In a recent blog post, I talked about 12 top reasons why your website might have low web traffic. Today I want to help you drive traffic to your website by solving each of those 12 issues.
1. Posting great content is a leading way to drive traffic to your website
I believe, and I’m sure many if not most experts would agree with me, that having great content on your website is the most important factor in ensuring you can successfully drive traffic to your website. It’s also vital if you want to keep visitors on your website, which is important because the longer they hang around, the more likely they will be to succumb to your marketing and make a purchase.
To stock your website with great content you should have a good mix of fantastic web pages. Each page must serve a clear purpose and fulfil that purpose with engaging written and visual content. If you can add audio into the mix too, that’s even better.
Many businesses also find it useful to have a blog. This isn’t mandatory but it makes things much easier. In order for your blog to be effective though, you must pack it full of awesome content on a regular basis. You don’t have to post every day or every week but you must post regularly and consistently. Once a month is a good way to go initially if you’re short on resources. If you’re considering starting a blog, this guide will help you make the final decision.
If you’re ready to commit to delivering great content to your customers you need to decide whether you will write your own content or pay someone (ideally an expert) to do it for you. If you’re writing your own content, here’s a great step-by-step guide to writing awesome blog posts.
2. Keeping information current is vital
Great content might be the most important thing when it comes to driving traffic to your website, but it’s not the only important thing. Your content must also be current. Search engines prioritise recent content in their ranking algorithms because they assume recent content is going to be more relevant to users’ interests. And as I said in my previous blog post, getting on the good side of search engines is paramount if you want to drive traffic to your website.
This does not necessarily mean that all the content you post has to be new, however. It’s a good idea to go through all your web pages and blog posts (if you have them) about once a year to check that the information is still current and up to date. Updating older content, even if it’s just to add links to newer content, ensures your content is as relevant as possible to your target audience and it encourages search engines to prioritise your content so that more people find it when they search for solutions to their problems.
3. Build a great user experience (UX)
Your content would have to be lightyears ahead of the competition in order for users to persist with your website if it offers a bad user experience. You could aim for that but really wouldn’t it be easier to improve your user experience?
When you’re ready to assess whether your website’s user experience could be improved, here are the most important things to look at:
- loading time – Today’s users expect websites to load almost instantaneously. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load completely, your visitors won’t hang around waiting. They’ll just hit ‘back’ and go to the next interesting link in the search results. You can easily see if your website is loading slowly – visit it yourself and test it using Test My Site. Fixing it is harder. If you have a lot of photos on your website, that’s likely to be a major contributing factor but there are probably others as well. Neil Patel has a great page on how to speed up your website.
- mobile responsiveness – See the point below.
- page and blog design – A huge amount goes into the design of a website and/or blog. But at a bare minimum, you need to make sure it’s easy for users to find and consume all of your information. This means optimising the: text’s size, font and layout; menus (minimise tabs where possible); and colour scheme among other things. You also need to make sure users can easily move through your web pages and blog posts. And I don’t just mean physically. You need to put some thought into how users will logically connect your pieces of content and then design a navigation system that facilitates that. Researching web design best practices and then asking your users for feedback is one way to go but if you’ve got the financial resources, hire a professional.
Of course, having a great user experience doesn’t usually drive traffic by itself, but you can’t drive traffic to your website if it offers a poor user experience.
4. Ensure your website is optimised for mobile devices
52.4% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices. That means a substantial number of your website’s users, or potential users, will be browsing your website on a mobile device. And that means you can’t afford to neglect the mobile user experience. Once again, optimising your website for mobile devices won’t directly drive traffic to it but not optimising your website will scare users away.
For a website to be optimised for mobile devices, it needs to load quickly but it also needs to be easy for users to click on links, read text and view images and video. Have you ever been to a website that forces your mobile to display the whole page? If you have, you’ll know it’s impossible to read the text or make out what’s going on in pictures and videos. But even websites that have solved this problem can still be difficult to use on a mobile device if, for example, the buttons that lead to other areas of the website aren’t big enough.
Test your website on a mobile phone and a tablet. If you can’t easily use it when you know all the ins and outs of your website, then how can a stranger be expected to be able to use it? Again, Neil Patel has a great page with some basic tips on how to make sure your website is optimised for mobile devices.
5. Ensure your website is search engine optimised
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important techniques you can use if you want to drive traffic to your website. SEO is a big topic that I’m going to cover in lots of detail in other posts but here’s a short overview.
