This is an UPDATED list of 70(ish) traffic sources for increasing your website traffic for webmasters of all experience levels. Whether you have just registered your first site and have no idea of where to get traffic from or you’re just looking for a few more sources which you haven’t thought of before, there will be something to be learned from this list.
Note that I’ve broken these up into very rough categories, so they’re not perfectly organized. Let’s get going!
Facebook – I chose to put Facebook first because not only is it a great source of traffic, but it is playing an increasingly paramount factor in determining how a web page ranks as Google and other search engines are relying more heavily on people to do their moderation and judging of content for them. You can now seamlessly integrate the Facebook “Like” button onto your blog so that when someone reads your content they can click on this button.
The idea is basically if a lot of people “Like” something, Google figures that it’s good content because a lot of people aren’t going to go to the trouble of liking something unless it’s quality content.
On Facebook itself you can also tie the RSS feed of your blog to your Facebook profile so that every move which you make is reflected on your page. More and more people are using Facebook as their primary or sole internet activity and use it in place of search engines in some cases, so you definitely need a page of your own for your business.
Remember that when someone “Likes” your Facebook page, your page’s updates become a part of their personal Facebook feed, so it’s a great way to remain connected with people.
Before you can do anything with Facebook, you need a page for your website. Check out my post on how to make a page on Facebook for everything you need to know.
Twitter – Similar to Facebook, content which is retweeted frequently is seen as being of high quality, as well. Twitter is also a great way to find people who would be interested in what you are blogging about at your site and connect with them; just go to http://search.twitter.com/ and do a search for keywords related to your niche. Follow them, they’ll follow you back most of the time, and if you tweet good content, they’ll check out your site. Simple.
Don’t tweet about your own content too often, or at least mix it up with a healthy balance of conversational tweets with other users. Check out my complete Twitter tutorial for more information on how to use Twitter to its full potential. Looking for more followers? Consider these 12 ways for how to get more followers on Twitter.
Google Plus – Google Plus is Google’s addition to the world of social networks. The same rules apply here as they do with Facebook; you should have a page on Google Plus which you can promote on that network and use to direct people back to your site. See what is Google Plus and how it will boost your rankings for more information.
LinkedIn – This is primarily a business/professional network with over 100 million users. When other people connect with you, they’ll see your updates. Create good content, get good traffic. LinkedIn groups is a good way to join in discussions with people in your niche. You can point back to your content to answer questions so it’s a great way to get targeted traffic while looking like an expert in your niche. See my overview of how to use LinkedIn for more information.
Pinterest– Pinterest is like a combination of other social networking sites and is also noteworthy for having well over 100 million visitors each month. Pinterest is a visually focused site and if your “pin” gets featured on their main site then you’ll see a lot of traffic coming from it. Additionally, if your target demographic is younger, professional women in the 21-35 crowd, this is your network in a big way as that is far and away their biggest clientele. See my post on specifically how to use Pinterest for marketing to get the most out of this social network.
There are lots of other social networking sites with new ones cropping up every day, trying to find their edge to separate them from the rest and become the next Facebook. Find one which is specifically related to your niche and start building a name for yourself. OR, failing that, why not head over to SocialGo and create your own social network. Who knows, you could have the next Facebook on your hands.
YouTube – The king of video sites when it comes to generating website traffic. It’s easier to make a viral video than a viral anything else. Remember, good content is either informative or entertaining… or both! Remember to list your website’s URL in both the description and either at the front or end of the video. Also, you can create video responses in YouTube to enjoy some runoff traffic from hugely popular but relevant videos with tons of views. Check out this post on how to make a video response in YouTube for more info.
Another tactic is to look at the tags which hugely popular videos in your niche are using, then take them and add them to your videos, thus increasing the chances that your videos will appear in the side bar for related videos in YouTube and increasing your chances to enjoy the hugest videos in your niche’s traffic runoff.
Remember to embed your videos when applicable at other sites with the capabily which you create content for, as well.
Vimeo – Vimeo used to trump YouTube’s video quality ceiling, but now YouTube allows for 1080p HD quality videos, as well, so now it’s just another notable video site to post content to.
iTunes – iTunes is a great place to post your podcasts if you do those and get some additional traffic depending on how you title your content so that some of the hundreds of millions of iTunes users can find it.
