Creating a website that encourages people to buy into your business is only half the job.
We’ve talked previously about creating strong calls to action, which encourage visitors to your website to take an action that makes sense for your business.
Where does traffic come from? How do people get to your website?
Broadly speaking, there are four ways your website receives traffic:
- People typing the address into their browser, or using a bookmark to visit the site (known as Direct traffic)
- People clicking on links to the site, which exist in other websites (known as Referral traffic)
- Visitors entering through the results on a search in engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others (known as Organic Search)
- Visitors being referred to your website by way of advertisements in various networks, such as search engines or websites using AdSense (often described as Paid Search), ads within Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks (which may be recorded either as Paid or Referral traffic).
While some auditing tools track these categories differently – Google Analytics, for example, separates referrals from websites in general into a different category than traffic referred by social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. While this helps website administrators target their traffic generation efforts more precisely, the four broad categories above still matter when we’re considering what kind of actions to take in order to generate traffic for a website.
Just like with brick-and-mortar shops, your website needs traffic to realize its potential as a business tool.
Generating some kinds of traffic is definitely more straightforward than gaining others. This isn’t to say that some kinds of visitors are easier to acquire – effort’s still needed, no matter where the visitors come from – but the strategies used differ widely.
Direct traffic, for example, can only be created certain ways. Somehow, people need to know the address of your website – you need to get that address into their hands, then make it worthwhile for them to make the effort of typing it in. Listing it in a phone book, as part of a printed advertisement, on your business cards, or (and this usually only works if the address is easy to remember) mentioning your website in conversation are some of the most common ways.
Referral traffic works in much the same manner. Somehow – whether it’s through a product review, a post on a website’s forum or blog comment section, or a professional affiliation wherein your partners’ websites list recommended vendors and complementary businesses – your visitors have come to your website by way of a link placed on someone else’s website.
Organic Search traffic is the point of focus for most website administrators – and for good reason. Search engines respond to actual user needs; they try to present the best answer to any query a user enters. As such, appearing within the first few results on a given search engine is a meaningful endorsement from these increasingly important websites. It can be seen as a sign that your business is of better quality, and of more likely to solve the needs of the searching party, than others. How to get to the top of these results is a much more complex task than we’ve got space for here, so we’ll discuss this another time.
Paid Search is another deceptively complex method of gaining traffic. The best two examples of this service are
- Google’s AdWords program – a system where your advertisement is matched with search queries or appropriate websites displaying Google’s ads, and shown in response to the searches users conduct. For example, an insurance company or realtor advertising on terms related to their businesses can generate traffic quickly and easily with the right keyword targeting.
- Facebook advertising, rather than targeting searches, displays ads based on their expressed views and preferences. This works very well for a lot of businesses who provide consumer goods, media, and other optional purchases.
These advertisements are an investment, but can create a significant volume of business when managed well over a period of time.
Every channel is different – what works on organic search may not work in social media.
Like optimizing a website for search, making use of social channels – the more recent, fifth category of traffic generation – has its own rules and common practices, most of which are unspoken or at best unofficial. This applies as much to Facebook and Twitter, as it does to industry forums, comment sections in blogs of any size, and anywhere else users can interact with a website and add information.
By and large, in search and advertising, the quality of your website is the defining factor in your success deriving traffic from the channel. These systems use large sums of information to form an opinion on your site’s merit, and display it accordingly – in ways, and using information largely out of your hands.
On any social channel, however, the merit of your each and every word is considered directly by the people reading the content. Sell too hard and you’ll see backlash – don’t sell at all and you’re wasting your time. This is why referral traffic – especially from these social networks – is seen as a much more involved process than most other web traffic generation methods.
Rather than being a technical function, creating social and referral traffic requires human networking abilities, much like gaining the right opportunity to justify handing out a business card at a conference to generate direct traffic.
How, then, do we turn all this web traffic into business value?
We’ve spoken about that before – the importance of directing website traffic through the appropriate calls-to-action, and designing your website around desired user actions. Even when you’ve given the search engines, social networks, and other websites a strong understanding of the value of your website and business, it’s still important to make sure the visitors coming to you know what they should be doing as quickly as possible.
After all, a website visitor is only really of value to your business if they take a desired action (by making a purchase or getting in touch with your sales representatives). Otherwise, they’re just looking, and that’s only half the job.
How do you drive traffic to your website? Feel free to leave a comment below, or get in touch with us through our contact page.
Source: Hello BLOG