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Sometimes it seems like the contact page on your website has stopped working. Some weeks nobody comments on your blog posts or even calls your business at all!

It’s probably not a case that you made a bad decision when you chose a web designer, or that they did a bad job for you. Your website could look perfectly professional, beautiful even. It could be well built and showcase what you do excellently but simply put, enough people just aren’t finding your website.

The good news (for you) is that this is the norm for every website at one time online. Better news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can change it and I’m going to show you how in this post.

The problem:

Think of your website as a little shop in a massive, busy city.

Right now, your shop is buried at the end of a gloomy, forbidding alleyway…the kind no self respecting customer would want to walk down. You need to move to a better location. Somewhere you have much better visibility.

Somewhere it’s easy for your customers to find you. You also need to consider how you are going to advertise your shop.

Online the “digital footprint” of your website is the equivalent of a brick and mortar business’ physical location. The bigger the footprint, the better the location. The better the location, the more customers you will get, so our goal is simple: increase the size of your digital footprint.

10 Digital Footprint Increasing Traffic Tweaks:

Firstly its very important to have a website, so if you’ve got one that you are happy with then that’s a great start.

However, there is an extremely important concept you need to understand before we go any further: you can have shelves in your shop that go all the way to the ceiling, beautiful signs and marble floors. You could spend all day working inside your shop to make it more appealing to people, but if they don’t realise you are open for business and never come in, then your work is for naught.

It’s the same online. Please don’t think that changing your website’s design is going to increase your traffic. It won’t. If you want more traffic, leads and eventual customers from your website, you need to concern yourself with the things you can do elsewhere on the web.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is any good then wonder no longer, as we will create a completely free report for you outlining the good, bad and ugly of your website. Simply click here and we will take a look at your website for you and give you actionable feedback so you have a clear idea of where you stand.

1: Email Marketing

The Internet is a massive place, as we have already established. People bounce from site to site around it as they need. Think about how many times you’ve discovered a new website, had a thought about it and then never gone back. Even if you wanted to go back, maybe you couldn’t remember what the domain name was.

Email marketing will allow you to pull a small percentage of your visitors back to your site for a return visit and all you really have to do (if you blog) is add an opt-in form to each page of your website. In WordPress this is really simple if you use a service like Mailchimp, CreateSend or Aweber.

The added benefit of setting things up like this is that you then also have an email list that you can occasionally send value led marketing messages to. I’ll be writing a post on how to set this up very soon so pop your email address into the box on the top right of this page to receive that update directly into your Inbox. ????

2: Social Media

Setting up social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn is a good idea. If you do anything that involves photography or illustration, you should also sign up to Pinterest and Deviant Art. If you ever create video or make guest appearances on TV then you should definitely have a YouTube channel.

Make sure that somewhere (usually in the About Me section) in your social account profile that you add a clickable link back to your website. This will help you with direct traffic and also it will help your SEO in some cases.

Connect to everybody you know on all the social networks you sign up for. The more people you are connected to, the more people who will see your content when you share it.

3: Blog regularly

It doesn’t matter if this is once per month or five times per week. What is important is that you have a blog on your website and that you add content to it on a regular basis. If you have a blog on an external site like WordPress.com or Blogger.com then it won’t be helping your website rank better on Google as much as it would if the blog were part of your site.

Now if you are thinking: “well hold on Neil, I thought you said I should be concentrating on what I can do elsewhere on the net”, then you are correct.

However there are two ways to look at blog posts. The first is that you are improving your website by adding new, fresh content to it. The second way is to see blog posts as an opportunity to start a conversation with prospective clients. It allows you to showcase your expertise, but it also gives you a chance to discuss what you know on social media. Finally each blog post is an opportunity to rank for something new on Google.

The most important thing you can do to make sure your blogging efforts pay dividends is to ensure that the content you produce is Epic. Rushed deadline driven mediocre content is just a waste of your time. You would be better off publishing one epic post per month than 5 mediocre posts per week.

This article here is a great guide to get you started.

4: Share Your Content Socially

Stop! Your job is not done when you are finished writing that post and you press the Publish button. You need to make sure that at the very least you are sharing your content with your friends, fans and followers. A simple way to do this is to click on all of the social sharing buttons at the bottom of your published post.

Alternatively you can setup a tool like Dlvr.it to automatically distribute your blog posts to your social networks so that all you need to do after you post is check in on the various networks to see if anyone has commented on your update and given you a chance to engage (chat) with them.

5: Schedule extra content updates

Did you know that when you post to Twitter or Facebook that only a small percentage of your fans/followers will actually see your update? Not all the people that are connected to you are online all the time – some will be in different time zones or just busy with their lives. Others will have lots of friends/fans and the more popular they are the more quickly their “timeline” or “feed” will move.

So how do you increase the number of eyeballs that view your epic blog post that you spent your precious time crafting?

