Sometimes I wonder if the Internet turned us all into a bunch of traffic junkies.
I mean, you’ve felt the cravings right?
Oh, sure, it starts out innocently enough.
You build a website, start a YouTube channel, create a podcast, whatever your passion may be. You create some content. A few people stop by and compliment your work, giving you that thank-God-somebody-finally-noticed-me feeling.
That’s when the cravings start. Not strong, at least not at first, but you find yourself spacing out at odd moments, like when you’re driving or at dinner or watching TV, drifting off into a silent little scheming session about how you can get more visitors.
And it gets worse.
You go from someone just toying with this whole online marketing thing to a serious student, Googling for traffic strategies on your lunch break, going to webinars instead of movies, and even studying blogs like Copyblogger (muahahaha!).
But you know what?
I totally sympathize. I’m the King of traffic junkies, going so far as to dedicate my entire blog to it, and after studying it for years now, I’ve slowly but surely figured out what works.
The next time you find yourself jonesing for a few more visitors, give these strategies a try:
10. Buying pay per click (PPC) ads
Listen to the prevailing wisdom, and you’d think this one would be numero uno, but here, I have it as #10. What gives?
Well … listen:
Buying PPC ads does work. I do it. I’m even starting to make money from it.
But it’s pricey. These days, many keywords run you more than one dollar per click, and if you’re going to do that for long, you’d better have a proven sales funnel optimized for particular keywords.
Most of us don’t. In fact, most of us also have more time than we do money, making the whole idea of paying for traffic unpalatable.
9. Chasing free press
If you can’t afford advertising, you’ve probably wondered how to get some free press.
You think a mention on the nightly TV news, a radio interview, or an article about you in a newspaper or magazine will send you a huge flood of traffic.
Not really. Yes, getting free press continues traffic, but it may not be the numbers you’re hoping for, unless you land on the front page of the New York Times or get interviewed by Oprah. And obviously, those are hard to do.
To make it work, you have to put real effort into it. In my opinion, chasing free press is worthwhile if you’re trying to become a nationally recognized authority. If you’re not there yet, consider some of the other strategies first.
8. Dedicating yourself to a social network
Social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest have hundreds of millions of users that are self-organized around every imaginable topic. Having a presence on each of them must be a smart strategy, right?
Yes and no.
If you’re publishing remarkable content on a regular basis, social networks will be consistent winners in your traffic stats. You can also get massive spikes in traffic from when something you publish goes viral.
Problem is, you’ll spread yourself too thin. The only people who can effectively maintain a presence on each of them are social media supergeeks or business owners with entire teams of people dedicated to nurturing the network, day in and day out.
Most of us don’t fall into either of those two camps, so for us, the smarter strategy is picking just one social network where your audience seems to congregate and then putting in the time and energy to really do it right. You can focus on others later.
7. Expanding into other media
In a similar vein, a lot of content marketers think they need to dominate all media. They want to have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, book, everything.
In the beginning, it’s a mistake, because once again, you’re spreading yourself too thin. However, once your audience is established in one medium, expanding into others becomes a much smarter strategy. Here’s why:
The audiences in each media don’t overlap as much as you’d think. The people who read blogs about marketing and the people who listen to podcasts about marketing are two relatively distinct audiences. So, by expanding into other media, you can instantly increase your potential reach.
This is what happened for Derek Halpern. He already had a successful blog — Social Triggers — and then he expanded into video by creating a YouTube channel. He essentially doubled his traffic by reaching a new audience.
6. Enlightened SEO
Most people totally misunderstand SEO.
They think it’s about technical aspects like pure keyword frequency or link architecture. Yes, those are factors, but any SEO expert will tell you they can only take you so far.
The most important factor?
Links from trusted sources.
For example, a link from Seth Godin is worth infinitely more than a link from a spammy directory site. (The spammy link will probably actually hurt your rankings.) That’s because Seth only links to stuff he thinks is awesome, and in Google’s eyes, he’s been proven to be good judge of quality content.
