Google traffic is lucrative – there’s no doubt about that. Often, the most effective way to attract targeted traffic is to make sure your site is optimized for Google searches. As you may have already learned, winning that targeted traffic is one of the top strategies for making money on the web.
However (and this is a big however), depending solely on Google organic search is not a good business model. Google frequently issues algorithm updates. This can lead to webmasters/bloggers losing all their traffic overnight. You need to diversify the ways that you draw online users to your site. Sure, Google search is a big part of that process – but it isn’t the only way to do it. You can still rely on organic search, but don’t make yourself vulnerable to another algorithm update before you have time to optimize for it.
In fact, Google just released another Penguin update on September 23rd. Penguin 4.0 is supposed to be the final update of its kind. That’s because the algorithm will now run in real time, which means it will actually be updating on a continuous basis. How this may affect websites across the board remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Business owners need to grow without being entirely reliant on the traffic from Google search.
This is the perfect time to revisit my previous post and explore more ways to grow without Google traffic.
What Happened to Me in 2012 Penguin Updates
I know firsthand how a business can be affected by an update to the Google algorithm complex.
My site, WebHostingSecretRevealed.com, was hit badly during the Google Penguin update in 2012. This forced me to rework everything from scratch again on a new domain: WebHostingSecretRevealed.net. Since then, I have been experimenting with different ways to pull in targeted traffic outside organic search.
You can read how Darren lost 80% of his traffic overnight and what he did about it here.
In previous posts, I have talked about some of the tactics I’ve learned and used to build a Google-less approach to attracting blog traffic.
In this post, we are going to dig wider and deeper for more Google-less traffic strategies.
Tactic #1: Content Swap
Previously, I’ve discussed how guest posting is the best way to build sustainable web traffic. This concept is still valid two years after I first talked about it.
Here’s an example:
I published a guest post on Blogging Wizard in April two years ago. The post somehow gained popularity, and Mari Smith tweeted about the post. This led to some new traffic and Twitter followers for me – not to mention building my authority in the niche.
The trick, again, is to guest post at the right place – Google PageRank or Domain Authority is never my main concern. What we want is influential blogs with real readers who will read and engage with your content. Guest post to build web traffic and your personal brand – not for Google PageRank.
Never underestimate how effective it is to reach out to peers and influencers. Getting the word out about your own blog is much easier to do when you can collaborate with other bloggers.
At this point, you might be thinking “But wait – researching for the right blog and reaching out to the right bloggers for guest posting opportunities requires lots of work!”
Well, what if we can speed up that process and write more (and eliminate a lot of that work)?
This is when Content Swap becomes the best tactic to use – the one that will help you to get the most from your efforts.
So, What Is Content Swap?
The idea of Content Swap came from Ken Lyons of Measured SEM.
While Ken was suggesting swapping guest posts to build links, it may also work as a great way to bring more traffic to your blog. Without Content Swap, you must reach out to each blog and ask for a guest posting opportunity. This can be a tedious and time-consuming task.
When you employ Content Swap as a tactic, you are in the driver’s seat.
Guest posting opportunities will come to you instead of you being forced to seek them out endlessly. All you need to do is select the sites that meet your specific quality thresholds: You determine such details as the amount of traffic that meets your needs, how many social media followers the site should have, and other relevant factors. Then, choose those blog sites that fit your criteria.
Steps to take for getting started with Content Swap:
Set up a proper “write for us” page on your blog.
Explain clearly what types of guest bloggers you’re looking for (and make it clear that you want to swap content with them).
Share the page on your social media pages and forum signatures to increase the chances of being seen. You can also promote the page on Facebook to a specific audience (namely, those who own blogs).
Sit back and wait for guest posting requests.
(Self-plug #1: If setting up a “Write for Us” page is too much for you, you can swap content with us at WHSR.)
Tactic #2: Influencers Marketing
Now that you know about the importance of exchanging content – and how much easier it is to do this by using the Content Swap method – you’ll still need to do some footwork while you wait for guest bloggers to respond to your “write for us” page. The kind of blogger outreach I’m talking about now involves targeting influencers. Doing this is a bit more time-intensive than placing a call-out to other bloggers on your own website. The time you invest in this strategy can yield repeated returns for you, however. It’s also a way to identify which bloggers might be the best to swap content with once those offers start coming to you.
Start by identifying the influencers who are blogging about topics that are relevant to you. You can build a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. You’ll find a wealth of blogs on every imaginable topic at a site like Alltop, for one. Just enter a keyword in the search box on the Alltop home page. That should produce a page with several blogs and subtopics that you can browse. Once you find bloggers who seem like suitable choices as influencers, use an analytics tool to find out how much influence they have on social media. One analytics site I’ve had success with is Klout.
What can you do once you find the influencers you want to contact? Invite them to be interviewed by you on your blog. Ask them to collaborate on blog posts. Suggest swapping blog posts with them – as well as swapping links to your respective sites.
Real life examples –
All of these actions will help build traffic to your site, and you won’t need to worry about where you rank on results pages.
Tactic #3: Pour Oil on the Fire
You can look closely to your existing traffic for more ideas on how to grow it.
Previously, I covered five different tactics: 1) Blog commenting 2) Freebies marketing 3) Crowd sourcing post 4) Creative social media marketing and 5) Leveraging Q&A platforms.
