By Richard Harroch and Anne Burns
It’s no secret that every business needs to have a successful website to succeed, but the art of generating traffic and building loyal audiences has become more nuanced in today’s landscape. The oversaturation of the internet with content and websites has made it more difficult to stand out in the crowd, and the competitive race to the top of Google’s page-one search results is now more complicated than ever before.
There are a lot of factors to consider to make sure you are doing everything you can to increase traffic to your website. From high-speed performance to content cleanup, many variables can impact your site’s traffic. Here are 20 tips to ensure you’re generating the most traffic possible to your website.
1. Make sure your website is high performing per Google’s guidance
A very important factor in how well Google ranks your website—and therefore how many people are able to find it—is how your site performs. Google’s recent algorithm updates let everyone know that its “Core Web Vitals” would be the new benchmark for measuring a site’s performance.
Here are some key elements for determining high-performing sites:
- Does the main content on a web page load quickly? Google says that to provide a good user experience, the main content should load within 2.5 seconds.
- Is the site quickly responsive when a user tries to interact with a page?
- Are the pages visually stable and minimize the amount of unexpected layout shift of the content on the page?
All of this can get very technical, so it can be helpful to have a website performance audit done. A variety of companies offer a free website and security health check. A comprehensive audit will help you make a data-backed decision on what the best and most cost-effective next steps are to improve your site. Here’s what an audit typically includes:
- Core Web Vitals evaluation
- Search engine optimization (SEO) performance check
- Site security score
2. Implement basic SEO techniques
Google owns most of the referral traffic on the internet, and your site should reflect this reality. The good news is that the primary way you can succeed on search is by creating quality content that serves value to your readers. Google is highly optimized to find content that’s the best on the web, but there are some things you can do to make sure your content is set up for SEO success:
- Write Long-Form Content: Longer, original content ranks higher than shorter, aggregated content. Thorough and reliable posts are the foundation of good SEO.
- Produce Quality Content: Google is constantly updating its algorithm, which often causes volatility to web traffic. This can make content creators nervous that their search rankings could suddenly plummet. However, Google’s primary advice never changes — the best way to rank high in searches is by creating meaningful content that serves your readers. Here are official tips from Google on how to create quality, people-first content.
- Optimize Your URLs: One of the best ways to make sure your content gets ranked on search is with short and easy-to-understand URLs. This can be an automatic SEO boost because Google crawls URLs verbatim. For example, if your article is about the best hotels and restaurants in Bali, you may want to make your URL slug “Bali travel tips.” For example: myhomepage.com/bali-travel-tips.
- Fix Broken Links: Make sure all of your URLs work properly on your website. Broken links can hurt your search rankings.
- Use Appropriate H1 Titles and Meta Descriptions: Ensuring your H1 title tags and meta information are set correctly will improve your site’s clarity to Google’s crawler. Check with your webmaster on this.
3. If you are an e-commerce company, diversify your marketing tactics
Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it’s filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to achieve a deep understanding of your audience. This often means connecting with your buyers where they consume content, and using those mediums to engage in new tactics to get their attention.
Here are some pillars of e-commerce marketing today:
- Email Campaigns: Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to start a targeted journey with your most engaged audience. Email marketing has become more popular over the past few years as users long for a more personalized, uninterrupted purchasing experience outside of the platforms.
- SMS Outreach: Research says that 70% of consumers are subscribed to some sort of SMS messaging from a brand. This can be a great way to reach your most desired buyers where they can always be found: Their smartphone.
- Customer Reviews: Providing reliable customer reviews is a great way to promote transparency and increase the legitimacy of your products. They are also a great way to snag an added SEO boost. Read Google’s specific guidelines on quality product reviews.
4. E-commerce companies should consider affiliate marketing
It’s estimated that 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040. But not every company is an e-commerce company. Luckily, the flexibility of the open web means that there are user-friendly paths to securing e-commerce revenue without actually selling products of your own. One of the best ways to achieve this is through affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based method in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought in by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. From an e-commerce perspective, this often translates into embeddable shopping links, reviews, and specific content like product roundups. Amazon extensively uses affiliate marketing.
The acceleration of e-commerce over the past few years should entice websites of all kinds and sizes to weigh the benefits of affiliate marketing. It’s a sure bet to increase revenue diversification and, when done effectively, build loyalty with your user base. Not only will a good affiliate marketing experience benefit your users, it can help your SEO and increase your chances of securing recurring revenue.
5. Make site security a top priority
Delivering a secure, high-performing environment with extreme reliability is essential to every site’s success. This means having a site with technology that uses reliable infrastructure.
You often hear about security breaches that impact thousands of sites because open-source CMS options like WordPress are constantly vulnerable to security threats. If you are running a real online business, easily exposed features like plugins are a 2000s-era feature that now serve as a major weakness on your site. Security threats created by outdated plugins can put hundreds of thousands of sites at risk.
