Back in 1997, Yahoo was the king “search engine”. Actually more of a directory… but today that directory is no more. It was wonderful to be in the Yahoo directory without much competition, it is what made our business at the time take off to unimaginable heights.
Back in 1997, free for all links were great. People wanted to discover new sites and they would click on all kinds of links.
In 2016, not so much. People in the United States are much more social users of the internet. People in other countries are still in discovery mode, but the US is tired of exploring. We like what we like, no need to venture off.
With all that is different today, how does a new website get discovered, visited, and become popular? Let us first take a look at the top 5 websites in the world, as organized by Alexa:
- Google – The most popular search engine
- Facebook – The most popular social network
- Youtube – A social network of videos
- Baidu – A Chinese Search Engine
- Yahoo – Mostly media, games, and email these days
The best thing you can do today to get traffic is to shoot for the top 3 above. How do you do that?
It is easy enough to get listed on Google (add link here) but getting a lot of traffic from Google is kind of a trick, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Is there a simple way to explain SEO? Generally, Google goes out and look at your website pages and tries to figure out what is on them based on the text on the page. That is part 1. If you have 10 of a word on your page, chances are that Google will think that is relevant. However, padding your site with many occurrences of a word will probably not do so well for that word, as Google checks for cheating tactics.
Part 2 of SEO is inbound links and social shares. So if your website is linked to a lot from other websites, chances are you will get a little more recognized by Google. Natural links are best but exchanging links or placing links on other popular websites can help.
We are still talking about Google, but you can see that having a social network presence, especially a public presence on Facebook (because it is #2 on Alexa), can really help you rank with Google. So even before we talk about all the traffic you can get from Facebook, note that you can get more traffic from Google simply by having a Facebook site that includes links to your website.
Obviously Facebook is the most popular social network (based on their Alexa ranking), and you use it for one of two reasons, or possibly both:
- Get traffic from Facebook
- Get more traffic from Google by increasing your Google ranking with inbound links.
In both cases, you will want a public rather than a private profile. A private profile is not indexed by Google and is not visible to the outside world, only within your group of friends. If you have a private profile, you can create a public business page. I have been using Facebook for a long time so my profile has always been private… but we added the business page a couple of years ago and made it public for traffic building.
If your strategy is to get traffic from Facebook, you will want to include more links. Each post, or every few posts, should include a link to your website. Over time you will get more and more traffic this way. You will also get traffic from any links you include with your profile, though not as much.
If your goal is to get more traffic from Google from participating on Facebook, which is really my strategy, you do not really need to include links to your websites in your posts. The links on your profile will do, you just need to consistently participate on Facebook. You post every once in a while, you like other posts, you share other posts, you post blog stories from others, etc. Just participate.
Participating on other social networks is similar. For instance, Youtube allows you to post a link to your website as part of your profile. You can include links on video or text posts or not, you can like and share other videos, etc. The more inbound links to your Youtube profile, the more clout that link to your website will get, the more your Google Ranking will increase. So it is extremely important to participate on Youtube or your social network of choice, not just sign up and leave it, regardless of your strategy.
Let us look down the Alexa rankings at other social networks:
There may be other social network sites in the top 100 but these are the ones I am most familiar with. Any one of these can be a good choice to participate on, but note that there may be significant traffic differences between them.
Also understand that participating on a social network can be a serious time drain, so participating on 1 or 2 rather than 10 is probably a good idea. In fact, participating on a single social network rather than even 2 can make you an expert at participating on that social network and make your efforts far more significant for traffic generation.
Other websites for inbound links
In the top 5 websites above, we still have Yahoo… but Yahoo no longer has a directory, they are mostly a media site. However, they do have Yahoo Answers, which is kind of a social network. I have not used Yahoo Answers but I believe that some people use it for building inbound links… Let me know if you have used Yahoo Answers and if it is good for building inbound links in any way.
There are other strategies beyond using social networks that you can use:
However, nothing will be as good for traffic generation as participating on social media because of the sheer traffic available and the rank of social media sites to Google.
Amount of time
To build organic traffic it does take time. Please do not expect that your site will be extremely popular overnight from your efforts, just keep working at it.