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by John Eberhard

You have a web site, and you have Google Analytics running on the site, so now you know how many visitors you’re getting. And let’s say you find out that it’s not very much traffic. What do you do?

First let’s define how much is not very much traffic. This is relative, and subject to opinion. It also depends on whether the site is a specialized business to business (B2B) site or a more general business to consumer (B2C) site. But we can say without too much risk that if you’re getting less than, say, 300 visitors to your site per month, then that’s not very much.

In my earlier article, Web Site Conversions, I covered what to do if you find you have decent amounts of traffic coming to the site, but a low number of people filling out your forms and giving you their name and email.

This is now the other side of the coin. What do you do when you discover you’re just getting very low traffic?

I would say that web site traffic generation falls mainly into these categories:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Pay per click advertising
  3. Social media marketing
  4. Blogging
  5. SEO and link building

Email Marketing

This can be a very effective way of driving traffic to a web site. The most effective method is to build up your in-house list of prospects and customers, and to mail to it regularly.

I have had some success from purchased lists or from compiling lists myself from various web sites, such as state and local associations of various professions that list the emails of their members. Of course you have to be aware of the laws regarding emailing and follow them fully.

If you use an in-house list or purchased or compiled lists, you can email aggressively and drive traffic inexpensively.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay per click advertising (PPC) through Google AdWords, MSN Ad Center or Facebook, is very effective in driving traffic to a web site. Of course it costs money, so I usually recommend it for companies that are already a going concern and can afford to put a certain amount of budget towards it. I usually recommend companies to put at least $1,000 per month into the budget.

But PPC advertising is very effective and can be set up and running in a relatively short period of time.

Social Media Marketing

Social media web sites can be used very effectively to drive traffic to your site. The two key actions are 1) build up a large list of friends/followers/connections, and 2) create an effective strategy of communicating regularly to those lists.

I have written at length elsewhere on effective social media strategies so I won’t cover them here. One important thing to know is that social media can be used to market a business, and relatively inexpensively. But it does usually involve a commitment of time, either by you or in paying someone to do it for you.

Blogging

Most people don’t realize that a blog can be used to drive traffic. I run several blogs, and write an article on marketing once a week throughout the year. That blog drives more traffic to my site than any other single source, including Google.

The key is to write something regularly (once a week or more), and ensure that a “ping” is sent to the blog search engines after every single post you make (WordPress does this automatically). Then make sure you have items in your sidebars that link back to your main web site. The idea is that the search engines drive people to the blog, then links on the blog will send them to your main site.

SEO and Link Building

Search engine optimization (SEO) means to select keywords that have decent traffic but not much competition, then put those keywords into all the areas of your web site where it is acceptable to do so. Link building means to build up links on other web sites linking back to pages on your site. Google says that their main criteria for deciding how high to rank your site is the number of links to it from other sites, so this is important.

SEO and link building, both together, are perhaps the most important action in building consistent traffic to a web site. But the thing is, it takes a definite commitment and a bit of time (6 months to a year or more) to do it. And it takes a budget. We are doing this for several of our clients. But it is not necessarily something I recommend for a small business.

Summary
The primary actions to build web site traffic are:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Pay per click advertising
  3. Social media marketing
  4. Blogging
  5. SEO and link building

For the small business with a limited budget, I’d recommend email marketing, social media marketing, and blogging.

For the medium sized to larger business, I’d recommend all of the above actions.

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