Scribd – Scribd is a site for uploading documents like PDFs for people to freely download. Like other sites, you can connect your Facebook profile to your profile here or simply be logged in via your Facebook profile. Using this information, Scribd recommends documents for you to download. Write great PDFs about your niche, fill them with links back to your site, and within the PDF encourage people to share that document as they like so long as the content is never altered and you’ll start seeing the traffic come in.
SlideShare – SlideShare is kind of like YouTube or any other video site, but the focus is on slides shows like PowerPoint presentations. Think about taking your best performing posts on your site then turning them into slide shows. You can add audio to narrate and this can be a great traffic source to rope people into checking out further content on your site. See how to use SlideShare for more information.
Wikimedia – You can upload a photo of your own which relates to your niche, then find a Wikipedia page which relates to your niche and attach your image as being related and there you have a new source of traffic.
Flickr – A lot of webmasters take photos from Flickr and post them to their sites. You can leave comments under photos, so make a quick comment and link to your post. Just make sure that you are complying with the TOS which can differ from one photo to another.
Google/Yahoo/Bing Images – Images are great for making your site and posts more aesthetically pleasing, but don’t forget to make proper use of your alt text tag when naming your images because this can be a very lucrative but oftentimes overlooked source of website traffic within the major search engines which use the alt text tag to identify what your image is.
When I was doing a complete Google Analytics review of all of my sites recently, I found that almost 2% of the traffic which I received for one of my sites came as referrals from Google’s image results. Considering that it likely takes me 5 seconds to include the alt text tag, it’s important not to neglect this traffic source. Check out my post on Google image ranking to get your image to the top of Google.
Paid Advertising Traffic Sources
Facebook Ads – Facebook ads is a great advertising platform to utilize for your blog. I recently wrote an entire post on my own personal Facebook advertising strategy with a lot of tips for getting started with Facebook ads and getting the lowest CPC.
Adwords – Adwords has always been one of the best ways for getting immediate targeted traffic to your site. You can get $75 in free credits for use with Adwords just for signing up which will help you get started. The help section for Adwords is the best authority for learning when it comes to Adwords. Some people debate about whether to use Facebook ads or Adwords. I use them both myself because they both target very different but powerful networks. Check out my complete Google Adwords tips tutorial on how to get the most out of Adwords while paying the least to get it.
Bing/Yahoo/MSN Search Marketing – Same stuff, different networks.
Site Advertising – Don’t forget about site advertising. Contact the webmasters of popular and influential sites within and around your niche and see what kind of rates they offer for advertising, then give em your best banner, button, etc.
Affiliates! – A lot of people forget about this one, but for many webmasters getting affiliates to promote their sites is completely applicable. If you have any kind of product which you are selling then this is definitely for you. Even if you’re just looking to send some traffic to a squeeze page and bolster your email list; get in touch with some CPA/CPL networks, list your offer/iron out the details, and get some affiliates working for you to promote whatever you have got. My articles on how to get affiliates and how to screen affiliates apply here.
Your Own List – You can use an email service like Aweber to build and maintain your email list, create an autoresponder, and develop a relationship with your subscribers, promote your site/product/s ervice, and make money at the same time. It’s only $1 to sign up with a full access one month trial, as well, so don’t put it off any longer. Check out my post on Email Marketing 101 to learn everything there is to know about email marketing for more details.
HOWEVER, I realize that I technically can’t count that as a NEW traffic source because your subscribers have already been to your site at some point to sign up for your list in the first place. It’s still a great way to remain in touch with your subscribers and increase the traffic which does come to your site even if it’s not unique/new, so I still count it as a source for website traffic; but let’s look at how else we can use the concept of email marketing to bring in high quality traffic.
Ad Swaps – Ad swaps are great if you have an existing list with a respectable number of subscribers. How it works is you and another webmaster in a relevant niche with an email list of comparable size to yours both send out an email to their list to advertise something of the other person’s. A good way to take advantage of this is to set up a squeeze page with a free offer or incentive and then have that other webmaster direct their list towards that squeeze page.
Their entire list gets the link to your squeeze page, and with the right motivation you AND the other webmaster can each seriously pump up your respective lists and bring in swarms of targeted traffic to your respective sites.
