The main idea here is that you will be actively searching where your prospects are gathering. You’ll go to them and not the other way around. You’ll research your market and find those virtual places where people have that need that your product or service solves, and you’ll be helping them to solve those needs, for free.
In return, you’ll see that your authority grows, your traffic follows, your subscribers are far more engaged with your emails and you sell a lot more with less effort. So basically you put the effort first and reap the benefits later. This is how you promote your brand in an ethical, long-lasting, long-term centered way.
Finally, let’s see what these traffic sources are:
1. Discussion boards and forums
Forums and discussion boards are a gold mine. In one website you can find A LOT of people discussing those topics that they are more passionate about. In fact, some forums and forums members are plain fanatics of a certain topic or niche. Think about motorbikes, survival, model trains, trail running, and all of those interests people have.
That’s exactly where you and your brand want to be. Discussion forums are a great way of helping people out, building your authority and having some sort of call to action, in your profile or signature for example. This technique is so powerful that I’ve launched entire websites, products, and services solely on this strategy.
What you want to do is to research some forums using Google advanced queries (as you can see in this guide) and then register an account. Your profile should be top notch, correctly branded, linked to other social profiles of yours, and include your bio. I’ve seen that people relate more to personal accounts than branded or company accounts. So use your face and name whenever possible.
Once you’ve registered your account, introduce yourself and start helping out people on those threads that you can actually participate. If you’re feeling inspired as well, you can write “The Ultimate Guide for XYZ.” This can have a huge impact on your business because those guides are truly appreciated by the forum members. Be respectful, though, do not try to “siphon” people back on your website, or you’ll be banned.
2. Communities and groups
In the same line with forums, there are communities and groups that you can leverage to grow your authority, your traffic, and your audience. On this case, you’ll be using the traffic that a platform already has (like Google Plus Communities, Facebook Groups, and LinkedIn Groups), to leverage and bring traffic to your site.
The technique still stands. Be helpful, participate, and build relationships with the group owners and prominent members. This should be fun after all! I’ve also found that exclusive deals, content, and articles work amazingly well. If you’re on Facebook, for example, being active in a big group can get you a ton of new friend requests. The same happens with Google Plus and LinkedIn.
As well as with forums, admins, moderators, and members are protective of their platforms. And most of the time they are tired of fighting off spam. So if they are suspicious that you have some sort of “hidden agenda,” you will get the boot. Grow your profile, be honest, and share your knowledge and traffic will come.
3. Blog comments
This is still a super powerful way of bringing tons of targeted traffic to your site. However, I see many SEO professionals and marketers who don’t use this because of the fear of a “Google slap.” Truth is that comments, when done massively and automatically, can become a headache and Google doesn’t like this. But I’m talking about insightful comments on relevant blogs here, not the usual automated jargon you can see yourself moderating if you have a blog (WordPress mostly).
In order to find great blogs to comment on, I just follow influential people on social media and drop a couple of paragraphs with insights, advice, and praise on their posts. You can also use something like Alltop.com or Buzzsumo.com in order to find the hottest blogs in your niche. Remember to be respectful of the author and the audience of that blog—help first, sell later.
Most of the comments platforms will allow you to leave a link as part of your profile. Use this to send traffic back to a related article, or even to a lead magnet on your website.
4. Guest posting and outreach
Many marketers don’t like doing guest posting because it takes a lot of work. Not only do you need to pitch the blog owner on the possibility of being featured there, but then you actually need to write the thing, get it approved, edit it, etc. And some people are not friends with the written word. However, the results in terms of traffic, authority, and relationships are priceless.
And, see that I also mention “Outreach” on this particular technique? It doesn’t have to be written guest posting—you can add value to someone else’s blog in many ways. Can you make a quick video or record a podcast episode? Can you make infographics for the blog? Can you curate some of the current news and add your insight? Can you make a live broadcast with the blog owner?
I like approaching a potential collaboration as a win-win situation. This is also a means of building long-term relationships. I usually go for blogs that not only have big traffic but also that I care about the brand, the owner and the product (like Infusionsoft, which I’ve been using for ages!). Plus I like keeping in touch with the authors of such blogs as well. Some of the best collaborations and joint ventures have come out of these contacts.
Make sure that your post, video, podcast, or infographic is top notch. Some marketers will tell you that their best content is not on their own websites but on third party ones. This is an intelligent strategy, and combined with some retargeting and lead capture techniques, it can grow your base of subscribers like no other. Plus, you can use those juicy logos (with due permission of course) on your “as seen in” profile.
5. Press releases
Press releases are one of the most underused traffic generation strategies. Every time I’ve submitted a press release for syndication, I’ve gotten a spike in traffic, subscribers, and sales. Press releases are good for SEO too since you can get a lot of branded backlinks from authority sources in no time. And while this is not entirely free, I didn’t want to keep this out of the guide because it can be a powerful (and inexpensive) solution to get traffic.