To make sure your data is protected, look into a publishing platform that offers 24-7 support and is transparent about how they safeguard their site network.
6. Consider adding short-form video content to your website
Short-form video content is exploding in popularity. Consider adding short-form tutorials, guides, product information, or other content. You can even repurpose existing written content into videos fairly easily now.
After you have launched those videos on your site, make sure to post them to TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. That can result in significant traffic to your website.
Video content like this is often one to four minutes long. Include links in the video back to your website.
7. Create evergreen content
Growing your website traffic isn’t just about getting the maximum audience for your content. It’s also about keeping that growth continuing over time. That’s why evergreen content is a must-have for any website. Evergreen content is content based on topics that never go out of style and revolve around your site’s core talking points.
Evergreen content will always be relevant to your audience and it can be frequently updated over time. For instance, if you have an article about “How to Win at SEO,” you can continue to update it with new updates from Google, new strategy tips, and in-depth training on how to master SEO.
Publishing evergreen content is also great for SEO. If you can create quality evergreen content around the key phrases you want to win and employ smart SEO techniques, you may be able to reap the benefits of consistent traffic from searches.
8. Build up your site’s backlinks
Backlinks are simply links to your website that are hosted on another site. If your site has backlinks on quality, authoritative websites, it will improve your site’s own domain authority and increase your success in searches. Here are a few tips on how you can generate more backlinks:
- Post Comprehensive Content: Think about creating a piece of long-form content that serves as an all-in-one resource on a topic related to your brand. For example, if you host a site about vegan cooking, you could create a page called “A Guide to Vegan Cooking for Beginners.” Comprehensive guides open up opportunities for pages about similar content to link to your guide for more detailed information.
- Write a Testimonial: Many sites are looking to add to or create new customer testimonials on their site. If there is a product you like, it’s worth reaching out to their team to see if they would be interested in your testimonial in exchange for a backlink.
- Participate in Forums: Chances are there are plenty of conversations happening on the web that relate to your brand or website. Start participating in meaningful discussions on online forums to increase your site’s visibility and, in turn, increase your chances for additional backlinks from other forum participants.
Read more tips on generating backlinks.
9. Frequently post to social media
While Google is the primary driver of referral traffic on the web, it’s important to nurture your social media channels as well. Data from HubSpot found that 16% of referral traffic still comes from social media.
Your audience lives all over the web, and that includes social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. These platforms are still a great way to discover a natural audience that is already passionate about your message and mission and is ready to engage and even participate with your content.
By posting frequently, you increase your content’s visibility and increase the chances that your posts are favored by social media algorithms. To make your social media workflow easier to manage, create a content calendar to stay organized.
You will also want to feature social-sharing buttons on your site. These are graphic images that contain links to popular social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. These make it easy for your readers to share your content on social media.
When you do post to social media, make sure to include interesting or engaging images, because this will lead to higher click-through rates.
10. Write a guest post for another site
There are a lot of benefits to writing a guest post on a website other than your own. First off, by writing quality content for another site, you will reach new audiences that may have never heard of you before. In addition to that increased visibility, you will also build credibility not only with your new audiences, but also with Google’s algorithm. Over time, guest posts will generate more backlinks to your own site which will improve your search rankings.
11. Answer questions on Quora
Quora is a collaborative website where users can ask questions that are then answered by other users using a forum format. The website has been around for decades and is often at the top of Google Search’s results. If you search Quora for questions related to your site’s talking points, you can easily provide users with informative answers that link back to your site. Similar to guest blogging, answering questions on Quora will increase visibility to new readers and provide another opportunity to build quality backlinks to your site for an added SEO boost.
12. Optimize your site for mobile
More than half of the traffic on the open web comes from mobile, so it’s important to spend time and effort ensuring your website offers a rich user experience on mobile devices. The biggest factor when it comes to mobile is performance. In fact, Google has strict guidelines to determine whether or not a site is mobile-friendly. These guidelines are not just best practices. They also can determine if your pages show up at all in Google’s mobile search results.
The best way to make sure your site is mobile-friendly is by using technology that doesn’t consider the mobile experience as an afterthought. Using a CMS that prioritizes performance and the mobile experience above all else will ensure that your site’s mobile interface is modern, fast, and built for repeat visits.
13. Have a great sitemap for search engines to follow
A sitemap is a file that lists the pages of your website to tell Google and other search engines how your site’s content is organized. Google’s crawlers read this file so that your site gets indexed intelligently.
Your sitemap can also contain valuable metadata associated with the pages you list in it. Metadata is information about a web page, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and the importance of the page relative to other URLs on your site. If your site’s pages are properly linked, Google’s web crawlers can discover most of your site.
You can set up sitemaps using Google Search Console.
14. Send email newsletters
One of the strongest methods to grow your readership is through newsletter campaigns. While sometimes metrics like opens and click-through rates can be low, emails are still a great way to target niche audiences to convert them into loyal followers. According to HubSpot, 99% of people check their email every day, with many checking more than 20 times a day, and email communication is still a preferred way to receive updates from brands.