Solo Emails – Solo emails refers to paying someone else with a large existing subscriber list in your niche to blast one email which you have written to all of their subscribers.
Your objective could be to sell a new product which you just launched which is related to your niche or it could be as simple as getting traffic back to your site in hopes of turning that traffic into regular visitors or even subscribers of your list. You could just send them to the same squeeze page I detailed in the ad swap, as well. By monetizing your site and or email list, you can more than make back whatever you spent on your solo email while getting some valuable subscribers at the same time. Learn more about the difference between solo mailings and ad swaps here.
Blogs and Forums
Blog Commenting – Most of us are familiar with blog commenting, but it’s still a good technique when used properly. This means leaving insightful and genuinely good blog comments comments which will stand out from the rest and intrigue people/move them to check out your content.
You can also answer questions which other comment leavers have. In doing this you’re taking charge of that webmaster’s comment thread, and that looks pretty sexy. Do a Google search for blogs related to your niche and get commenting.
Trackbacks – Trackbacks are how blogs communicate with each other when one blog links to another’s content. It’s a great way to generate traffic and network with other webmasters. Once that link is made, the linked to post generates a trackback which generally appears in its comments section, so anyone who reads the linked to post can see that trackback and follow it back to your post for more info on that topic.
Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is a great way to get yourself in front of a brand new audience in your niche or a similar niche. If the blog owner whom you post on likes your content, they’ll likely invite you back to post again and again. You can also just swap audiences with another blogger by taking turns writing posts on each other’s blogs.
Try contacting a smaller and up and coming blog to guest post if the larger and more established ones won’t give you the time of day. Who knows, you might write your ticket for regularly guest posting for the next hit blog.
Here’s a guest blogging tutorial for how to approach and contact other webmasters about guest blogging.
Round Up – A round up is just a webmaster’s calling out and highlighting what they have found to be worthwhile content on other blogs. A lot of webmasters do this once a week to share any especially great content which they have found in that time with their readers. It’s a selfless and good thing to do.
If you’ve written an especially great post which you’re proud of and think that another blogger specifically would enjoy then don’t hesitate to contact them about it. Even if they don’t share your post with anyone else, they may enjoy what you’ve written and use this opportunity to invite you to do a guest post for them.
Forum Posting – Forums are THE original social sites and are still pretty popular and abundant. You can connect with other people in your very specific niche, respond to questions from others with conveniently placed links with information back on your site, and put links in your signature and forum profile.
You might not get link juice from these links, but it can be a nice source of traffic if you prove yourself to be someone worth listening to. You can make a name for yourself by giving great replies to existing questions/threads, but you can make a huge splash early on by creating a very insightful and intelligent thread of your own. Just do a Google search for your niche + forums/message boards.
Digg – A lot of people don’t find success with Digg.com simply because they neglect the “social” in social bookmarking and instead just submit a stream of their own content, sometimes automatically through an auto poster as opposed to actually ever visiting the site. Digg other people’s content and they’ll return the favor to you.
StumbleUpon – Again, the more active which you are, the better your content will be received. The internet is all about “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.
Reddit – I’ve found quirkier and lighter content does well at Reddit. If you’ve got images or video to share, even better.
Delicious, Amplify, Google/Yahoo Buzz – More social bookmarking sites worth your time which reward you for participating in the community. Share other people’s content and participate in discussions and comments (this can be fun believe it or not). Do that in combination with creating and submitting content which is easily shared, so make it informative or entertaining, and you’ll be in good shape.
Serpd.com, BlogEngage.com, BizSugar.com – These are all good social bookmarking type sites for sharing your content with other bloggers and webmasters, so it’s a different dynamic than sharing your content with “civilians”. It’s great for networking with other webmasters and you can vote on your favorite blog posts, not too unlike other social bookmarking sites, but the traffic you’ll get from these sites can be pretty targeted, depending on your niche.
Article Directories/Answer Sites
Ezine, Articlesbase, Buzzle, etc. – Sure article directories were hit pretty hard thanks to the latest Google (farmer) update; and despite their efforts to require higher quality from their authors, they’ll likely never have the same relevance to or impact on search engines as they once did. That being said they’re still good and easy for getting some traffic and some link juice, particularly from article syndication. I give a good overview on how to get the most out of all of these article directories in my article writing tips series, starting with how to write a great title.
