This is not one of those link bait blog posts you typically see telling you how you can drive millions of visitors to your web site so you can get rich quick and buy a tropical island. What this post does do is share the actual steps I used to boost my web site traffic from 50 visitors per day to 10,000 in only 10 days and to generate nearly 5,000 inbound links in that same period.
Let’s face it, 10,000 visitors is nothing to sneeze at, but it is still not a staggering amount of traffic in real world terms. That being said, it’s a really good start and the techniques I used to do it still apply for increasing traffic to even greater numbers.
Principle Number 1: Self-interest Drives the Web
The number one rule is – you have to offer something people want. The truth is, unless you are a trend-maker, web users don’t care about your opinion or your site. They are only interested in what they stand to gain from visiting your site. I don’t mean this to disparage web users: this is as it should be.
I created a set of over 650 high quality custom icons. I think it helps that I created them out of a passion for icons and I have a unique style that I have honed over two decades. The price (Free) doesn’t hurt either.
Principle Number 2: Just Ask
You will be amazed how willing people are to help if you just ask. This fact was the biggest surprise to me. I decided to just write to some well-known web sites such as SmashingMagazine.com and ask them if they would feature my icons – and they did.
While people are willing to be helpful, don’t forget Principle #1, however. The objective of these other sites is to increase their own equity and readership so your site needs to offer them something to help achieve that goal. Your content must be appealing to their audience.
It is also important to be respectful and treat others as you would want to be treated. My advice is to just be straight with other site owners about what you are asking, don’t make lame promises about referring traffic to their site and so forth and keep it brief and to the point. Just ask in plain language and let them decide for themselves.
In my case, I wrote something very simple and to the point:
“Hi. I saw your post about free icon sets and was hoping I could get you to take a look at my free set for possible inclusion on your site.”
I included a very short description of the icon set, the license and a link to the set. I closed by saying “Thank You” and that was it. The response has been 100% in the affirmative (so far).
Principle Number 3: Word-of-mouth is the best Advertising
If you have something of value to offer web site visitors, and you get a few plugs from well-connected sites, word will spread fast. This is really the objective: to get as many sites and individuals talking about your site as possible.
During the 10 day period in question, SmashingMagazine.com kicked off the sudden growth in traffic by giving me good exposure. However, they were not the top referrer: Twitter was with 1,209 referrals. FaceBook also contributed about 500 referrals, Google Buzz contributed 285 and Delicious referred an additional 125 visitors. The point is, if people like your site, they will talk about it and thus drive more traffic.
Principle Number 4: Things Spoil Quickly on the Web
Things do not stay fresh long on the web. It is crucial to update your site often but your updates need to be consistently of high quality. You’re not just trying to get quantity of visitors you want quality. You only achieve quality traffic by offering quality content.
Principle Number 5: Web Users have Short Attention Spans
Building web traffic takes a lot of work and you have to stick with it. My strategy has been to try to contact 2-3 sites per day to ask them to include my icon set. I am trying to build the number of high quality incoming links to my site in a legitimate manner. I also want to keep my brand in front of web users until it sticks in their minds and they start coming directly to the site.
Principle Number 6: Timing is Everything
It is not enough to get my icons posted on high quality sites or mentioned on Twitter, FaceBook or other social networks. When the site is mentioned is as important as it being mentioned. Figuring out the best time to get mentioned is pretty easy to do. Just think about how and when you spend your own time online. In other words, when do you goof off online? If you work a day job, you, like most other people, are probably more likely to be surfing the web around the start of the day, lunch time and toward the end of the work day. I have also read from more than a few sources that between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to get mentioned on Twitter.
Principle Number 7: Make it Easy to Share
While most visitors to your site are happy to share their find, the simple fact is that they wont’ go very far out of their way to do so. The onus is on you to make is extremely simple for them to help you spread the word. To do this, add the readily-available tools to allow your visitors to share a link to your site with a single click. I have included a list of the more popular social tools at the end of this article.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, 10,000 visitors is a respectable start but it’s only a start. But by applying these principles, you can start attracting significant traffic to your site.
Social Networking Tools
This is not an exhaustive list but just a few of the tools I personally like to use. It is possible to go overboard with the social buttons. You want to make it easy for visitors to share your link but you don’t want to clutter up your site and make it unusable. Use good judgment and try to view your site from the end user’s perspective.