You guys know I love Darren Rowse and the whole Problogger community (in fact, I still owe him that fruit basket for all the work I’ve found on his Jobs board…). But I’m going to disagree with him on something today – the idea that you shouldn’t target fast traffic for a blog or a niche site.
In a past interview on his site, Darren recommends the following when it comes to quickly generating traffic for a new site:
“Forget the word ‘fast’. Really – forget it. You can probably use some techniques to get fast traffic but a more profitable strategy over the long haul is to build a blog that people become loyal to and proud to belong to over the long haul.”
Of course I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be working on developing the kind of brilliant content that will sustain your site for years and years – just that courting fast traffic has its place as well.
On Thursday, I introduced you to the site that I’m going to be re-working as part of my Conversion Rates Case Study. One of the biggest challenges I’m facing with the site is that it doesn’t get much traffic, and no traffic means that I can’t quickly split-test elements of the site to improve its performance since it’s not getting enough eyeballs to validate my tests. Basically, I need traffic, and I need it now!
Whether you need additional visitors in order to rapidly improve your conversion rates or you simply want to see your traffic numbers go up to justify the time you’ve invested into your site, there are certainly situations where it makes sense to pursue fast traffic.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising – In general, I prefer to build up traffic to a site through search engine optimization (SEO) and social networking (whether through blog commenting, forum commenting or social bookmarking). This traffic is free and its sustainable, which makes it ideal for my strategy of scaling up affiliate niche minisites over the long run.
But at the same time, this strategy runs into the problem I described above. Getting ranked for good keywords and getting noticed in the crowded social media space takes time, and when I want to quickly determine whether or not the changes I’m making to a site are successful, time is the one thing I don’t have. This is where PPC comes in.
Now, I’m not a Google Adwords expert. In fact, I’m probably the opposite of the person you should be taking advice from on this issue, as the most I’ve ever managed to achieve with that program is to blow through hundreds and hundreds of dollars… But what has worked for me in the past is 7Search. It’s a second-tier search engine, which means that it doesn’t get as much traffic as the big dogs, but it’s much, much cheaper than posting ads to Google’s PPC program.
There are several of these second-tier PPC providers, but after testing them all I’ve found that 7Search provides the highest quality visitors. I’ve also found that targeting long tail keywords on this service is pretty much useless, so my campaigns on this site are usually pretty narrow in scope. For now, I’m planning to commit $5-10/week to a small campaign on this site to see if it can help bring a little extra traffic my way.
Blog Commenting – It’s not exactly a secret that I love blog commenting, but one of my favorite parts about this technique is that it can be used to get traffic fast. There’s no waiting around for a target keyword to get ranked in the SERPs – just post a comment with a link back to your site and people will take notice.
Of course, there’s a lot of variation in the blog world, so in order to get the fastest possible traffic from this technique (instead of having my comments languish unseen at the bottom of some no-name blog), I’ll be following a few guidelines:
• Only target high traffic blogs – I’ll be using Market Samurai to identify the most popular blogs in my niche, based on estimated traffic, Alexa score and other variables. This will ensure that as many people as possible see my comments.
• Only comment on recent posts – Sometimes, searching for blogs in my niche on Google will turn up relevant, interesting posts… that are three years old. Instead of commenting on these older posts, I’ll add the site to my RSS feed and only comment when new posts go up to ensure that my link is seen by as much of the site’s readership as possible.
• Leave exceedingly helpful comments – I haven’t worked with blog commenting in the self-help/skin care niche before, and I know I’m at a disadvantage that my links will be pointing directly at a sales page. So to build trust with both the site owners and readers, I plan to leave incredibly helpful comments without any hint of a sales message in the text.
As a variation of this technique, I’ll also be targeting Yahoo Answers for traffic. I’ve used this site with great results in the past in the self-help niche, and I’m confident that it’ll help send some quick traffic my way.
Basically, succeeding here requires following a similar set of principles as described above – look for open questions, provide helpful information and include a link back to your site as a resource. However, there are a few other tricks I’ve picked up from using this service that you might find helpful if you plan to pursue it as well:
• Set up a separate Yahoo account to answer questions – No matter how helpful you are, you’re going to get reported for breaking the rules and the last thing you want is to have your main account shut down because of it.
• Completely fill out your profile – Go through and build an avatar, fill out your personal information and provide whatever other details you can. Readers are more likely to trust responses from more complete profiles.
• Limit the number of links you include – For every five questions I’ll answer, I’ll only post a link back to my site in 2-3 of my responses. Although it won’t totally eliminate spam complaints, it’ll minimize the number of infractions you have to deal with.
I should point out that promoting your own site through this service technically violates the TOS of the Yahoo Answers community, so use this technique at your own risk. Personally, I feel that if I provide the kind of helpful, authoritative information a person is looking for in my response, whatever I choose to link to as a resource should be my own business.
(Besides, considering the caliber of answers that come from the legitimate community members, I believe that anything that helps to generate better quality answers (even if it’s allowing a personal link as a resource) should be encouraged!)
Social Bookmarking – In the past, I’ve had trouble understanding the power of social bookmarking, because it’s incredibly difficult to get noticed amongst all the competition in this space. However, since Stumbleupon is currently blowing up this site to the tune of 30K+ visits per month, I’m a little more open to investing time in submitting social bookmarks…
Obviously, it’s not something I’m going to put a ton of time into, especially since I’m not planning on writing any of the real linkbait quality posts that usually get noticed on these sites. However, since it only takes a few minutes to submit my main site and any subsequent blog posts to social bookmarking sites using tools like Onlywire or Ping.fm, I do plan on incorporating this strategy into my traffic plans for this case study.
So these are my plans, but I’d love to hear your ideas as well. If you had 30 days to bring in as much traffic as possible to this (or any other) site, what would you do first?