SEO is all about creating web pages and digital content that is treated favourably by search engines such as Google. The aim here is to get your content to show up on the first page of search results and ideally, at the top of the first page (below the paid ads).
Google and other search engines take a lot into account when determining which order to display pages in their search results. They haven’t released all the details of the algorithms they use but what we do know is that they take these key things into account:
- how quickly your web pages load
- whether users find your content useful or engaging (search engines determine this by looking at things like how long users stay on each page, how much traffic your pages get and how many backlinks each page has (see section 9))
- the number of times the search term is used on each page (this is called a keyword or key phrase in SEO terms) – note too many uses of a keyword or key phrase is just as bad as too few
One of the most challenging parts of SEO is writing content that is engaging for humans and ranks well in search engines. This becomes particularly difficult when the keywords you want to use are very popular because it means there is a huge amount of competition and it can be difficult to make headway with a new site or a site that is only just getting started with content marketing. There are lots of resources for improving your website’s SEO (some of them will be on this website) or you can invest in hiring a writer or SEO expert to take care of it for you.
If you want to know more about SEO, a good starting point is this guide which outlines which SEO techniques are most important.
6. Use well-built, meaningful URLs
With the amount of spam and harmful (malware infested) content on the web, people are often wary of suspicious-looking links. If your URLs don’t look like they lead to content that matches your headlines, preview text (meta descriptions) or the content before and after an in-text link, people won’t click on them. At the same time, if your URLs are so long that they cause your content to load slowly, many people won’t bother to wait.
Using poorly-built URLs will scare users away. Creating well-built, meaningful URLs will help with your SEO and will offer users a better alternative to websites that use dodgy-looking URLs. All of this will help to drive traffic to your website.
Make sure your URLs are short and meaningful. If you can include keywords related to the content the URLs point to, that’s even better. WordPress plugins like Yoast make it easy to customise and change URLs and there are similar tools on Shopify and most of the other website platforms that do the same thing. But if you’re not confident enough to have a go yourself, there are plenty of experts who can give you a hand. If you hire a content writer or copywriter to produce content for your website or blog, they might also be able to help you out with your URLs.
7. Banish broken links
A broken link is any link that leads to a page that doesn’t exist. When a user clicks on a broken link, they’ll instead be taken to a ‘404 error not found’ page. Broken links annoy users and disrupt the flow of visitors through your website. If they’re not good enough reasons to fix your broken links, then be aware that broken links will also interfere with your SEO efforts. And as you now know, anything that supports SEO is also going to drive web traffic.
Broken links will usually occur when you rename a URL or migrate your website to a new location. If you do either of this things, be sure to check all the links that lead to the modified URLs. Broken links can also occur if you mistype a URL but the best way to prevent this is to test every link you create before you publish your content.
Note you can use a redirect to overcome broken links that result from you renaming a URL but this can cause problems too, especially if you use a lot of them, so they’re best used as a temporary solution.
Broken links can also occur when you link to an external web page or resource that is later deleted or moved by the owner. You’ll need to do regular checks to keep on top of these. Alternatively, you can use a service like the wayback machine to link to preserved pages. This will stop broken links but it also means you don’t get any benefits associated with the owner updating the resource.
Broken links are easy to fix. It’s simply a case of updating the affected links with the correct URLs. If you can create a link, you can fix one. Finding broken links is the more difficult part. Wordstream has put together a great guide on how to find broken links.
8. Measure and analyse your content’s performance
A really great writer or content producer with loads of SEO experience and a deep knowledge of your target market and key topics might produce fantastic content using nothing more than their skills and knowledge. But this is so rare that I’m tempted to say you’re never going to be such a person or find such a person to hire. And even if such experts exist, they still need a way to keep up to date with customer and prospect trends.
Putting aside the unlikely chance you’ll ever be in that situation, we’re left with the simple fact that you or your hired help need a way to determine how your target audiences are responding to your content. If you don’t measure and analyse your content’s performance, you’ll never know what’s effective and where there’s room for improvement and you’ll waste a lot of time and resources on content that underperforms. Measuring and analysing your content’s performance will help you determine what kind of content to produce more of and pinpoint content that should be edited to make it more palatable to your target market. It can also help you determine which content should be updated on a regular basis.