The best way to build a successful email campaign is by creating a newsletter experience that will make those niche users want to read more. Those quality emails need to be supported by technology that makes it easy to transform your site’s content into dynamic email campaigns.
15. Buy ads on platforms that make sense for your site
Much like email newsletters, buying ads on different third-party platforms is an opportunity to reach hyper-targeted audiences. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy ads on every medium all over the internet. Try to cater your ad spend to platforms that make the most sense for your content. For example, if you host a website about DIY Halloween decorations, it might make sense for you to spend money on
Pinterest, instead of platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.
Also, focus on being methodical with your audience targeting. Consider a retargeting campaign first and then measure its performance. A retargeting campaign targets people that have already engaged with your content and website previously.
Buying “pay per click” ads on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other places can become expensive, so make sure you are constantly monitoring the cost and efficacy of such ads.
16. Decrease your site’s bounce rate
Currently, your site’s bounce rate is the percentage of users who navigate away from your website after viewing only one page. When Google Analytics 4 launches in mid 2023, bounce rate will be defined as the percentage of sessions that were not engaged sessions. Either way, the best way you can combat a high bounce rate is by providing a user experience that makes readers want to stick around and read more on your site.
A great way to see if the improvements you’re making to your site’s user experience are making a difference is by leveraging A/B testing. If you subject a small percentage of your site’s traffic to a new layout, you can see how the new version impacts page speed and user experience. Then you can check how that compares to your current bounce rate.
Paying attention to your site’s bounce rate is the best way to use the power of data to guide every step of your content workflow. By setting a goal to decrease your site’s bounce rate, you should see an increase in general traffic.
17. Increase internal linking
If you want your site to rank in search results, it’s going to need both external and internal links. Internal links are simply links that direct to another page on your site that is related to the topic at hand. This will increase context for your readers, and will hopefully keep them on your site for even longer.
Additionally, internal links help organize your site for Google’s indexing. For example, you can link to your most important pages more often to give Google an idea of the hierarchical structure of your site. If you want to increase traffic to your site, having a solid site architecture will help your site’s ranking and hopefully increase the average time users spend on your site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.
18. Optimize content for maximum shareability on social
In the modern digital landscape, social media can be an afterthought unless it is a core part of your
business plan. The best way to maximize the benefits of social media is by making it easy to share your content wherever your audience lives, and that includes social feeds.
You can ensure your content is hyper-optimized for social by using the following strategies:
- Publish mobile-friendly content
- Make the most of mobile-friendly mediums like Facebook Instant Articles and Web Stories
- Create a content calendar to maintain post frequency
- Post discussion-worthy content to spark engagement
19. Get rid of bad content on your site
If your site has been around for several years, it’s likely that you have an archive of content that is not useful. It’s important to periodically perform a content cleanup to make sure that Google is indexing the best version of your site. Here are some common kinds of bad content to look out for:
- Duplicate Content: Duplicate content is when the exact same or similar content appears across multiple URLs on your site. This can be troubling for Google’s crawler because it will not know which URL to use.
- Short Content: Google has no official word count for what qualifies as quality content. In fact, some content considered “short” could perform well on Google if it has meaningful value to users. However, sometimes content that is short does not fully satisfy Google’s guidelines around quality content. Make sure the shorter posts on your website are well-written and adequately match the search phrases you hope to win. And consider having long-form and substantive content on your site.
- Licensed Content: Licensed content refers to articles that have been republished through a legal agreement, like a copyright license. While this can benefit your site if used sparingly, be sure you aren’t hosting a lot of licensed content that could easily be found elsewhere on the web. This could put you at risk of being outranked on Google by other sources.
- Typos: Google frowns on content with typos because it assumes that the quality of the content is not very good.
20. Use a modern CMS
Many factors go into generating web traffic composed of both new audiences and loyal visitors. Today’s oversaturated market means that creating quality content is only half the battle. Content worth reading must be supported by technology that ticks all the boxes required to support high-volume traffic to your website.
Make sure you are using technology that prioritizes performance and usability and offers an advanced suite of editorial tools and intuitive technology to enable publishers to unlock new growth across site, search, and social.
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About the Authors
Richard D. Harroch is a Managing Director and Global Head of M&A at VantagePoint Capital Partners, a venture capital fund in the San Francisco area. His focus is on internet, digital media, and software companies, and he was the founder of several internet companies. His full bio appears here on AllBusiness.com.
Anne Burns is the Director of Marketing at RebelMouse, a next-generation CMS that powers some of the biggest names on the web. She is passionate about transforming websites of all kinds—including news publications, small businesses, and legacy brands—into a digital presence that’s true to brand, profitable, and personalized.
Copyright © by Richard Harroch. All Rights Reserved.