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Want to Increase Website Traffic? Own It and Earn It

Freeway traffic at night. Image source: Pexels/Unsplash

So, you want more eyes on your website? You’ve invested time, sweat, energy — and perhaps even a few tears — into creating your site. You’ve showcased your business so your community knows both what you do and why your work is valuable. Increased website traffic can help you stand out among the competition, lead to more sales, or increase user inquiries — but how can you get more page views?

There are three types of increased website traffic: owned, earned, and paid. All drive viewers to your site, but since an investment in time rather than money is often best for any small-business owner’s budget, owned and earned traffic should form the cornerstones of your online presence. When you increase website traffic from owned media — your website, blog, social media accounts, mailing list, or any other sites where you’re in charge — you’ll be the one sharing your content. So when you join a department store’s mailing list, receive emails about upcoming sales and events, and use those emails to revisit the store’s site, you’re seeing owned traffic in action.

Earned traffic, by contrast, happens when other people share content leading to your website. When a supporter shares your social media post about your newest menu item with their audience or a food blogger raves about your restaurant, that’s earned traffic for your business. Such traffic pushes you outside your current community and builds trust through positive word-of-mouth marketing in the digital realm.

Both techniques require consistency and commitment, but they are long-term strategies that will eventually reap huge rewards.

Own the connection

Your website, blog, social media accounts, and any other platforms you manage are opportunities for more owned traffic — if you leverage them. Think of your website as more of a long-term commitment — it’s not just an online brochure that passively draws in traffic.

Use the following tips to help sow the seeds of connection with consistency and commitment:

Commit to contribution: As marketer Seth Godin suggests, you must add value to your fans’ lives. When you prepare a blog or social media post, ask yourself how you can best contribute to your community. Organize a weekend sale at your boutique and donate a portion of the proceeds to a local charity — then let your supporters know so they can also support the cause. From sharing your business’ positive impact to inspiring your community, your commitment to contribution will shine — and your website traffic will see a boost.

Build a solid plan: Consider creating marketing and editorial calendars. A marketing calendar is a timetable of what content you plan to use for marketing your business, and an editorial calendar plans out how you’ll market that content (where you’ll share it, how you’ll share it, and so on). Map these out in advance, and be purposeful with your content, including special events, holiday sales, and inspiring information. Then choose a variety of places to share, ideally sites where your supporters spend time. Plan out your summer sales, from the Fourth of July to Labor Day, and keep to your schedule. This is a systematic way to gain both owned and earned traffic, and when you’re a busy business owner, advanced planning saves valuable time.

Get blogging: A consistent blog focused on what you contribute builds awareness and trust that supports your place in the community. Your fans will come to recognize you as a worthwhile source of information and inspiration with a steady stream of content. Keep that content fresh (and your audience up-to-date) by focusing on what you’re up to — events, industry trends, positive community stories, and more. To start blogging, brainstorm a list of topics to support your fans. If you own a yarn shop, for example, think about what inspires your fans and write content that informs them about what you provide. And remember to write to your audience just like you would talk to them — using language that speaks to them. The more you blog, the easier it becomes.

Share on social: People around the globe navigate social media daily — and that includes your supporters. Choose platforms where your shoppers hang out: are they mostly on Facebook, or do they prefer Instagram, Pinterest, or the Twitter-verse? You can engage your community by asking questions, and providing comment-worthy content and shareable posts. When you commit to posting regularly and providing real value, you’ll find potential supporters are drawn to you. A nutritionist sharing healthy recipes, for example, is going to attract people who care about healthy eating — ideal clients for his or her business.

Earn the shares

Ever had a family member or friend tell you about a service, product, or website they adore? Of course you have! People love giving the goods on what they love. Your owned traffic can expand into earned traffic through online sharing and positive word-of-mouth marketing. Keep the following in mind to optimize these earned shares:

Be engaging: Content that leverages inspiring stories and works to keep readers informed helps you connect with your community. People who want to know more about your business — and end up linking to, sharing, and commenting on your content — are a truly engaged audience. Again, consistency matters. Blog, post on social media, and deepen your knowledge of your fans’ wants and needs. Then, provide compelling content. An engaged audience is a hot commodity.

Host a contest: Amplify engagement with a fun contest, and require your supporters to share your content on their social media channels or blogs. A photographer, for example, might host a contest for a free photo session, requiring all entrants to like and share the post about the contest on Facebook. A contest can multiply your audience by allowing you to reach your fans’ friends, families, colleagues, and communities — score!

Connect with key figures: People who have extensive reach and are trusted in your field can have a hugely beneficial effect on your online presence. A fashion blogger delightfully dishing on an independent boutique will lead earned traffic to that store’s site. Word-of-mouth marketing drives traffic in the digital realm, and with experts you get to learn more about your field while also reaching more people. Build relationships by reaching out or engaging others online, cross-promote when you can (share their content when they share yours), and watch your website traffic grow!

Website traffic doesn’t have to be paid for — it can be earned. And you might just build some lasting relationships along the way!