So, let me get this straight. You want to grow your website traffic without Google? (Indrawn breath)
It may seem like heresy, but diversifying your traffic sources is an extremely smart move. Here’s why it’s smart to break the chain like grip Google has on your web traffic strategy:
- Although 90% of web activity still starts with a search, very few people go past page 2 of the results – so if your site aren’t there, Google isn’t helping you anyway.
- Ever-evolving Google algorithms such as Panda and Penguin has effectively ruled out search engine optimization as a valid traffic-building option for many sites – the 2014 Panda 4.1 update decreased the visibility of hundreds of sites by an average of 70%
- Since Google is constantly evolving its algorithms, you’ll never know if all your hard work and investment is going to pay off since you may become the victim of their next sweep.
The very volatility of the situation means that it’s no longer smart to count on Google as your sole source of web traffic. As in everything business-related, diversification is the key to long term sustainability.
So, without further ado, here are the top 5 ways to grow your website traffic without Google:
1. Answer a Question
A large chunk of the people using the Internet are there to find answers to their probing questions. If you can pinpoint which questions people are looking to have answered within your niche, you can craft a blog post, tutorial, podcast, or other form of on-site asset that answers their question, embed that asset in your website, and then throw up a little flag in the Internet sea to say, “Hey guys – OVER HERE!”. (Clue: the little flag doesn’t have to be put up in the Google search engine). Traffic then flows to your site.
Two things to keep in mind when selecting what question to answer are:
- Are many people interested in finding the answer to this question? (Enough to justify a post?)
- If the question has been answered elsewhere, can I answer it in a better, more comprehensive way? Alternatively, can I throw a flag up directing people to my answer better than all the other answer-providers?
Q&A sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and Klout are an excellent source for finding out what people are inquiring about. Quora is perhaps the best place to start. Keep these tips in mind:
- Search for a specific question and if an answer has been posted, you can read how many people are interested in knowing the answer, thus allowing you to test potential reach.
- The number of upvotes will tell you how well the existing answer content ranks (think about how you can do it better).
- If you craft an answer for one of these Q&A sites, make sure that it is primed to drive referral traffic back to your site, as this man in the example below did (by dropping a link to his website, a link to helpful content/longer articles on the subject, a brief bio of who he is and why you should listen to his answer, etc.):
By doing this, you will be planting little referral flags within non-Google sites that direct traffic back to your website – and all without getting the mighty Google involved.
Another way to find out what your potential traffic stream is looking for is to apply an advanced segment to your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to locate the exact keyword searches used by people to find your website. If you can frame their keyword searches as questions and then answer them comprehensibly on your site, then you are providing a resource people want.
The key is this: once you’ve crafted an answer, you can use a variety of non-Google platforms to advertise your ‘answer’ resource, including Facebook, Twitter, the Q&A sites, niche forums, and additionally, any site that is already perfectly designed for content discovery, and works like a quasi-search engine itself (iTunes, YouTube, etc.).
2. Quality Blog Commenting
Like guest posting, commenting on blogs has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the past few years – mostly because spammers have filled a lot of the comments with spammy links coupled with poor or no content. Fight back with substantive, quality commenting – it’s still one of the top ways you can drive traffic to your site without using Google. The same general principles of quality guest posting apply to blog commenting, and are as follows:
- Comment using the highest quality, meatiest, most epic content you can. You are aiming to add substance to the important conversations going on in your niche, build your reputation, and establish your authority.
- Don’t drop links to your site in the comment. If you really feel you have to, at the very least make sure the link is to a blog post or resource on your website that’s relevant to the subject being discussed. Make sure the link is woven naturally into a larger, substantive comment. However, in general, it’s best not to risk being added to a spam blocking list, even mistakenly.
- Allow your signature and Disqus profile to do most of the heavy lifting for you with regards to referral traffic. If the blog owner or other readers are sufficiently impressed with your comments on the site, they will be sure to check you out themselves by looking at your Google+ and Disqus profile, or by clicking on your link to your website in your signature (links can be included in your signature, so use them here).
- Think of blog commenting as a long-term relationship building exercise in your niche.
- Don’t ever waste a commenting opportunity by saying something like, “Yes, I agree” or “Great review” – you want to become known for contributing to great content, not for simply nodding your head in the appropriate places.
Oh, and also? Guest posting. Just do it. It’s also a fabulous non-Google traffic driver.
3. Use Search Engines Other Than Google
Wait – there are search engines other than Google?
