Driving traffic is hard. Really hard.
It’s disheartening to see a flat line on your analytics, despite all your hard-work.
There is a solution: content. Publishing exciting, informative, and compelling content drives thousands of visitors to your site. It works for ecommerce store owners, bloggers, and pretty much any other business you can imagine.
Your readers will share great content, and help you reach the furthest corners of the internet. With every new blog, video, or infographic, you’ll capture new leads, and send them back to your website.
There are three golden rules to an effective strategy, and we’re breaking it down into chunks today:
There’s a lot of content out there, so it’s going to take something special to stand out. You need to come up with unique and powerful content. But, how on earth do you keep coming up with solid ideas?
Let’s say you’re starting with a completely blank slate. You’ve got a brand new website, but don’t know what content to create. Enter Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo shows you the most popular content in any given category. (In this case, ‘burgers in New York’. You could search anything from ‘social media marketing’ to ‘real estate’.) As you can see, the best content is simple and direct: a list of the best burgers in New York.
If you’ve got existing content on your site, you can use Buzzsumo to search your own website. It will bring up your most popular pieces of content on social media.
The advice here is simple. Figure out what works, and recreate it yourself. Do more of what works.
What if you’ve been creating content for months with little return? Something isn’t working, but you’ve got to highlight the problem.
That’s where Google Analytics comes in very handy. Dive into your Analytics account, and head to ‘behaviour > site content”.
Here, you can drill down into every single blog or piece of content you’ve posted. It will show you which got the most traffic, the longest time-on-site, and the lowest bounce rate.
Look for patterns in your most popular content. What was the topic of the content? What was the format? What it a blog, infographic or video? Did it have a strong title?
Figure out why that content worked, and do lots more of it! Likewise ditch all the formats and topics that aren’t pulling in traffic. It’s a waste of your time.
The easiest way to come up with timely, relevant content is by looking at the world around you.
For me, one of the most important events in the startup calendar is the TechCrunch conference. So, I created a timely piece of content about it. You can do the same in any industry.
Let’s say you run a sports company. You know that Olympics is coming up in August, which gives you tons of topics to write about.
Mark that date in your calendar, as well as any other major events along the way. Set yourself a reminder a week before each event, and create a piece of content about it. That means you will always have some relevant and newsworthy content ready for the big event.
Simple. Easy. This should instantly start filling up your content calendar
Stephen King famously said:
Reading not only sharpens your writing skills, but it also gives you ideas and inspiration. I spend at least an hour reading articles and blogs every day. In one session, I’ll jot down about ten different ideas for new content.
Perhaps the blog left some questions unanswered. Maybe you have your own opinion. Look for a new angle on existing content.
Blogs and videos exist to answer people’s questions.
People are looking to learn about a new topic, or see something more clearly. People consume content because they have a problem that needs fixing. Your job is to fix their problems. Answer their questions.
Quora is an untapped resource for this. Users post genuine questions every day. And if one person is asking, you can guarantee there are thousands more wondering the same thing.
Here are the first two questions that pop up on my feed when I log onto Quora:
Straight away, that is two fantastic ideas for a blog post. In fact, the amount of content ideas you can generate from those two questions is huge.
Get your own account on Quora, input your favourite topics, and voila – instant inspiration.
If you’re looking to drive serious traffic, you’ve got to create content that your target audience is looking for. So, guess who are the best people to ask… That’s right, your existing customers!
Use your social media channels to ask your existing readers what sort of content they’d like to see. Try to be specific, and give them an option. For example, ask if they’d prefer your next blog to focus on social media or email marketing. Tally up the votes, and you’ve got your answer.
Some of the most effective pieces of content draw on personal experiences. Think about something that has challenged you in the last few months, and share your experience. Your readers love to read about real life, whether good or bad.
My first example is a hugely positive experience that (understandably) generated a ton of readers:
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have four multi-million dollar businesses. But what successes can you pass onto your readers? What have you learnt recently that would help others?
It works equally well when you’re honest about things you’ve struggled with. Ali Messe is fantastic at this:
Try to write an honest and personal article at least once a month. It instantly drives traffic because it’s relatable, unique, and gives your company a personality.
This one is simple. Dive into the comment section underneath your blogs or videos, and look for insightful comments. Look for those who want further explanation.