Simple! You schedule extra updates to your various social platforms for the same content. I use a tool called Hootsuite to manage my social media accounts but there are others such as TweetDeck and Buffer. I like Hootsuite because it has great scheduling functionality built into it for a measly $5 per month.

Once per month I sit down for a few hours and I add the URLs for the last months “evergreen” blog posts we’ve written to  a spreadsheet I keep. Then I compose  2 updates per day for Twitter, 2 for Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Once that’s done it’s simply a question of using Hootsuite to schedule the updates over the course of the next month.

Its important to make sure your updates go at different times of the day. These updates combined with the new content we will create next month and our conversational updates/RTs and sharing of other people’s content comprise our social media effort and these latter types of updates are also crucial to balance your efforts and promote better engagement.

6: Bookmark your posts after you publish them

This is really the most simple of all the tips in this post. Its such a simple thing that most people neglect. After you’ve finished posting your blog post, view it in a new window and scroll down to where you have your social sharing buttons. Depending on what plugin you’ve used you may have sites such as:

Reddit
Digg
StumbleUpon
Delicious

There are lots of others but those are the most popular and traffic’d. Again (like on Twitter) if you share other people’s content via your account on those bookmarking sites people will be more likely to share your content in return.

7: Add Strong Calls To Action

Adding a strong Call To Action is something you should do with absolutely every single page on your website and your blog posts are no different. What is it you want your readers to do when they’ve finished your blog post?

Write a comment? Sign up for your newsletter? Share your post on Social Media? Whatever it is, ask/tease/question/command them to do it at the end of your post. All of these things will promote better traffic so play around with them and see which one gets you the best results for your site from your audience.

8: Link Building

Link building has grown the traffic to this blog by a massive amount. It’s one of a number of reasons we’re currently ranked 2nd on Google.ie for the term Web Design Company, as well as about 300 other terms. We blog frequently which really helps us too but the benefit of that blogging is amplified substantially by the link building work we do.

Link building is an absolutely massive area of knowledge and it refers to the art of finding places online (that are not on your own website) where you can create a link that points back to your own site. So for example when you post an update to Twitter about your latest blog post and the tweet has a link in it to that post, you have effectively created a back link to your own site from Twitter’s site.

(I promise I’ll write more posts on this subject very soon here because I’m going to share some of my findings from the various campaigns we ran in 2013 (so subscribe on the top right of the blog!!) )

For this post I just want to make you aware that link building comes in a number of forms as follows:

  • Links you build yourself directly
  • Links that other people build for you
  • Links that you attract with your content

The first two types of link building Google frowns upon but despite their frowning can be hugely effective. HOWEVER there is a caveat to that – it is incredibly easy these days to get your website into trouble from a ranking perspective with Google if you do this wrong. Google are constantly updating their search algo to prevent this type of activity and since 2005 when I started studying SEO, how this type of activity can be done effectively has changed dramatically.

Unless you are prepared to dedicate yourself to continuously learning about SEO from now on (I’m still learning things to this day because the landscape keeps changing so much) I’d recommend avoiding the first option. The 2nd option is still a reasonably viable one, however there is only one safe way to do this type of link building work and that’s to hire a reputable SEO agency who can prove their previous results.

If you are a website owner looking for traffic from the search engines through activities you are going to undertake yourself, I strongly recommend you focus only on the 3rd type of link building. This in what I like to think of as Inbound Link Building, a sort of subset of an Inbound Marketing methodology: you provide value to your readers through excellent content and they in return link to it from their blogs/Twitter feeds/Facebook accounts etc.

More on this in another post.

9: Guest Post

Guest posting is a great way to build traffic to your website. The process involves you writing a blog post for somebody else’s blog. This target blog should be somewhere that your target market read but preferably not in competition. For example I far too occasionally write posts for the TweakYourBiz business blog because it’s a blog for business people with a much larger readership than our own blog here.

When I publish a post there some people will read it and decide to check out what else I have to say. As a consequence we get a bump in traffic to our site. A second benefit is that at the bottom of each post there is a link back to our site in my author bio box. This link is what people click to quickly get to our site but its also a “backlink” in Google’s eyes which helps us with SEO too.

Conclusion

There is nothing earth shattering in this post in its own right, however all 9 of these elements combined will help you grown your traffic (and by consequence your business) in 2014. In future posts I will be delving into more detail on some of these points in a much more actionable way with guides and how-to’s. Particularly in the areas of how to use email marketing to boost traffic, how to use Link Building to boost your profile and traffic and how to use Blogging to boost traffic.

Its difficult to find a good balance to all these activities so having a deeper understanding of exactly the activities you need to do and how long they will take you should help you choose which are the most important for your business in 2014.

As always if you have any questions about any of the above, don’t be shy – pop your question into the comments below.