Do you want to attract more traffic to your website, without having to pay for it?
Sure, Google Ads is one way to drive more traffic to your business, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked by business owners which methods actually work, without having to resort to paid advertising.
Having been a marketer for over 20 years, I’ve tried and tested many of the methods below myself, so I can vouch for them.
NOTE: Just remember, there is a lot of bad advice out there too, so when searching for marketing methods you can use, always look for reputable sources.
So, without further ado, here are 13 ways you can drive traffic to your website without advertising:
1. Create helpful, quality content
One of the best ways to get more traffic from search engines WITHOUT advertising is to write plenty of helpful, quality content based on the questions your buyer personas (AKA your best customers) are typing into Google, and publish that content regularly (about twice per week) on your blog.
This results in what’s known as organic search traffic, and is a lot more effective than paying for ads – if you do it right. Just remember to echo the language people are using, and the phrases or questions they are typing into Google. Use these (preferably long-tail) keywords in your title and naturally within the body of your content.
It’s important to bear in mind that you should only stick to the content you know your customers actually care about; there’s no point in creating content just for the sake of it, and what you THINK might be an amazing blog topic simply might not interest your buyer personas, so do your research first.
TIP: Your content doesn’t have to be limited to written blogs; you may find you’ll get more engagement by switching things up with infographics, videos and more!
2. Promote your content via social media
Social media is another great (and free) way to promote your content to the world, although it works best if you put a bit of thought into it and write engaging, friendly statuses and tweets along with the links you’re posting. Ask questions, start a conversation, and even do things like run contests every so often.
Your posts can also be varied depending on the platform you’re posting on. For instance, Twitter works best when your updates and short, snappy and humourous/entertaining, whereas on Facebook you can afford to go into a bit more detail (if relevant).
According to Social Media Examiner, marketers use visual content and collages most often on social media, although they report blogs remain the most important to their success. And content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.
TIP: Although I’d recommend taking the time to engage and respond to comments on social media, it can soak up your time, so try to allow yourself just 20 – 30 minutes per day for these activities (If you can afford it).
3. Post your content to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is now a publishing platform in itself, as well as a useful networking tool. Using it to upload your content can be another great way to encourage more traffic to your site – especially as you build up more of a following and receive more engagement with your posts.
Plus, publishing a post is free, simple, and will only take you a couple of minutes. For more reasons to post your content on LinkedIn, read this blog entitled ‘6 Benefits of LinkedIn Publishing You Can’t Ignore’.
4. Create and upload useful SlideShares
With over 60 million monthly visitors, SlideShare is perfect for ramping up your content marketing strategy, but it’s also pretty good for driving referral traffic and SEO, too. A bonus is that you can probably go back and utilise some of your existing content to create powerful slideshares with just a few quick tweaks.
Just remember to use SlideShare to send readers back to your site once they’ve read your presentation, otherwise you could be missing out on a lot of traffic that you’ve already engaged with that great content.
TIP: Crazy Egg has put together 21 Resources to Help You Rock SlideShare for Marketing, and it contains everything you need to get started.
5. Start guest writing for other websites and blogs
Once you feel confident with your content marketing abilities and feel you have something to offer, try reaching out to other websites and online publications to see if they’d be interested in publishing one of your blogs or article ideas – it could be something you haven’t even written yet, which can be exclusively for them.
Guest writing in this way can prove very fruitful, especially if it’s a website that already has a large readership who are likely to be interested in the topic you choose to write about. Or another option is to invite popular bloggers and industry experts to guest write a blog for you.
Of course, having regular guest writers can also make it easier for ensuring you’re publishing lots of lovely, regular and varied content to your blog, which is never a bad thing.
6. Affiliate networks
Another way to drive more traffic without actually advertising it yourself, is through affiliate networks. Essentially, you set up an affiliate network by offering one or two companies or websites a percentage of commission for each sale they make of your product or service.
Getting started with an affiliate network can be a bit tricky, but once you have the first couple on board, and show that it’s definitely going to pay off, more websites will likely become interested and you can take your offer to affiliate websites such as Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction).
7. Incorporate intelligent email marketing
It’s always good practice to incorporate email marketing into any strategy, so when thinking of new ways to drive more traffic to your website, don’t neglect it by any means. Have clear touch points that allow people to easily sign up to your newsletter, or download a piece of premium content in exchange for their email address.
