Why you shouldn’t rely on google for traffic and should ensure you have a strong, multi-channel traffic strategy for your website.
You will I am sure be familiar with the phrase ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’.
The basic premise of the phrase is that, with most things in life it is never a good idea to be completely dependent on one thing, to steadfastly follow a single course of action with no regard for a plan B.
Well, the same rules should apply to your traffic strategy.
There is no doubt that for most successful websites, google is still the primary source of free traffic (whether that traffic has the highest conversion is another discussion…) and the perennial cry from most webmasters is ‘I want more traffic from google!’
Which is all well and good and if your site is established, ranking well and you are surfing along on a wave of free traffic then you might not think you have anything to worry about. But there is a question you should ask yourself: –
‘If google ceased to exist tomorrow, would I still have a business?’
Ok, let’s caveat the above and say that this is not a likely scenario. While they have taken a bit of a reputation knock post prism et al, they are so dominant in the search market and seem to be so on the ball with the way search is heading (see Hummingbird), that it is highly unlikely that anyone will come along in the next 5 years or so and knock them from their perch. But you never know…
To Build Your Google Traffic, Forget About Google
An approach I like to take when devising a traffic strategy for a new, or existing site is to act like the above had happened and that google wasn’t here anymore. That they had ceased to be. That they were an ex-search engine (one for monty python fans).
When proactively link building for example, I look to get links from sites/pages that will actually send me referral traffic. After all, before google came along and webmasters started to build links not for direct traffic generation, but for increasing pagerank, this is what they were for!
Here are some examples of the types of links that can drive good referral traffic to your site.
Guest Posts On Authority Sites
A guest post slot on a high profile, authority site in your niche can be the spark that ignites your blog and starts a traffic avalanche.
You will be gaining direct access to the the trusting audience of an established name in your corner of the internet and if your content is excellent (which it will have to be to secure a guest post on a top blog) those readers will be keen to click that link in your bio box and read more.
This is what guest posts are for; getting yourself in front of a targeted audience which is already interested in your subject and building your authority.
If you are using guest posting as a cheap way to build anchor text backlinks then you are doing it wrong and should read this post.
Niche Specific Forums
Forum spam is still one of the annoying techniques black hatters employ to boost their link volume – posting any old nonsense for a signature link.
Now, the thing is, post Penguin, signature links really won’t do much for your rankings (and too many/non relevant posts will see you penalised!). If you are registering on loads of forums just to boost your pagerank, then do something more productive with your time, it’s pointless.
If you can find a good forum in your niche and become an active, helpful member of the community, then people will click that link in your signature and (importantly) will be visiting your site trusting in what you say and ready to listen to your sales message/subscribe/buy etc.
For a great real world example of how powerful forums can be for traffic/lead generation, check out Matthew Woodward’s zero backlinks experiment.
Blog Comments – Get There First!
Leaving insightful comments (which add to the discussion) on high profile sites in your niche can be a great way of getting referral traffic.
I have also found that if you can get in there quick and be the first to comment on a new post then you will get more clickthroughs to your site.
Use a twitter management tool such as hootsuite to manage your streams and look out for new posts from the top bloggers.
Hint: You will be much more likely to succeed in outreaching to the blogger for a link/share/guest post in the future if you are an active commenter on their site and have already established a relationship with them.
It’s All About Visibility
Social media is obviously a huge potential source of referral traffic.
Certain niches work better with facebook, others with twitter and for more corporate sites linkedin might be the traffic generating kingpin, but like everything else you should hedge your bets and try and maintain an active presence on each of the major social networks.
Just like forum posting, you want to be actively engaging, helping out, answering questions and sharing other people’s content.
Basically, wherever, your potential audience is, you want to be visible!
Tip: Don’t just self promote, or you’ll quickly turn off your followers!
There’s Loads More Ways To Build Referral Traffic
The above is just the tip of the iceberg and in a brain storming session a couple of months back I came up with 91 ways to drive traffic to your website outside of google.
And the thing is, by focusing on networking in your niche and building your referral traffic by getting your name out there, offering real value and being helpful, you will be picking up exactly the sort of diverse, white hat link profile and social presence that will soon see google rewarding you with that free search traffic that we weren’t obsessing with, but are certainly not going to complain about!
And importantly, to answer our original question, if google was to disappear tomorrow, your business will be just fine!