So, how can you or your expert measure and analyse your content’s performance? There are a wide variety of tools available for this purpose. Google Analytics is one of the most popular and it’s free. Using this tool you can monitor how many people view your content, how they get to that content and where they go when they’re finished consuming it. You can also go further than this and generate heat maps that show how much of a page your visitors are viewing and where they spend more or less time looking. This can tell you a whole host of things like the ideal content length and which graphics are most appealing. Sumo is one (partly paid) tool you can use to do these kinds of measurements and analyses.
Measuring and analysing the performance of your content, followed by acting on such analyses to improve your content and your content strategy, is a great way of driving traffic to your website. It seems simple but too few website owners are doing this so it can offer a huge return on investment.
9. Develop a good backlink strategy
A backlink is a link on another website that leads to your website. It’s a lot easier to get your website to show higher up in search rankings if you have a decent number of high-quality backlinks because they drive extra (relevant) traffic to your website. By high-quality, I mean backlinks from reputable websites.
You can encourage backlinks by:
- commenting meaningfully on other people’s (relevant) blogs (make sure you provide your website’s details when you do this) – this encourages blog owners to link back to your web pages using ‘no-follow’ links (this isn’t as useful as ‘do-follow’ links but every bit helps) and also gets you more visibility
- writing guest posts – most blogs that take guest posts will give you a backlink or two and these will usually be do-follow links
- seeing if you can get your website or blog included in lists of good resources for your niche
- searching the web for any references to your website that aren’t accompanied by links and asking the owner of those websites to put in a backlink
You’ll probably also see sites recommending you reach out to websites that have broken links to see if they’ll replace the broken link with a link to your resource. This isn’t a super effective technique and SEO link builder, Julian Goldie, agrees with me. Here’s what he has to say on the issue (I’ve embedded Julian’s video with his permission).
10. Target the right keywords
Targeting keywords is a big part of SEO. But you can use the best SEO tools and techniques as much as you want and you won’t get much traction if you choose the wrong keywords to target.
Obviously, you need to choose relevant keywords. If you target keywords that have nothing to do with your product, service or industry then you might attract visitors to your website but they won’t be the right people. The problem though is that not all relevant keywords are ideal.
If you’ve got a new website or an older website without much domain authority, the chances of you getting a good search engine ranking for popular (high-traffic) keywords, is pretty slim. This is because there’s a lot of competition for popular keywords and the top spots in search results will always be given to websites with high domain authority and page authority as long as those websites produce decent content for those keywords. If you want to rank well for these kinds of keywords you’ll need to spend a very long time and work very hard to gradually gain authority.
The alternative is to target less popular keywords. These are often called long-tail keywords. They’re keywords (or key phrases really) with 3-4 or more words in them and they’re more specific to your content, products or services. The more specific a phrase is, the less often it is searched for and so the less competition there is. If you target these kinds of keywords, there will be fewer people searching for them but you’ll have a better chance of attracting more of those people because you’ll have a better chance of getting a good search engine ranking. The people you attract will also be more likely to be in your target market.
Targeting keywords that aren’t searched for as frequently may mean there’s less traffic to capture. But, by ensnaring a greater proportion of that traffic, you can end up with more traffic overall than you would if you targeted shorter, broader key phrases that are out of your league. The traffic you do attract will also be of a higher quality so you’ll be able to sell your products or services or disseminate your information to a greater proportion of your visitors.
A good way to select keywords to target is to use Google’s free keyword planner. One part of this tool will enable you to check how popular a keyword is and how heavily it is used in Google searches. The other part will suggest similar keywords that you might want to target. The keyword planner is free but you do need a Google Adwords account to use it. You don’t have to run or pay for any ads to sign up for an account.
11. Regularly promote your content to drive traffic to your website
It’s not enough to post great content on your website and blog. You also need to share it far and wide. The more you share your content with people for whom it is relevant, the more visibility and traction it will get and the better its search rankings will be. The key is to share it with people who will value it. You can share it via email and on social media. If you can find a web forum that is either focussed on your niche or where users have asked questions that your content answers, then that is an awesome place to share your content. A good place to start is to search Quora and Reddit for relevant questions.
12. Create engaging headlines
A given piece of your content can be the most interesting or useful thing someone might read or see all day but if your headline is boring or irrelevant, no one will discover just how that content is. Investing the time necessary to research and craft headlines that grab attention and encourage clicks will be well worth your while. But not everyone has the knack. If headlines are a struggle for you, hire an expert so you can focus your efforts elsewhere.