Regardless of industry, website traffic is almost always a leading indicator of small company success. More often than not, website traffic directly correlates with sales—meaning slow months on the website can translate to slow months at the cash register. And while large companies view 100 visitors per week as nothing more than a rounding error, at smaller firms these web hits could mean the difference between drawing a paycheck and moonlighting as a restaurant server.
With the above in mind, this article will focus on nine primarily ‘non-technical’ ways for small companies to increase web traffic—ways that any small company owner or manager can implement, regardless of background or technical ability. If you would like to add your own to the list, please feel free to use the comment field at the bottom of this page. Otherwise, enjoy!
Traffic Tip #1: Write Your Pages with Web Searchers in Mind
If the goal of traditional writing is to communicate an idea or theme, the goal of writing for the web is to communicate an idea or theme using specific sets of keywords and key phrases. Before developing content for each of your web pages, identify not only what the page is about, but also the words and phrases people will use to search for it. Then, logically and contextually use the identified words and phrases within the body copy, being careful not to OVER use them and risk a search engine penalty.
Traffic Tip #2: Form a Purpose-Driven Social Networking Group
As businesses continue to implement social networking strategies, marketers are finally realizing the goal of social networking should not be to drive revenue, but to develop a community that will EVENTUALLY drive revenue. Are you an IT consultant? Start a group for people struggling with ERP implementations. Do you own a mail order wine store? Start a group for people who collect rare vintages. Helping people without expectation of profit is a great way to not only build credibility, but drive web traffic in the future—when members of your social group are finally ready to make a purchase.
Traffic Tip #3: Provide and Market Educational Content
In the day-to-day scramble to keep small businesses afloat, it is easy to let making money dominate your marketing strategy. But developing and promoting educational articles, white papers and free templates is still great way to increase interest in a small company website. In terms of general website traffic, “free knowledge” marketing campaigns regularly drive up to 7 times more traffic than sales-related campaigns. And because most people like to share, educational content has a high likelihood of being passed along to other people . . . who will visit your site down the road.
Traffic Tip #4: Start a Blog, Because It’s Not Too Late (Really)
As a blogger rapidly approaching the end of his second full year, I will be the first to admit the most opportune time to start a blog was probably a year before I did it. That said, the benefits of hosting a company-related blog are still significant, and the sheer volume of tools available these days means it’s never been easier to get started. At the risk of repeating a bunch of things I already wrote, I will simply direct you to one of my other articles, The Importance of Blogs for Small Company Web Traffic.
Traffic Tip #5: Find Sites that Will Link Back to You
Search engines like Google, Bing and YaHoo understand that high-value websites have lots of outbound AND inbound channels. Translation? Websites that lack inbound links will rarely show up high in searches. Making sure your website is listed in industry directories and on industry portals is a good first step, and finding sites to repost your free educational content (see #3 above) can help as well. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for link exchanges with related, non-competitive websites and blogs in your industry. The first linkbacks will be the hardest ones to get, but if you work hard and get creative, good things will happen.
Traffic Tip #6: Become a Regular Contributor to the Industry Rags
At the risk of stating the painfully obvious, I will say this: people with deadlines are always busy. And nowhere is this concept more applicable to your situation than with the editors, writers and reporters who support your industry. Making yourself readily available to trade publications—most of which are published electronically—can gain your company timely exposure whenever a last-minute quote, opinion or sound bite is needed. And if your company appears consistently, organizations and publications outside the trade will begin to see your company as an ‘expert’ in the field, which can lead to more exposure on a much larger scale. Example: Earlier this week Harvard Business Services recommended my blog as a small business resource to its readers. This recommendation TRIPLED my web traffic for the week. And yes, I said TRIPLED.
Traffic Tip #7: Ask People for Their Input
If there is one thing in this world more frequently given than birthday presents, it is advice. Offering focus group participation, free product samples and beta testing opportunities is a GREAT way to interest people in your company and your website. And when your initiative is over, your company will be left not only with improved products and services, but with a group of dedicated and highly motivated people who regularly check your website for updates and information.
Traffic Tip #8: Use Social Bookmarks on Your Most Valuable Website Content
No matter what kind of website you operate, there are always a few pages that focus on educating customers without the obligatory sales pitch—articles, white papers, free tips, company histories, and so on. If these pages truly provide value, why not ask visitors to recommend them to others? Social bookmarks drive millions of visitors to websites every single day, and the four most popular bookmarks (Retweet, Facebook Share, Stumble and Digg) take minutes to install. For more information on Social Bookmarking, be sure to spend a few minutes reading one of our most popular articles of all-time, Social Bookmarking Dos and Don’ts.
Traffic Tip #9: Encourage People to Tell Others About Your Company
Nearly six years ago when I met the entrepreneur I work for today, one of the first marketing-related statements she made to me was ” If you want someone to pass on your marketing, why don’t you just ask them?” At the time I had a good laugh to myself at the naivety of her comment. But as embarrassed as I am to admit it now, she was right. Simply asking people (in writing or verbally) to tell others about your company actually works. In fact, I have personally seen an increase in campaign response of between 15 and 50 percent, simply by putting the words “Please pass along to a friend!” in emails, newsletters, catalogs and print advertisements. And of course, an increase in general marketing responses means more clicks to your website.