When dealing with business over the internet, traffic = customers, and customers = money. If you’re starting a website and wondering how to get free traffic to your website, or if it’s even possible, don’t worry. There’s plenty of ways you can take advantage of free traffic sources – you don’t have to spend thousands up front!
Since there are countless recommendations by various programs and bloggers on this topic, I want to spend some time going over some of the more popular methods and give you some advice and my personal experiences using each of them. I know it can be difficult to know what really works or where to even start, so I invite you all to use my experience as a guide.
Method #1 – Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
Businesses pay massive amounts of money every year to be listed in the big search engines like Google and Bing. Why? Because it works! If you can manage to get your site ranked organically (meaning, without paying for the listing) and on the 1st page for lots of search terms you can send lots of highly targeted traffic to your site. About 80% of my traffic comes from free search listings.
The best part about this type of traffic is that in my experience, it’s one of the highest quality and best converting sources you can get. It’s great because it attracts a very focused audience which is more likely to be interested in what you have to say or what you are selling. The best part is, you can get traffic this way for 100% free if you have patience and are willing to invest the time and energy.
The downside? It can take awhile to see results if you go the free route. It’s so easy to launch a website nowadays, and with thousands of new ones popping up every day, it’s easy to understand why search engines like Google don’t easily trust new websites. You need to consistently add content to your website for at least a few months (if not several) before you start seeing results.
It may not be the easiest place to get free traffic, and for that reason there are many people who don’t recommend you even try, claiming ranking in Google organically is impossible! (Which isn’t true!) It just takes a lot of work, and most people aren’t willing to do it.
Even so, I still recommend search listings as my #1 free traffic source to anyone with a website. It’s completely worth it.
Don’t forget about Google Images!
In addition to the normal search results, don’t forget about the image searches! People search by images all the time, and I think it’s a very underrated traffic source.
If you properly keyword name each image you upload to your website, as well as provide alt text along with it, you can see some pretty good traffic just from images alone. I had one article get 1,000’s of hits just from a ranking image result alone…. I didn’t even rank for the actual article!
Never forget to label your images and you may be amazed at the additional traffic they’ll bring!
Method #2 – Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
I’ve seen results from Facebook, but it is very minimal compared to other sources. There are a lot of people saying you HAVE to have a social media profile these days, but I don’t agree. What ends up happening often times is people get so caught up in the social media scene, trying to gain a following or worrying about what to post they really are just wasting time that could be better spent on other marketing methods.
But don’t get me wrong – social media can be a great source of traffic for a lot of businesses. It all depends on the energy you’re willing to invest. It takes quite a bit of work and time to build up a large enough following to really make promoting your page worth the effort.
However, because of all the connections that exist within social media, it can make spreading the word about your website much faster and easier than it may be in real life. So while it my help with an initial boost of followers and traffic, it takes sustained energy and time to really build a quality following with Facebook and Twitter.
Method #3 – Pinterest
Pinterest is usually lumped into the realm of social media, but it’s quite a bit different from Facebook and other platforms if you ask me. If you aren’t familar with this one, it’s basically a social platform for bookmarking websites. It’s an extremely VISUAL source, so if your niche is visual then you don’t want to exclude it. (Also consider using Instagram)
The thing is, the extent to which you can use Pinterest for traffic really depends on your niche. Highly visual niches like arts/crafts, fashion, hair care, home decor, camping, weight loss, baking, and cooking tend to do very well, but there are also many categories that many not quite fit in.
Think about the demographis of most Pinterest users – it is highly dominated by younger females (18 – 44) and used to save ideas for recipes, fashion or home decor. I had a lot of success using Pinterest for my niche in fashion, but not so much for others.
If you have an image rich niche, add unique content and photos to the Pinterest world, and know how to properly engage with the site, you may find it to be another well focused and converting free source of traffic for your website.
Method #4 – YouTube
YouTube is one of the better entirely free traffic sources out there. It’s a great way to funnel traffic back to your website, as you can drop your website link within the description box of each video as well as advertise it within your videos.
Another plus side is YouTube videos now show up in the regular Google search results, so if you spend the energy creating quality videos and know how to properly target keywords you can really drive some great traffic back to your website.
It can be a little overwhelming for some people, but sitting and talking in front of a camera isn’t necessarily the only option. You can also do things like create image slideshows, powerpoint presentations or screen casting tutorials.
Method #5 – Returning Traffic
Most businesses will tell you a large part of their revenue comes from RETURNING CUSTOMERS! This is true in the world of online business as well, so don’t overlook it as another source of traffic.
It’s great to get initial traffic to your site, but after you’ve established a bit of an online presence, you obviously want visitors to keep coming back. Not only is it easier to sell to someone who is familiar with your business, but it takes a lot less effort to attract repeat customers then brand new ones all the time.
So, how exactly do you get people coming back? Well, social media platforms help if you gain a following and actively engage with them… but another huge (and more effective) way is with email marketing. This is when websites ask for your name and email address, often times in exchange for something like receiving updates, an ebook or a free course.
Once you build a list, you can keep in touch with them to build relationships and market to them again in the future.
So which one works best?
There are hundreds of methods for getting free traffic to your site, but only a fraction of them will yield quality results. While I’ve gotten results from all of these, and definitely still rank search engines as #1, you may discover your website reacts better to certain traffic sources than others, and that will just vary by niche. I’ve cherry picked the best ways I’ve discovered through my personal online business experiences, and hope they can bring you some insight as to what may be best for your business.
There may be an entire world of paid traffic out there, but if you’re willing to spend your time and resources on learning to get free traffic first, you can save yourself a ton of money.
What have you discovered to be your best free traffic sources? I’m curious to know what has worked for others out there!