High Profile Content Syndication – While Ezine Articles and directories of the like are meant for every subject matter, you can do better these days by submitting your same content to the top websites and blogs which specifically cater to your niche. You can think of this like a marriage of guest blogging and article marketing. Because everyone’s niche is going to differ, you have to find your own authority sites to submit to.
Squidoo and Hubpages – These two will always be inextricably tied together in everyone’s minds. I don’t spend much time on them as they too have lost a lot of their relevance and I can’t ever think of many times when I searched for something and either site came up at the top, but you can still use them at least to house a page about your site and link to some of your most attractively titled posts. I think Squidoo is still dofollow in some cases, though don’t hold me to that.
Ehow and About.com – Two sites which were definitely targeted by Google’s Content Farm update but which can still be used to get some traffic. If your niche has any problems which can be solved in a “how to do this or that” fashion then you can do that here.
Yahoo Answers, Vark.com, Help.com, Answerbag.com, Fluther.com, Google Answers, Quora.com, Wiki Answers, BlurtIt.com – There are a lot of sites out there where people can ask questions and expect fast answers if they can’t find the answer elsewhere. Some people don’t even bother using search engines for answers and just go to one of these sites to ask their questions.
The point is you can use these Q and A sites to step in, search, find, and answer questions relating to your niche. You can conveniently link back to your content for the complete explanation, thus getting some traffic and looking like an authoritative hotshot all at once. Some of them will even bring in some link juice if you’re after that, as well.
Yahoo Groups – You can create your own groups or join others and participate in discussions, answer questions.
SEO – I feel like this goes without saying and I wasn’t even going to include it in the list, but it is a valuable traffic source of mine and everyone else’s, so here it is. While the plan for SEO can vary from year to year or even day to day, traditional search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing will continue to be how the majority of internet users find the content which they are looking for, at least for the near future.
Perform good ON and OFF site search engine optimization to get your site listed at the top spot of the SERPs and enjoy the estimated 40% of the traffic of everyone who searches for your keyword. Think about using a free tool like Market Samurai to do your keyword research or to even let you know if you have a shot at ranking for a particular keyword before you put in the time to it. I write so much about SEO on this site that it’d be difficult to pin down one article to refer you to other than pointing you to my free eBook on online marketing which covers most of what to know about SEO all at once, so refer to my SEO category on this site to see the latest relevant posts and articles on search engine optimization.
On Site Traffic – Another “traffic source” which should go without saying, but because so many people overlook this I felt that I should mention it. Make sure that you optimize your site in such a way so that the traffic which comes to your site stays there.
Having good content is a big step number one, but from there think about linking to similar posts to encourage your traffic to explore your site. If you run WordPress, there are “related post” type plugins which will include links to additional posts of yours on similar keywords/subjects at the end of your posts. Also link to relevant posts within your posts if possible as this is a positive way of passing internal link juice around your site.
Good quality content + making it easy for your visitors to find = the more quality content which your visitors find on your site and thus the more likely that they’ll keep that in mind and return to your site in the future.
Ebay and Amazon – Ebay and Amazon can be great sources of targeted website traffic as well as income. You can sell eBooks and books about your niche which you have written on Ebay and Amazon, respectively, and even if someone doesn’t purchase your book, they’ll likely check out your website (which you can mention in your bio) to learn more about you and get more of an idea to see if you know what you’re talking about. Just by the virtue of your having written a book in the first place gives you a lot of credibility on a subject and will likely convince them to check out your site.
They may sign up for your mailing list as a free alternative to purchasing something from you depending on how your list is set up and advertised. At the same time, after they’ve checked out your site/credentials to see that you do in fact know what you’re talking about they may go ahead and purchase your book after all.
Craigslist – Craigslist does have rules about spamming to an extent but you should be able to get creative and think of a way to advertise here regardless of your niche so long as you locate the best category and section of the site to do it. Check out my tips for advertising on Craigslist with how to post to Craigslist to get more attention to your ads. Additionally, here are 5 Craigslist Alternatives, so there’s 5 more potentially valuable traffic sources right there.