Actually, if we’re going to get all technical about it, the sites we are talking about are not really search engines in and of themselves. They are sites that are so perfectly designed for discovery that we might as well call them powerful search engines for specific market segments. In other words, people are searching actively within these sites every day for content (and all without going over to Google).
These include: iTunes, YouTube, Reddit, SlideShare, Q&A sites such as Quora, and Pinterest.
For example, YouTube was built for discovery, with its powerful search engine and its system of suggesting similar content to what you were just looking at. If you can create a video that explains the content of your site or your product in a funny and visually engaging way, then YouTube is a brilliant way to drive traffic in your direction.
And the audience is huge. More teenagers use YouTube than Facebook – a fact that may surprise you. YouTube is fantastic at sending referral traffic back to your site even if the video is old, because YouTube content tends to be evergreen – i.e., if it’s good or interesting, people will always want to watch it, even five years down the road.
The same goes for iTunes. Their podcast feature is simple to use, and free. A great idea would be to host a Q&A session with an expert or guest (that addresses one of the questions people have about your product, or in general, as discussed in number 1 on this list), record it as a podcast, and then embed it on your site and make it searchable within iTunes.
You can even embed the podcast in YouTube, providing you upload it with some cool slideshow images to prevent the visual users of YouTube getting bored and moving on to something else. In both YouTube and iTunes podcasts, you can include your website link in the upload bio, embed it on your site, and circulate in your social media – all with the aim of directing referral traffic back your way.
Pinterest is another incredible resource for catching referral traffic outside of a Google setting. Simply upload all the cool photos, images, and infographics onto your Pinterest accounts as Pins, track which pins are popular, and start scattering urls around them to draw traffic back to your site. Just keep in mind with Pinterest that:
- No spamming or overtly commercial linking will be tolerated, so only drop the odd url in there for a relevant article or blog post relating to the pictorial content on Pinterest.
- For example, if you sell healthy eating books and tools, put up pins of healthy meals that contain a url to a resource on your site such as a free recipe, or a blog post on how to get your child to eat a healthy breakfast. In other words, link the url to relevant content, not a product or service.
- The Pinterest audience is predominantly female and crafts-focused, so if your site has nothing to do with those market segments, don’t try to force a fit. Either Pinterest is right for you, or it’s not.
4. Fish for Traffic in the Social Media Streams of Social Influencers
In terms of driving click-through traffic to your site, Facebook and Twitter are not what they once were. These days, it’s tough to break through the sheer amount of clutter on our social feeds. Even if people “like” or “re-tweet” a blog post or tweet you’ve written, it doesn’t mean that they’ve actually gone to your site. So, how to get more people to your website from the volatile, ADHD-like social media environment we are dealing with these days?
One answer is to make a grab for the social media audience of social influencers in your niche. All of the following tactics have the effect of placing your website’s name in front of their large social media following and drawing them back to your site:
- Get a high-profile social influencer in your niche to agree to do an interview with you (either written, podcast or video), embed it on your site and social media feed, promote, and wait for the flattered social influencer to promote the interview (which will include a mention of your site’s name, if not a link) on their social media feed.
- Host or sponsor a webinar or video panel with industry experts that are also active on social media, thus bringing in mentions and links to your site from numerous influencers at once.
- Crowd-source an article or blog post: ask thirty-odd social influencers in your niche to contribute their thoughts on a subject or theme, include their bios in the article, embed the piece on your site, and all contributors will be delighted to talk up the article on their social media feed.
5. Slide Share and Quizzes
If you any doubt that quizzes are not a super-popular thing on social media right now, then we’d bet that you haven’t been on Facebook for a while. Much of Buzzfeed’s website traffic comes from quizzes posted on Facebook feeds (and not from a Google search). Here’s a sample of some of the recent quizzes below:
These quizzes are an incredibly fun and shareable way of getting people to engage directly with the content of a website – titles such as “Can we tell if you’re actually in your twenties?” got over 820 people involved. And all from social media feeds too!If you can create a similarly fun, juicy quiz that gets people on social media talking about you or visiting your site to participate, then you have a win-win situation on your hands.
Along similar lines, Slide Share allows users to create an easy-to-browse slideshow that delivers a message using a series of pictures, images, or infographics. Once created, you can embed it in your website, share the url on social media, and promote it as a resource. The slide shows can range from the funny to the touching to the purely educational, as you can see from a cross-section of slideshows on the website at the time of writing:
Of course, it’s nice to have Google on your side….but if it’s not helping you right now, be creative, try a few new things, diversify your sources of web traffic, and relax a little bit about Google rankings and algorithms. In other words – get a few more baskets to put those eggs in.
Main Image via Shutterstock