If there were a single, foolproof, really simple method for getting lots of traffic at a website, everyone would have lots of traffic. In fact, most of the millions of websites in existence have fairly small amounts of traffic.
This isn’t necessarily alarming. One of the sites we built is for people who need an economical way to send tankers trucks full of non-potable liquids across country. The number of people who want that and are searching for it will be smaller than the number who want and are searching for, say, weather reports.
And you don’t want to hijack everyone looking for weather reports and bring them to your website about tanker trucks, either. You’d have bandwidth problems without getting any additional customers.
But you do want as many as possible of the people searching for what you have to offer to come to your website. And there are also people who don’t yet know about what you have to offer, but might find it appealing once they get there. You’d like some of them, too.
So, with full awareness that there’s a lot more to the question than can be covered in one blog post, let’s look at how to get more traffic.
Find out how you’re getting traffic now. We built a website for a llama and goat farm in Oklahoma. If we look at all the traffic this site has had in its lifetime, we see that more than half of the traffic comes from referring sites: 20% from the owner’s blog and 11% from Facebook, with the other 20% coming from a wide range of sources, including a lot of email. Direct traffic accounts for about a third of the traffic. Since the web address of this site isn’t something strangers would naturally type in just in hope of finding a llama farm (not, for example, www.llamafarm.com), I’m guessing that the direct visitors are customers from the farmers market and other people to whom the owner of the site has given the address. Search accounts for only 15% of the total. In short, this site gets its visitors from social media and real-world networking.
Do more of what’s working. If social media is doing well for you, then do more of it. The goat farm shows spikes in traffic nearly every time its owner mentions it on Facebook. The fan page has 84 fans, but updates rarely and has nothing on its Info page. This site has had good basic linkbuilding, but isn’t using Twitter or participating in soapmaking or natural living forums. So there are plenty more things that the owner could do within the general category of “things that are working for her.” Our lab site gets most of its traffic through search, because we add fresh content daily about things people are searching for. That works for us, so we can put our efforts into new content with confidence that we’ll continue to increase traffic.
Reexamine thing that aren’t working. Our farmer client doesn’t get much traffic from search, though she comes up well for searches like “llama farm in Pryor, Oklahoma.” There aren’t many people searching for that. There are more people searching for goats milk soap, but there’s also lots of competition. She could fight for improved rankings for that — but why should she? She has firm evidence that social media works well for her, and she doesn’t yet have all the results she can get in that way. On the other hand, our tanker truck people do well for search, have top rankings for most of their keywords — and have only 11.66% direct traffic. After 50 years in business, they must have plenty of contacts. By adding their web address to their invoices, advertising, and business cards, they could probably increase traffic from people who are already very likely to choose them. If you feel that you’ve done as much as you can with things that are working for you, it’s time to revisit the things that aren’t working as well as you’d like, and make some changes with them.
These three steps will increase traffic for nearly everyone who undertakes them.