So, how do you get links from Seth (or any other trusted site, for that matter)?
Simple: Create something awesome.
Not just a little bit awesome, either, but so awesome that influential people can’t help talking about it.
Get that part right and the rest of SEO is much easier.
5. Guest blogging
If you’ve been reading my posts for long, you know I’m a huge fan of guest blogging. In my opinion, it’s the most effective traffic strategy there is, assuming you do it correctly.
So why is it #5?
Because it’s hard.
While the long-term results of guest blogging are stunning, most people haven’t learned to write and think well enough to land a spot on the biggest blogs in the world. They can with practice and training, but some of the other strategies here are easier to implement.
Such as …
4. Interviewing authorities in your space
What? How does interviewing a bunch of big shots get you traffic?
Well, here’s a little secret:
By themselves, interviews aren’t the greatest content, but they are awesome for connecting with influential people. Be respectful of their time, and ask insightful questions, and you might be surprised about how long they remember you.
You don’t even need a big audience. When I was a beginning blogger, I landed interviews with about half a dozen New York Times best-selling authors, and I could count my readers on my fingers and toes.
Give it a try. This is one of the easier traffic strategies to implement, and it’s amazing how many connections it can create for your time.
3. Building your email list
What’s the easiest way to get more traffic?
Let’s say you email a link to a new blog post to your 1,000 email subscribers. 20%, or 200 of them, click on the link. Of those 200, a dozen or so share it with their friends on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on, sending you another 100 visitors.
That’s 300 visitors from one email. You can also repeat the process as many times as you like. Publish three great blog posts per week, and you get yourself 900 visitors a week, easy as pie.
That’s why building an email list is so important. It’s traffic on demand.
It’s so important, in fact, that increasing the size of your email list should be more of a priority than just getting traffic. So, put up an email subscription box your site, pronto, preferably with a nice, juicy incentive to make joining your list irresistible.
2. Writing a big ol’ list post
Ever get a little sick of list posts?
Yeah, me too. They’re everywhere, and most of the people who write them wouldn’t recognize an original idea if it arrived priority mail from God, with neon lights and polka music.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write them, at least occasionally. Here’s why:
They get crushing amounts of traffic.
Even if it’s as boring as watching stoplights change on a country road. (Ideally, of course, you’re going to work so this isn’t the case.) Even if not a single person reads it to the end.
If you doubt me, go ahead and write a post about 50 ways to do something your audience might like. I’m betting it’ll be the most popular post in the history of your site.
1. Crafting the perfect headline for your content
If you could multiply your traffic by 50 times in five minutes, would you do it?
No-brainer, right? Well, listen to this:
A few years ago, John Wesley from Pick the Brain wrote a post that only got 100 visitors, and he was really disappointed. He thought maybe the headline was the problem, so he deleted the post, changed the headline, and republished the exact same post, and it got 5,000 visitors. You can read the entire case study here.
What’s so amazing is that type of story is commonplace. The difference between a good headline and a bad one is very often thousands upon thousands of visitors, and you can change them in minutes.
Granted, learning to write a great headline does take time.
Whatever you do though, don’t make the mistake of thinking your headlines are insignificant. In my not-so-humble-and-excessively-qualified-opinion, getting better at writing headlines is the fastest and easiest way to skyrocket your traffic.
Nothing else even comes close.
And yes, it applies to every type of content. I don’t care if you’re running a YouTube channel, a podcast, or publishing a free report; your headline is more important than the rest of the content, combined.
But don’t take my word for it
Not just your headlines, but everything I said above, and let the results speak for themselves.
Because the honest-to-goodness truth is, all of this is totally worthless if you never use it. Doing something is the traffic strategy that beats them all.
Of course, nobody wants to hear that. That’s why I had to sneak it in at the end.
But you know it’s true.
So, stop being a traffic junkie and get to work. Otherwise, I’ll call the popo and have them haul your jittery butt to jail.
About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you'd like to learn more about what it really takes to become a popular blogger, check out his free videos on guest blogging.