The Top 10 Traffic Sources Used By the Best Online Marketers

accident

Not that kind of traffic...

Traffic is a very funny thing. When we’re on the road, we are desperate to avoid it and do all kinds of elaborate things to try to get out of it. We keep moving to different lanes, checking online to see which roads have the most traffic so we can avoid them and generally curse the world about our bad luck when we run into traffic.

On the other hand, when you are working online, traffic is your friend. You are desperate for traffic. Traffic means more business, more money and ultimately the success of your online venture. It’s kind of like when you’re a customer at a restaurant as opposed to a restaurant owner. As the customer, you love when the restaurant is pretty quiet because you can then relax and enjoy yourself. The restaurant owner loves when it’s jam packed and he has to tell people there’s an hour long wait.

Okay, enough with my traffic metaphors. I could go on for pages and pages with them but the bottom line is that you want traffic to your website. I’m going to show you how it’s done. I’ve scoured the web for ideas on exactly how to generate additional traffic to your website and these are ten ideas which will get you there. Some are obvious but others not so much:

Search Engines

Let’s start with the most obvious. While I wrote a while back that Google may become less important in the grand scheme of things when it comes to online traffic, the fact remains that at least for now, the big three search engines are vital to getting people to your website. They still send millions of people and few of the “gurus” would tell you to utterly ignore Google et al.

On the other hand, while the search engines are definitely important and you really do want to make sure that you keep them in mind when working on your traffic strategies, they are not the only game in town. In fact, you can (though you probably wouldn’t want to) ignore Google and the other search engines and still get plenty of traffic to your site and make boatloads of money from it.

Forums

Here’s a traffic source which many, many, many people constantly and consistently overlook because they don’t think of it as a place to get plenty of traffic. If they do think of these, they usually misuse them and end up with no traffic or worse, they end up getting a Penguin notice that their website is “over-optimized.”

Forums are an excellent way to get boatloads of traffic to your website. They’re also a great way to get targeted traffic to your website which means that these are the people who are actually going to make purchases instead of simply dropping by and wasting your bandwidth. And no, I’m not talking about using Xrumer to spam forums either.

People come to forums because they have a question about a specific topic or because they are passionate about a specific topic. Either way, these are the people who are most likely to want to make a purchase from your company of whatever it is that you happen to be offering for sale, from office accounting service to online traffic services.

The key to successful forum marketing though is that you MUST become a part of the community. There are an awful lot of “drive by” spammers who drop by hundreds of forums and leave a comment, sometimes even a valid comment and who are completely ignored. Often, the post they put up is even deleted because it’s obvious that they’re not really interested in being part of the community.

On the other hand, if you find around 4-5 forums which are related to your specific niche and you participate in them regularly (be sure ideally to look for the ones which are really big with thousands of members and lots of traffic – the smaller ones may be nice, but they won’t do much for you if you want traffic to your website) you will find that you are getting tons of referral traffic from them.

In addition to the referral traffic that you get directly from these forums, you’ll also find that you are able to get backlinks from these forums and you may even get mentions on other popular high traffic websites in your niche as owners of those sites notice you and decide to mention you on their own websites.

Social Mediadog wants a bone

I know – it’s been done to death. I honestly don’t believe that you yourself can do enough to actually get yourself noticed on places like Facebook and Twitter. You need to get the “crowd” to do the job for you. On the other hand, there are several ways in which you can make exactly that happen. Here’s what you need to know:

First and foremost, you need to create content which will actually go viral. This is essential if you want to get noticed in social media. Unless of course you happen to be personal friends with someone like Oprah or Jon Stewart, in which case you can use your connections to your word out through your friends.

For the rest of us (the 99%), making your content go viral means creating things which people are going to be excited about. Study after study has shown that comedy, animals and babies all seem to go viral online. I guess as a species, we find these things interesting and want to pass them around.

Now, the key is to relate whatever it is that you are doing to one of these kinds of things. So for example, if you were writing a post about using animals to make your content go viral then you might put up the image of the dog I added here with a caption like “I don’t want to go viral…unless I get a bone from everyone who reads this post.” This combines both comedy and animals.