Are you using any of these strategies? Did any of these work particularly well for your blog? Look into your Google Analytics and find out how these tactics have helped your blog to grow in the past. Figure what is serving you well, and double up your efforts on the tactics that work.
A Real-Life Example – Pinterest
In the first half of 2015, we noticed that posts focusing on mom bloggers were drawing a lot of Pinterest traffic. Thus, we built more topics for this demographic; we then hired a part-time Pinterest marketer to help us promote our posts on Pinterest. The results were a 160% increase in Pinterest referrals and 40% percent more newsletter signups from this traffic source.
What you can do:
Look into your Google Analytics, and examine your top 50 traffic sources (follow this search path): Dashboard > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium > Show rows: 50 – Can you see a particular type of traffic source that is working exceptionally well? Do you know why it works so well? Can you invest more money, time, or manpower in that source to make it better?
Tactic #4: Building an Email List
Darren recently talked about the importance of building an email list:
“Turn a visit into a regular weekly reader and you are effectively getting 52 readers a year.”
Darren started out with only 17 subscribers (four of those were his family members and himself). Today, he manages a list of 700,000 subscribers. Imagine the amount of traffic you could get from a list that size!
Like Darren, you can build a list of loyal subscribers by converting one-time or occasional visitors into weekly followers. Here are a few tips:
Make visitors want more
Publish compelling content, so people who just happen upon your site will want to stay connected to it. Provide users with valuable information that they will want to access on an ongoing basis.
Media rich content
Back up that text with audio (such as podcasts) and visuals (such as colorful infographics and videos) to keep your visitors interested.
Place an opt-in form in plain sight
Make sure that your visitors see your opt-in form on every page of your website. They may not always want to sign up for your list on the first page they land on, but they might want to do it after browsing for a while. Don’t let them miss out on that opportunity – make it available in the sidebar of most of your pages (if not all of them).
Give them an offer they can’t refuse
If you want people to subscribe to your email list, offer them something in return (like an eBook when they register).
Don’t stop at the initial registration offer
Once you start building your list, keep the momentum going by offering your subscribers more content they can use. Send enticing content in your newsletters, such as monthly webinars or discounts on products.
Tactic #5: Leveraging Facebook
I don’t think you need me to tell you that it’s extremely naïve to ignore Facebook.
(Fun fact: At last check, Darren posts 3 – 5 posts per day on Facebook.)
Facebook and the Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the most popular social networks worldwide. Facebook could actually send more traffic to your blog than Google. At least, that’s what’s happening with Parse.ly’s network of 400 digital publishers.
Here are two very effective Facebook advertising tactics you can try:
1. Revive Old Post Carousel Ads
Below is a carousel ad I did recently to promote my evergreen blogging tips.
The ads cost less than 50 cents per click, and I am drawing hundreds of visits per week to my blog. When you are targeting the right audience, the advertising cost on Facebook is relatively cheap. When you consider how huge the impact can be, you almost can’t afford not to advertise this way.
(Self-plug #2 – By the way I compile our best blogging tips in this page).
You may also use carousel ads on Instagram, which Facebook bought a few years ago. By telling a story in this type of ad, you can compel viewers to learn more about your business. They may then click on the link that leads to your website. Now, you have just attracted traffic without depending on the Google organic search function to do it.
Here’s another reason to create this type of ad to market your business: According to Digiday, carousel ads get 10 times the clicks of ordinary Facebook ads – and they drive 10 times the amount of traffic to the websites of their advertisers. That means that the ads are helping you to work smart instead of work hard, and they’re saving you some serious advertising dollars.
2. Influence the influencers: Ads targeting Facebook Page admin
Do you have some handy tips or experiences to share with Facebook page administrators?
Can you create some to target this group of people?
The idea here is to influence the influencers.
If you market something effectively to Facebook page admins – be it a post or a product – you can get far more traction from your campaign than if you were to just target ordinary users.
Why is this? Because a Facebook page admin has the “power of publisher”. Page admins usually have a group of followers themselves. If you manage to win them over, they could help you to amplify your message. Do you see how much more efficient this is as a marketing technique than conventional methods that have been used by everyone?
Here’s how you can target Facebook page admins (follow this search path): Facebook Ad Manager > Power Editor > Create Saved Audience > Detailed Targeting > Digital Activities > Facebook Page Admins
This is just the beginning…
As mentioned in my previous article, appealing to web traffic is only part of the game.
You Will Also Need to Focus On…
Once you get people to your website, you’ll then need to turn those visits into conversions.
You must optimize your landing pages to turn site visits into leads and leads into sales. Make the pages easy to navigate, so visitors can quickly move on from them when they want to explore your website. Run A/B testing and analytics so that you can improve the aspects of your landing pages that are not keeping people on your site.
Creating opportunities to remarket
By collecting emails via your opt-in forms, you can reach out to the site visitors that you didn’t convert the first time. Remarketing also enables you to maintain long-term customer relationships; you can make repeated sales to those customers; and ultimately, that is one of the best ways to keep growing your brand.
As a blogger, you need to optimize your content in order to get targeted traffic.
This absolutely includes optimization for Google search results. However, building an audience involves a lot more than getting traffic from organic search. Don’t leave your blog vulnerable the way that mine was a few years ago. SEO is only one strategy among several that can help you achieve your blogging goals. By swapping content, reaching out to influencers, developing an email list, and taking advantage of the tools on Facebook, you can draw targeted traffic and grow your blog.