One of the most important things an online entrepreneur needs to do is to seek out various sources of traffic for their website. It is hard to rely on one major source of traffic alone. If 80 percent, or even 50 percent, of your traffic comes from a single source – e.g. search engine like Google, a link partner, pay-per-click campaign – you may want to consider looking for other sources of traffic. Just like traditional businesses that rely on a single customer, losing that main source of visitors will mean a significant setback for the business.
If your site gets a lot of organic traffic from Google, for example, due to great placement in various keywords, it is easy to be complacent. After all, this is free traffic – you just create your content, and wait for people to come. And they do. If you are using pay-per-click advertising and your site is placed at the top of your paid keywords, then you will get a lot of traffic (and hopefully sales). Or the Drudge Report or Washington Post may have picked up your site resulting in an avalanche of visitors. Or you may have a link partner that is a rich source of visitors for your website.
But what if your traffic source dries up? What if the search engine changes its algorithm and you find your site losing 80% of your traffic overnight? What if a new advertiser is willing to pony up to bump you off the top spot in the PPC engines? Or you no longer have the resources to keep up your top spot because Adwords changed its bidding policy? What if you are yesterday’s news and no one comes to your site anymore? What if your link partner decides to remove their link to you?
Losing traffic is an online marketer’s worst nightmare. With traffic gone, you will find your revenues dwindle. Sales come far and few in between. Affiliate income loses steam. Advertising income come in trickles.You will find yourself scrambling where to get visitors to your website. As they disappear, so does your income. And that will hurt a lot.
So what can you do to make sure that you don’t lose all your traffic?
1. Focus on the Users
With the Penguin and Panda updates, the search engines want webmasters to optimize their websites for the users, not the search engines. They don’t want you trying to do any shortcuts to rank well, but rather to make sure that your focus remains on providing a high quality user experience. This means providing quality content that is unique and substantive. To the extent that you can, be unique, and that includes writing from scratch your product descriptions (and not just copying the generic descriptions provided by the manufacturers). Review if your navigation makes sense for the users. Ensure that your pages load fast.
2. Have a marketing plan.
It need not be a double-spaced thesis like document. Just grab a notebook, and start writing various avenues you can and should tap to reach your audience — and the exact steps you need to take to do it. Add some timelines for better planning.
For example, if you want to use press release to spread the word about your business, your plan should include the press release service/s you want to tap, the budget you are willing to spend, and (very important) measures to tell you that your release is a dud or success. Did you get x more backlinks? Did you get any calls or emails from reporters? How many sites picked up and run your release?
3. Go whitehat all the way.
Other online marketers and search engine experts continue to game the search engine system. Sometimes they succeed, and get a lot of traffic from their tricks. But often, search engines catch up to them and thwart their game. These “cheaters” are then sent to the very end of the search engine results, never to be seen again. It is important that you keep on the straight and narrow path of search engine guidelines. And if you are hiring someone to help you optimize your site for search engines, or get more traffic, be sure to know what exactly they are doing – and whether what they are doing are actually ok or will push your site to oblivion. With Google, for example, they will not accept the “I am ignorant as it is the person I hired who goofed” excuse for reinclusion back to their results. You and you alone are responsible for your website so you need to be on top of what the guys you hired are actually doing.
Be forewarned, though. Being a whitehat site does not mean that the search engines will not drop you. They can, and they will. And it will hurt a lot, especially since you know (or think) that you strictly followed search engines’ Webmaster guidelines. A blackhat webmaster may say, “Oh, Google caught up with my keyword stuffing and numerous doorway pages,” but you the whitehat webmaster will be at a loss as to why your pages no longer appear in the search engines. That “why” part is the hardest to answer and will keep you awake at night. You know you’ve been good, so why did Google stop sending traffic your way? Were your pages hijacked and now penalized for duplicate content? Did you link to bad neighborhood? Did you link solely for the purpose of getting reciprocal links and inflating your page rank, even though the sites you link are totally unrelated to your site’s main focus?
4. Know all your options.
It is important to be informed of all possible marketing options for your business. Many home-based online entrepreneurs have blinders on their eyes with regards to Internet marketing that they think that only PPC advertising is the way to go, or optimizing their websites for search engines. They either do not know what marketing options are out there for them, or they are not willing to look for ways to spread the word about their business. Some also do not spend money on marketing, thinking that all they need to do is to build a great site and people will come. Still others simply do not like to be bothered with all the work marketing entails.
Can you write articles and let other websites use it for free in exchange of a live link back to your site? Do you have news stories that you can syndicate via RSS? Do you have products or services that the media may be interested in? Do you know of a website related or complementary to your topic that may be willing to create a link to your site? You need to constantly educate yourselves about your marketing options. Hang out in webmaster forums. Visit marketing websites and read articles. Buy a book on marketing. And observe, and be willing to grab all the opportunities to increase your traffic base.
Getting traffic — and keeping it — is extremely important to an online business. Every online marketer should explore all possible avenues to get traffic and minimize dependence on a single source.
Recommended Books on How to Get Traffic:
- THE Web Traffic Book: A Definitive Guide To Crushing Your Competitors And Getting All The Customers You Ever Need!
- Turn Your Words Into Traffic: Finally! the Secret to Non-Stop Free Targeted Website Traffic
- Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing: Build a Million Dollar Business Within 12 Months
- Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization: Drive Traffic, Boost Conversion Rates and Make Lots of Money (Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guides)
- SEO Made Simple (Second Edition): Strategies For Dominating The World’s Largest Search Engine
- What is Search Engine Marketing?
- Promote Your Web Site and Measure Its Results
- Top 10 Ecommerce Mistakes
- How to Use Web Metrics to Improve Your WebSite
- Strategies for Starting Your Online Business