You can try similar ideas. It’s also helpful to have social media signals for your readers. I recently saw a brilliant plugin on Warrior Forum which actually includes a social signal where in order to read the remainder of a post, you need to “like” it on Facebook or do something else social. This kind of thing is a brilliant idea and is definitely worth spending some money on (and no, I’m not an affiliate and I’m not even linking to it – if interested, go find it on WF).

Article Directories

I know what you’re thinking – using article directories to get traffic is so five years ago. You’re 100% correct about that. If you are relying on the article directories themselves to drive traffic to your website or even to provide you with quality links, you are wasting your time. Worse, you could even be causing your site to be tanked by Google through spamming the article directories.

That said, if you use article directories for the original purpose they were created then you can easily pull in a ton of traffic. I’ve written about this in the past, but it’s worth mentioning here again because it truly is a great way to drive tons of traffic to your website. In essence, the idea is to use article marketing (as opposed to article directory marketing).

The concept is that you create really high quality articles, often including quotes from people in the industry, i.e. the kind which a journalist would create and not the kind your $5 or $10 content writer creates and then offer them for free on the article directory sites in exchange for a link.

Owners of well known websites and newsletters still do look on article directories for good quality material to use for their newsletters. By including your articles in these article directories (no need to spam hundreds of them – five will do), you can get your stuff into major sites and bring in tons of direct traffic from them.

The key here by the way is NOT to write unique content for each article directory. Trust me, there’s no duplicate content penalty because the content appears on other websites. You just want something high quality. Ideally, you should get the article indexed on your own website first and then put it up because you will not lose out by having the same material appear on other websites.

By the way, just for clarification, the duplicate content penalty is only for sites which duplicate material across different pages. Mind you, your site cannot be based exclusively on syndicated content, but there is nothing wrong with using some such content as long as you also have your own original content going up on your website.

News Releases

This is yet another thing that I’ve written about in the past and it’s an excellent way to get your name out there, though at first you may need to spend a bit of money to make this happen. Press releases are basically pre-written news articles which you send out to major newspapers, magazines and websites. It’s a bit like the concept of article marketing above but not quite.

Basically, you create a press release when you have something newsworthy to mention about your company. So for example, if you just came out with a cool new product, that would be a good time to create a press release. It’s not time to create a press release because your office just got a new coffee maker though. Again, it needs to be newsworthy.

A press release has a handful of basic pieces to it. You should write it as if it’s a news article where you discuss the who, what, where when, why and how of your announcement. The news release should also include quotes from you or from the owner of the company (it doesn’t have to be an actual quote – it just has to be something you might have said if you were hosting a press conference).

You also must have a dateline on the press release. This is a date when your press release is officially supposed to be release. Even if you write “for immediate release” (which you would in 98% of cases), you need to make sure that you include a date and a location (i.e. November 1, 2012, New York). This is standard news format and will ensure your press release is taken seriously.

Finally, the press release should include information on whom to contact for additional information and include a phone number and e-mail address (ideally also a cell phone number or just a cell phone number). It should mention the title of the person to be contacted as well (i.e. president, ceo, VP of media relations, etc.).

The end of the press release should have ### on a line all by itself. If you are not comfortable writing the press release yourself, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job for you because it does need to be written in a certain way.

Now, to distribute the press release you can do it yourself, but I suggest that you use a professional press release distribution service. It just makes logical sense to do so because frankly, they are more likely to get your press release noticed by the right people. There are Fiverr gigs available for this but I’m not sure I trust them as much as I trust the big boys whom I admit do charge a lot more money, but whom I also believe are worth it.

Video

Chicken crosses the road

If you ever do get that chicken to come for an interview, it would be a great video by the way.

Video is of course another great way to drive traffic to your website and all the big websites make extensive use of video to do the job. In essence, you can create a funny video where you include some kind of goofy acting as long as it’s not so badly done that it appears to be a train wreck. I’m not a big fan of the boring videos which have a guy prattling on endlessly. I think those don’t go viral.

You should ideally include some of the elements of viral videos in your video, including animals and or babies. You should also try to be funny in your video and then get it distributed widely. Put it out there on places like YouTube of course but also on other video sharing sites.

Make sure as well that you make your video shareable. This means that it can be embedded on other websites. This will help to spread the message about your company because many other websites may also post the video on their own services.

