4 Lies About How to Increase Traffic on a Website
(and the Truth)
Guest Post By Carter Bowles
You've read it all and tried it all. You should be an expert by now, but the traffic isn’t coming. You’ve had a few successes, but they were always temporary. Why? Because you’re being lied to.
Lie #1: Viral Content is the Best Way to Grow Traffic
Don’t get me wrong: the ability to make things go viral is a great skill to have. I highly suggest cultivating it. But viral content always, always, always takes some luck. You can quantify things with a “viral coefficient” or a “virality score” as much as you want, but at the end of the day it’s very difficult to predict what will go viral and why.
Yes, science demonstrates that surprising, intriguing, amusing, visual content is more likely to go viral, and yes, you should make an effort to pull this off with every piece of content you produce. But if you think you’re going to discover the secret formula for producing a piece of content that gets shared with and accepted by more than one person for every person who sees it, let’s just say that even BuzzFeed would be envious.
No viral strategy is repeatable. Even if it were, you couldn’t use it to grow traffic. Viral traffic streams always run dry eventually. Viral content sends massive bursts of traffic. It does not grow traffic.
Lie #2: Post Every Day or More and the Traffic Will Surely Follow
The truth is that it doesn’t much matter how often you post. Tim Ferris posts just a few times a week or less and almost always gets about 100 comments on every one of them. The only reason people seem to think post frequency matters is because people who care deeply about their blog tend to post more often. It’s a confusion of cause and effect.
Don’t get me wrong: if you are prolific, more content will get indexed in the search engines, and you will inevitably get some growth. But you can’t achieve the kind of growth you need in order to sustain a business just by posting more often.
Lie #3: Write About Current Events
News outlets don’t earn traffic because they write about current events. They earn traffic because they are the first to write about current events. Unless you’re actually breaking a news story, unless you’re an investigative reporter yourself, writing about current events isn’t going to help you grow traffic.
Current events fade as quickly as they come. By the time you’ve finished your blog post about the latest current event, the trend has already shifted downward, and you’ll only catch the tail end of the traffic surge as it fades away into nothingness.
Lie #4: Just Focus on Building Links
Nobody with any knowledge of SEO can stand here and say that links don’t matter. Authoritative links have incredible power and can improve your visibility in the search results. Link building can be an important part of increasing traffic on your site.
But if you are spending more of your efforts on manually building links than you are on maintaining your own site, you are chasing a failed strategy. Exactly zero of the top sites on the web invest much of their attention on building links. They succeed in the search engines because they earn natural links.
Manually building authoritative links is an ethical and justifiable marketing strategy, but it should only make up a portion of your strategy.
The Truth: Only Cumulative Traffic Matters
Traffic growth only happens when the number of site visits…grows. There are only three ways that this can happen:
- Your traffic sources send more visitors each month
- Your number of traffic sources increases each month
- Every new visitor this month increases the number of repeat visits next month
And so, at the end of the day, there are only three core strategies for growing traffic:
- Finding ways to increase the number of visitors from a single traffic source
- Finding ways to increase the number of traffic sources
- Finding ways to keep visitors coming back
These are the only three strategies that matter if you want to see traffic growth. Let me repeat that. These are the only three strategies that matter if you want your traffic levels to grow each month. No matter what you’re doing right now, if it isn’t built around at least one of these three strategies, it will fail, guaranteed.
And so, these are the three things you should do right now if you want to grow your traffic:
- Measure what actions led to a permanent increase in traffic from your most important traffic sources.
- Measure which traffic sources sent sustainable, passive traffic, and seek referrals from similar sources.
- Measure which actions convinced visitors to keep coming back, and optimize that process.
Then just replicate and test, replicate and test. Are there any other lies you fell for? Tell us in the comments!
Image credit: Dyanna Hyde
Carter Bowles is a freelance writer, science blogger, and SEO enthusiast for Northcutt. He lives in Idaho with is wife and daughter, where he is pursuing degrees in physics and statistics.