Press Releases – Press release sites are great to use to make the world aware of your new site or content and create excitement and a buzz about it. You put together a kind of bio/announcement for your new site or content and then take it to one of these sites to put the word out in a very official manner and see a surge in traffic. NPR, BetaNews, PR.com are just a few examples of free press release sites, but there are hundreds of other notable ones if you search around a bit. Here are 10 press release tips to bear in mind and a link to my own press release example.
Content Aggregators – This is more if you already have a large and established site which gets lots of traffic and are looking for some more, but sites like AllTop.com and 9Rules aggregate content from leading blogs and sites around the Internet, and getting your site listed on either of these or similar content aggregating sites can create a huge boost of traffic for you.
Groupon/Living Social – These are two great sites to take advantage of if you have some kind of commodity which you sell through your site or if you have a local business. If your business is listed as the featured daily deal, be prepared to see HUGE floods of traffic coming in literally overnight.
SuperCoolCoupons, Coupon Cabin, Ultimate Coupons – These are other examples of similar coupon sites but which don’t take into account location as Groupon and Living Social do.
Run a Contest – Running a contest is a great way to amp up your traffic and cover all of your bases. You can use a contest to increase your Twitter following, Facebook “Like” total, email list subscriber total, and everyday visitors to your site total; really you can use it to leverage anything you want.
First thing’s first, you have to have something cool to give away as the prize. This prize should relate to your niche; for example if you’re in the tech niche then give away the latest gadget from Apple. You may spend some money, but it’s worth it for the traffic and again if your site or list are monetized you’ll make that cost back many times over.
The criteria for entering the contest should be both requiring people to sign up for your various social media sites and then spreading the word about your contest. Get your site’s existing traffic, subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. to share, post, tweet, you name it about your contest.
You can randomly give out the prize or prizes to anyone who fulfills this criteria, or you can make it a point to give out the prize to the absolute best tweet or post about your site; thus giving people motivation to put more time and effort into how they promote you.
Do a few contests through the year and you’ll even get a few people checking into your site from time to time just to find out the news on your latest contest.
Buying Websites – Buying well performing existing websites related to your niche is a good way to bring some extra website traffic in. You can develop that site in combination with your site, or just burn it to the ground and rebuild a squeeze page in its place to advertise for your existing site and absolutely explode your email list. Check out my complete guide to buying and selling sites for more information.
Offline Traffic Sources
Of course you’re not limited to the internet; offline traffic sources still exists and you can get really creative here. If someone visits your site after seeing an offline advertisement, it’s more of a commitment on their part as opposed to just clicking on a link while browsing the net.
It’s my thinking that because it requires more effort to go to your computer and check out a site after hearing about it offline, generally these people are much more motivated to really listen what you have to say. You’ll also likely see a much healthier/lower percentage of bounces from your site from these people.
You can do offline paid advertising in printed magazines or newspapers, purchase an ad to show at local or not so local movie theaters to be shown before the previews, or you can even film and run a local television commercial. You’d be surprised at how affordable some of these methods are.
If you’re looking for a more inexpensive route, giving away freebies with your logo on it or whatever you offer on your blog, handing out flyers, or flyering around places which relate to your niche in the real world or even just wherever you travel are all great inexpensive ways to get the word out about your site.
Vistaprint – Vistaprint is a fantastic online store for creating professional merchandise for your branding and for dirt cheap at that. I had the idea to purchase professional business cards for ConvertingCopy and leave them at local businesses wherever I traveled whether that meant giving them to the business owner personally or just leaving it on their local bulletin board.
When I say cheap, I mean I spent $4 for 250 professional glossy cards with a great design and got literally thousands of new visitors to my site after distributing them wherever I went. If you have any kind of monetization going on on your site or newsletter then we’re talking about an ROI of thousands if not millions of times over. Every few days I’ll still get a message from a new subscriber on my newsletter who said that they found my site from one of my business cards.
Of course Vistaprint isn’t limited to business cards. You can get pens, signs, stickers, coffee mugs, t-shirts, banners, calendars; really anything you can think of with your professional branding on it which you can easily design yourself in a couple of minutes using their templates.
In summation, there are lots of ways to generate website traffic. Some of these will undoubtedly perform better than others depending on your niche/audience, so take some time experimenting with each of them.
If you have anything which I left out, why not leave it in the replies.