You should also consider adding some professional effects to your video. You can do this yourself to a point, but in this case, some Fiverr gigs can be really useful because you can professional opening effects and there may also be Fiverr gigs which offer you time elapse hand motion videos (i.e. where you see a hand “drawing” something). These make your video look much more professional and make people more likely to visit.

Finally, if you are going to do the video yourself, consider hiring someone to write the script for your video. This is important because too often, when people record their own videos, they’re really boring and people tend to tune them out. You want something funny and interesting instead of something really dull if you want your video to go viral and bring in truckloads of traffic.

Guest Posts

Yes, guest posts are a great source of clicks and they do work really well. However, most people do them poorly and then wonder why they were wasting their time on creating such materials. Here’s how to do them correctly:

First and foremost, you should try to put guest posts onto major websites. This is especially true if you are offering unique content. You should not be offering unique content to PR0 websites. It’s a complete waste of effort. Try to do these only on sites which are PR5 or higher and you’ll find that your efforts are worth your while.

At the same time though, it’s important to create unique content for these guest posts which is actually compelling and interesting. Don’t assume that the junk you get for five or ten bucks is going to get posted to a popular website. Expect to either do real research or hire someone to write a post which could cost you at least $100. It’s worth it because it will drive plenty of real traffic to your website.

Your guest post should ideally put your best foot forward and should offer your new readers a reason to actually visit your website. After all, this is their first impression of you and they need to be compelled to click the link. This means that guest posts should not be the junk you didn’t want on your own site but should instead be the best quality material that you can possibly come up with.

Finally, consider looking for opportunities to repost guest posts. Some places which require unique content will allow you to repost it if you include a link back to the original place it was posted. Many other sites are happy to take reprints and this will allow you to get the word out to many more places and thus generate that much more traffic.

AdWords

I know – it’s not free and many people eschew it, but you know what? AdWords does work. The key is to bid for cheaper long tail keywords instead of the much more expensive common keywords. For example, instead of looking for “car insurance” you could look for “cheap car insurance New York City.” This reduced significantly the amount of competition and it increases the chances that you’ll get real customers.

It’s also useful to pay close attention to what you put into your AdWords ads. Google does offer basic help with doing this and it’s a valuable service which should not be ignored. You can also hire professionals to help you craft ads which are more likely to attract many buyers.

Finally, when bidding on keywords on Adwords, it’s important to vary your bids. While the ideal is to go only for penny clicks, Google will penalize sites which only do penny clicks. Instead, vary how much you are willing to spend for specific keywords and try to trend toward the cheaper penny clicks in order to get more people to visit your site.

Solo Ads

Don’t discount these kinds of ads. They’re extremely valuable and often they can be tremendous bargains because you get permanent ads instead of ads which run for a limited time. You can contact owners of blogs for example and offer them a set amount of money in exchange for a link from one of their articles.

You should also consider solo display ads because those will allow you to get plenty of exposure as well. However, I’m personally partial to the in text ads because those seem to get noticed the most. I’m also not a huge fan of the gimmicks sometimes used to get people to click on these in text ads because it makes them look more like advertising.

Generally, you can find blogs to advertise on by doing a search with a product like Traffic Travis and finding sites which have good PR numbers but which are not super high on the PR rankings (i.e. around PR2-5). These kinds of sites are usually not popular enough to have the owners charging massive amounts of money for permanent ads but are popular enough to make it worth your while to place an ad on the site.

YouTube

I know someone out there is saying, wait; didn’t you just post about YouTube above? Well yes I did, but this is a completely different strategy that I learned about a while back which I think is really cool and which is actually not being used as often as some others. It’s a bit similar to the solo ads concept above which is one reason that I’m mentioning it here.

Basically, the idea is to find videos related to your particular niche which have been posted by someone who is passionate about it but is not advertising their own website on the video. Such videos do exist on YouTube but you do need to search for them and play around a bit with the search algorithm to find them.

Once you locate such videos on YouTube (and really any other video site but YouTube is of course the most popular), you can then contact the owner of the video and offer them a set fee in exchange for placing a link under their video to your website or affiliate product offer. The beauty of this is that you can get in on a popular medium without creating your own stuff.

Now the catch is that you need to hunt down videos which are trending. The video which has 30 views over the past month is not one that you want to do this on. Look for videos with at least a few thousand views over the past month and you can then tap into all that traffic often for a small amount of money.