Once someone has entered their email address in this way, you can send them helpful content to nurture them along their buyer’s journey. You can use email marketing to address key challenges and concerns they might have along the way, as well as promote the occasional offer. Just don’t be too salesy or ‘spam’ people.
8. Try implementing schema microdata
This is one to be taken with a pinch of salt, as incorporating scheme microdata on its own won’t actually increase your website traffic – anyone who tells you so doesn’t quite have a handle on how it actually works. However, it DOES make it easier for Google bots to index your web pages. Meaning they’ll show up in search faster.
It’s also not only good practice to do this, it also helps improve your rich site snippets, so your click-through rate may become higher as a result.
TIP: Here’s a good resource on how to get started using schema microdata, which can work with most major search engines.
9. Establish yourself as a thought leader
Becoming a thought leader in your industry isn’t just as simple as writing a few blog posts. Of course, your main focus will (and should be) on providing helpful, quality content that your ideal customers (or buyer personas) will want to read and find useful, but in order to be a thought leader, you have to go further.
By giving more insight into your industry as whole, addressing problems, challenges and issues that industry is currently facing, and providing potential solutions (or at least starting the conversation), your content will start to get noticed by others who will look to you as an authority figure.
If you can use your expertise and knowledge to talk about these important issues, you may start to lead the way for others to follow – and that’s a good thing, as you’ll be driving progress and making friends along the way. People will start linking to you as an authority on specific subjects, and you’ll get more engagement, too.
TIP: For some insight into the real hot topics people are reading and engaging with at the moment, check out BuzzSumo. It tells you which content is resonating with readers, so you can then improve on it and add your own two-pence worth into the mix.
10. Interview other thought leaders in your industry
Another good way to drive traffic is by recognising the value other thought leaders bring to your industry by interviewing them for your own blog. Most people who take the time to write their own challenging and inspiring content should also be up for giving interviews and answering some good (and relevant) questions.
One of the best bits of advice I can give you here is to thoroughly think about your questions and plan them out before your interview. Think about the tone you want to have – it shouldn’t 100% serious; there should also be room for a bit of fun, and the entire thing should be entertaining for others to read.
If all goes well, the other person will most likely link to the interview from their own blog, and especially if they have a large following, it should also be a great way to drive traffic back to you. Plus, you might just learn a thing or two!
11. Comment on other blogs
If you’re regularly keeping up-to-date with other relevant blogs and hot topics in your industry (again, BuzzSumo is good for this), then you may occasionally find yourself with something valuable you’d like to add to what’s already been written – and you absolutely should, in the form of a comment!
Just remember to keep your comments light, informative, and free of negativity – starting a full-blown argument could backfire on you. Some also advise not to do this on the blogs of your direct competitors, out of respect.
12. Host or record a webinar
Hosting or recording a webinar is another great way to drive – and build – more traffic to your website. And especially if your recorded webinar is particularly helpful (perhaps a really in-depth ‘how to’ with questions at the end), you may find a lot of other sources will be happy to link to it in their own content.
Just remember to keep your webinar focused, entertaining and to-the-point – going off in one tangent or another could quickly turn people off, as no-one wants to feel like they’re wasting their time.
13. Submit to content aggregator websites
If you can get your content listed on various content aggregator websites, there’s the high likelihood that a lot more people will see it, resulting in higher traffic coming back to you (at least, that’s the plan). Just remember to only submit to aggregator sites that are relevant to your content.
Here is a list of some of the most popular content aggregators:
- BizSugar.com (geared towards small businesses and entrepreneurs)
- Hacker News (catering to programmers and entrepreneurs)
- Inbound.org (this is one that I would use, as it’s more for marketers)
- Alltop (known as an ‘online magazine rack’ of sorts)
So, there we have it! Above are 13 effective ways you can drive traffic to your website without advertising – just remember that some of these are more effective than others, and your main focus should always be on providing helpful, quality content and resources to the people that matter most; your best customers.
In other words, don’t just do some of these for the sake of search engine rankings or referrals – after all, it’s not about tricking Google, it’s about demonstrating you care about and listen to your customers, and want to become a helpful resource that’s worthy of their time.
Which of the above methods have you tried, and what kind of results did you see? Is there anything on this list I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments!