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Five ways to drive more traffic to your website, for free.

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One of the best things about working in digital marketing for nice big brands is most definitely the fact that there is generally always free food in the building.  (I’m super motivated by food, incase that wasn’t immediately clear… #hungry.) The second best? Budgets.

Most of the time, digi marketing projects get nice big budgets with lots of zeros, so you can bring your internet dreams to life – on someone else’s dime.  #win

Which is great if you’re an established business.  #BUDGETFOREVERYONE

But don’t change the channel juuuust yet.  Because while I’ve had plenty of opportunities to bring some incredible projects to life, backed by someone else’s cheque book, there’s also been the times where I’ve had to hustle.  I’ve had projects assigned to me with almost zero cash, I’ve started side projects, I’ve even helped friends get their small businesses off the ground – and the one thing they’ve all had in common is the fact that you need to get some momentum, without a lot of outlay.  (Unless you really like that horrid tinned spaghetti on toast for dinner while Google is eating up all our disposable income on ads…)

If you’re looking to drive more traffic – or heck, even start a website from the ground up – and you need a few simple cost effective pointers to get you headed in the right direction – welcome!  Pull up a seat and grab a wine, because we’re about to impart some bona fide fire starters.

In fact, all of these things should be the very first foundational bits and pieces you get right before you even think about splashing the cash, because no only will they give you traffic for just a little bit o’ elbow grease, but when you do decide to invest in paid promotion – they’ll make the results just that much sweeter.

 

One | Content is king.

A website is the digital version of a Fiddle Leaf Fig.  (I know my friend Claire is nodding along enthusiastically, suddenly super engaged with the point I’m about to make.)

It’s incapable of survival on it’s own and if you want it to be the very best version of itself you’d better be prepared to analyse every minor reaction it has to, well…just life in general, and provide support, love and care every step of the way.

Kevin Costner lied to us all.  You can’t just build it and then ‘they’ will come.  A website is a work in progress – and I hate to be the bearer of bad news – it’s never done.

Google likes to keep things fresh.  Revising content, blogging regularly, updating old articles – that’s what gets the search engine de jour up in the morning, and it rewards those who feed it accordingly.

Set up Google Analytics, find out what’s driving traffic (and do more of that), and refresh and update anything that’s not.   The more you focus on your content, the more reason you’ll have for people to stop past.

 

Two | Free social media isn’t dead.

…you just need to change your approach.

I know I banged on a little while ago about how starting a Facebook page isn’t ‘free advertising’ for your business.  And while that’s most definitely still true (it’s pay to play, party cats), there area still loads of ways you can harness social media for good, instead of evil.

Let’s start with Facebook.  While you’ll find a Page super hard slog to get humming along without a paid strategy – groups are the next best thing.  Remembering that the conversation won’t be all about you (dammit), join some groups that are filled with like-minded folk or topics and get involved.  Don’t take over the place (because people will not like that so much *shakes finger*), but look at how you can add value to already in progress topics of conversation.  For example – if I see someone thinking of starting a website and asking for advice – I’ll probs share this masterpiece.  Some groups even offer up a weekly thread where people can share their latest posts – just make sure you’re sharing the love and checking out some of the others because social media is community, y’all.

Pinterest generates a butt tonne of traffic (yes, that is the technical term, obviously).  Make sure you have a quality image set as your thumbnail and make a point of sharing the second you hit publish.  It’s a great slow burner too, one day you’ll notice a spike for something six months old and you realise that the accompanying image just got a few pins…

And don’t forget about LinkedIn.  They’re making a massive play for content and some of the best engagement I get for my posts is via the lovely folk following me on the platform.  It’ll also do wonders for your personal and digital brand if you’re trying to build up authority as a thought leader.

 

Three | Mobile is more important than desktop.  Fact.

In case you missed the memo, we’re all addicted to our phones and as a nice broad sweeping statement that I have no intention of linking to the source because it’s EVERYWHERE, mobile browsing took over desktop quite a few moons ago.

And when you get a mobile user to your site?  That’s the best bit – they’ll generally stay twice as long as the ones visiting on their desktop.  (Fine, I’ll link to that source.  You guys are super high maintenance today…)

If you’re building a new site – start with a bloody brilliant mobile version, and scale that for desktop – not the other way around.  There’s nothing more annoying than finding something you’re halfway interested in, and then not being able to read it because their mobile site sucks.  Don’t make it hard for your audience to engage with you.  Don’t write great content that they’ll never share because they didn’t finish it because the text was 3pt small in your non-responsive site.  Scale your images accordingly for 3 and 4G networks.

Mobile penetration and engagement is only going to increase, and if your eye isn’t on that ball, you’re going to be more useless than Joe Daniher, 20 metres out, directly in front of goals when Essendon are 5 points down.  (Yes, I am a long suffering Bombers supporter *groans*)

 

Four | Key words.  Do them.

I get it, I get it – you don’t have the time or budget for a fully fledged SEO program, because you’re a startup/small business/person with a real live proper job and this is just a side hustle, yeah?

No deal.  Key words and meta data are super important, and even just a bit of thought at the most basic level in your CMS will make an impact.

Think about all the different ways people will be searching for what you’re peddling, and make your site the most Google friendly BFF you can.  For example, if you’re a homewares supplier in Brunswick don’t just pop that in and go off for a celebratory Tim Tam.

Include multiple keywords – and all the variations you can think of.   (like ‘homewares Brunswick’ ‘home decor Brunswick’ ‘decor for your house Melbourne’ – you’re welcome any homewares shops playing along at home…)

Use tools like Keyword tool to generate a whole great big long list of other popular options.  And if you wanna get a bit savvier and find out more about how they rank and what’s got the most competition, check out Google’s keyword planner.

 

Five | Make friends.

When you run out of people in your network – the next step is simple.  Use someone else’s.

Guest blogging, content sharing, reciprocal posts – it’s a super easy way to reach an audience besides your own, all while adding value to someone else’s business.  (The true meaning of win/win, if I may.)

Find some similar sites – or ones that you have something interesting or informative to add – and approach them about guest blogging.  Offer a piece on your own as well.  Guest blogs include a link back to the author’s site, and so if all these brand new readers dig your jam, they’ll happily follow you back to your house for more.

Pro tip: this works best when both people are getting the same value, so even though you may be tempted to head straight for news.com.au because #traffic! – recommend sticking to like sized sites while you build your rep.

 

Image via Unsplash

 

 

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