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It’s probably fair to say that almost every website owner I ever speak to tells me that they feel that they need to get more visitors to their website.

In this article, I’m going to take you through six key things you can do to get more visitors to your website.

They are:

  1. Create great content
  2. Create an email marketing list (and use it)
  3. Optimize your website for search engines
  4. Get links from other websites
  5. Advertise your website
  6. Engage with social media

1. Create great content

Great content tells your target audience (that’s people remember) what they want to know. It answers their questions. It solves their problems. It might inspire them to do something.

Great content also contributes to you achieving your objectives. (I’m assuming that you’re creating content for a reason?)

I read a lot of articles that urge website owners to create more content – usually because it’s considered to be a ‘good thing’ for search engine optimization.

The authors of those articles often offer content-writing services. (In the interests of full disclosure, I offer content-writing services!)

I believe that what website owners should really be doing is creating better (ideally great) content. I’m pretty sure I’m right, because Google says the same!

Now – if you create enough content then there’s a chance that you’ll create some great content. But wouldn’t it be better if you only created great content?

I take the view that every piece of content you create should have a very clear target audience. It should address some specific need that exists in their lives.

I also take the view that you should have a very clear idea of what you want your target audience to do – either whilst they’re consuming your content or after they’ve consumed it – that contributes to you achieving one or more of your objectives.

That might mean following a link, sharing the content with someone, signing up for your newsletter, clicking ‘add to basket’, or trying a new yoga position. Whatever you think represents success.

If you create content that addresses the needs of your target audience, and contributes to you achieving one or more of your objectives, then there’s a fighting chance it will be great!

2. Create an email marketing list (and use it)

Creating content isn’t just for your website. The power of email means that you can deliver your content direct to the inboxes of your target audience.

To do that, you need to create an email marketing list.

At its most basic, an email marketing list is no more than a list of emails. But if you’ve been with me from the beginning of this article, you’ll almost certainly have an inkling about what I’m going to say next.

Don’t just collect email addresses!

Collect whatever information you reasonably (and legally) can that supports being able to allocate the email address owner to one or more segments of your target audience.

Then you can email them with content that is most likely to align with their needs, which means they’re more likely to take the action you want them to take, and less likely to click on the (mandatory) ‘unsubscribe’ link.

(Collecting email addresses means that you’re going to have to jump through some hoops relating to data protection and privacy, but they’re not as onerous as you might think.)

An email marketing list is no use unless you actually use it.

You need to send emails often enough that the recipients remember signing up and don’t flag your message as spam, but not so often that you cheese them off (and make them click on that ‘unsubscribe’ link).

So. How often should you be sending emails?

I generally reckon between once per week and once per month, but it really depends on your target audience. The best approach is to let recipient feedback be your guide.

3. Optimize your website for search engines

Most articles that aim to help website owners get more traffic start with search engine optimization.

The authors of those articles often offer search engine optimization services. (In the interests of full disclosure, I offer search engine optimization services!)

I’ve deliberately left suggesting that you optimize your website for search engines until this point in my article. That’s because:

  1. If you’re using a half-decent WordPress theme and a search engine optimization plugin then a lot of the heavy lifting has probably already been done for you.
  1. Google in particular is becoming increasingly adept at scanning your content and figuring out what to do with it.
  1. By putting search engine optimization up front I think there’s a very real danger that website owners become fixated on it. They create content for Google rather than people (and as you already know, I think you should create content for people).

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t check that you’re ticking all of the major search engine optimization boxes, so this is as good a place as any to suggest that you carry out a search engine optimization audit and take appropriate action as seems necessary.

Just be aware that improving your position in Google search takes time (often measured in months).

I’d treat anyone who promises fast results, or promises to get you on the first page of Google, with extreme caution. There’s a very real danger they’ll be misleading you (which is bad enough), but they may also be engaging in shady practices (which could actually worsen your position, or even get you banned).

One of the tactics routinely touted as being a ‘must do’ in articles about search engine optimization is to get links to your website from other websites.

The authors of those articles often offer link-building services which may (or may not) be a factor in their content creation strategy.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I DO NOT offer link-building services!)

Getting links to your website from other sites that are relevant to your target audience is undoubtedly a good thing, because:

  • Links were originally designed to be followed by people. If someone follows one from a relevant site to yours then you’ve gained yourself a visitor who is probably ‘of the right sort’.
  • Links are followed by Google and the other search engines. There is a view (at least among search engine optimization specialists) that the more links you have the more highly Google rates your website and/or that links from highly ranked websites are particularly valuable.

If you create great content then other websites will link to it (and to your website generally) over time without you having to do anything else.

But it takes a long time.

There are various strategies you can follow to speed the process up, which I’ll write about in a future article.

The one thing I’d say here is that you should be cautious about paying for links. Google used to treat all links as being good, then it began treating paid-for links as potentially very bad indeed, and now…

Well, nobody is quite sure (so perhaps best to treat paying for links as something to avoid for now at least)!

Whilst Google has taken a dim view of website owners paying for links to their sites from other sites, it has no qualms whatsoever about accepting payments from website owners in order to buy links (in the form of advertising) from Google’s search pages.

If you need traffic to your website quickly then advertising on Google, social media sites and other websites that accept advertising (which you can do via Google) is pretty much the biggest game in town.

Your now well-defined target audience and your quality content will help to maximize your return for your advertising spend.

But don’t overlook more ‘traditional’ forms of advertising such as printed and broadcast media, trade directories, etc as perfectly valid ways of driving traffic to your website.

6. Engage with social media

In my final statement of full disclosure for this article I feel it is only fair to point out that I come from an age that pre-dates social media. (Things just seemed somehow better then!)

Notwithstanding my personal prejudice, social media has a potential part to play in driving more traffic to your website (and a separate part to play in supporting your organization in ways that may not involve your website at all).

There are two particular things you should keep in mind if you are thinking about engaging with social media:

  1. Social media is quite segmented. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and the rest have quite specific target audiences. It often makes sense to pick one or two that align with your own target audience rather than try to embrace them all.
  1. The key to social media is often engagement. You need to be prepared to interact with your target audience (and that takes time and sometimes requires a thick skin).