I don’t know anything about traffic. Or marketing even, really. My site gets six visitors a day, and most of those seem to be driven by Google searches for “reasons for not picking up the phone” and “best painkiller for broken bones”. (Apparently I am the internet’s foremost expert on hating the telephone. Not sure about painkillers.)
Here’s the thing I do know: traffic shouldn’t be your primary goal. Traffic, on its own, doesn’t really mean anything.
More traffic does not equal more engagement.
More traffic does not equal more conversions.
More traffic does not equal more people reading your blog.
More traffic does not equal more customers.
Traffic is a lovely thing to track because it’s easy to measure and seeing a spike in a graphic is a fantastic endorphin hit. Focus first on crafting quality content, and the visits will come.
That said, the most fabulous content in the world isn’t worth anything if people don’t know how to find it. So you may be tempted by some of the seedier side of online marketing.
Since there are 40-odd posts here already outlining all the different good ways you can drive traffic to your blog, I thought I’d try to identify some of the techniques that you might want to steer clear of. These might seem effective, but they feel dishonest and scummy, which isn’t likely to be the best tactic in the long run.
1. Share on social media repeatedly.
People’s social media feeds are noisy, messy places, filled with the sounds of people endlessly promoting themselves. To stand out, it’s best to share your post multiple times to each social media stream. Otherwise, people might miss it
And make sure to use every hashtag you can think of that’s even vaguely relevant. #blessed #geniusideas #catvideos #instagram #petsoninstagram #catsoninstagram #catvideosoninstagram #kittensoninstagram #etc
2. Write buzzier headlines.
Ask anyone at Buzzfeed—your post title is super important. Probably more important than your post content itself. Make sure to always include a number in the title, since our brains think this is candy and we can’t help but clicking through. Plus, listicles are super easy to structure. (Note: this post is a listicle, but mostly because I’m lazy.)
My favourite suggestion for this very post: “5 reasons traffic is the new HTML”. (Number four will blow your mind!)
3. Up your SEO game by adding a bunch of “invisible links” at the bottom of every page.
Again, you should use the same approach as your hashtags—just use every vaguely related word you can possibly think of.
I’m told that Google loves these!
Actually, no. Google has been penalising sites that use this technique (known as “content cloaking“) for ages, but people are still trying to find ways around this.
4. Post your link everywhere you possibly can.
Reddit subforms? Check! Facebook groups? Check! Don’t forget to post your link in the comment sections of influencer blogs too. Remember, it’s not spam if you’re a human manually posting all the links!
5. If all else fails, buy some traffic.
For £3.75 you can purchase “unlimited” traffic (actually 100 visits/day for a month, which technically would exceed our target of 1k hits) from a reputable site like fiver.com, leaving us enough money in the $20 budget to go out for a celebratory glass of Prosecco. You could also pay a bit more to get visitors only from “top European countries”. Other websites offer to send 10k visits, targeted by a particular niche, for $12. I didn’t try these out myself to see how well they work, but I’m not sure they’re likely to lead to a lot of increased engagement. (But I’m happy to be proven wrong!)
Ultimately, remember that traffic is nice, but it isn’t the end goal in and of itself, and it isn’t the only metric of success. Start with a great website, and see where things go from there.