Use that as the basis for your next piece of content. It shows your readers that you actively engage with them, and you’re interested in their contributions.
It also answers a question that hundreds of others are probably asking too.
By now, you should be overflowing with fantastic content ideas. Now, it’s time to turn them into real pieces of content, and schedule them into your calendar. You can use the humble Apple iCal to set up content calendar. I also like to use Sprout Social to help integrate my social media and content schedule.
If you don’t give yourself deadlines, you’ll quickly find that your work doesn’t get done.
Stick to a publishing schedule that is realistic. Up next, I’ll talk you through a few realistic deadlines to commit to.
Actively build content creation and publishing into your weekly timetable. Make it a priority.
2 blog posts is a simple, doable target for any small business. A blog needn’t take longer than a couple of hours to put together. And, it will give you two big chances to drive traffic to your site every week.
On alternate days, you can give the content a second push on social media for anyone who missed it.
Skyscraper content is a big, juicy, audacious piece of content that generates a lot of interest. It is much more effective than small blog posts, but it’s also a lot more effort.
Essentially, you’re looking to create a definitive source on something. It could be the complete guide to social media tools in 2016, for example.
It could be the best snowboard tricks of all time. Whatever you choose, make it big, exciting, and highly shareable.
The beauty of skyscrapers is that you get a huge influx of instant traffic through instant sharing. You also get a nice long-tail of visitors who find the content through search engines.
Did you know that video content is the most shared form of content? Well it is. It’s not as simple as knocking out a blog post, but it might be much more effective in the long-term.
It can be as simple as talking into the camera, and outlining some key facts or statistics. As long as you’re providing valuable information, try it in a variety of different mediums.
It worked pretty well for Marija Hamed, who gained 100,000 views on this simple, but informative video.
On top of your regular content, you ought to schedule one big project per yer. This project could be an eBook or a white paper. These are authoritative guides that get really deep about a particular subject.
They position you as an expert on your topic, and give readers a huge insight into your skills. It’s perfect for building trust.
Not only that, but they’re a proven traffic driver. People will always hunt out eBooks and extended content. Better yet, they’ll part with an email address to get it. By using an eBook as a ‘lead magnet’, you’ll collect thousands of email addresses.
And – you guessed it – email newsletters drive a serious amount of traffic.
Creating content can be exhausting. So, here’s a trick: harness user-generated content.
Do what Starbucks did, and get your users to post pictures of your product in action. Starbucks ran a competition where customers could share pictures of their cup-doodles.
The result? Weeks worth of awesome free content to post online. Get creative, you can do something similar with just about anything.
Here’s an even easier tip: encourage user reviews on everything you sell. It’s an easy way to get new content up on the site regularly (great for SEO).
Once you’ve published a new blog, ask yourself one simple question: What else can I do with this?
Could you turn that information into a podcast? Could you take the key facts and create a powerful infographic? Could you turn it into a YouTube video or animation?
You can reuse the same piece of content in so many different ways. Your audience likes to digest content in different ways, so give it to them! It saves you loads of research time, and you can generate three times as much traffic.
Spread the repurposed content out over the next few months, and your calendar starts to fill up nicely!
So far, I’ve shown you how to come up with great content, and start a solid schedule. But, we’re missing the final part: making sure it drives tons of traffic.
After all, if you post a blog and no-one reads it, does it really exist?
One of the reasons why content is so good at driving content is the search engine benefits. First of all, Google likes to see lots of regular updates and content.
Secondly, content helps Google understand more about who you are and what you do. By using highly targeted keywords in your content, you can drive a lot of traffic via Google.
Choose the keywords you’re looking to rank for, and make them a huge part of your content. Let’s go back to our burger example. You’ll want to make sure your content contains lots of references to burgers and New York.
It’s so simple, but it works.
Learn more: Creative Ways To Find High Ranking and Converting Keywords
If you really want to drive traffic, you’ve got to stand out from all the other pieces of content out there. Your headlines and titles have got to break through the noise, and convince people to click on them.
Spend at least 20% of your time crafting a word-perfect title. Make it intriguing, teasing, and in-your-face. If you don’t get this part right, then you’ve wasted your time on the main article!
Pro tip: I wrote a handy guide on how to create killer headlines. Use it well!
Kittens drive a lot of traffic.
A content strategy is still the best (and cheapest) way to drive traffic to your website. But, it isn’t easy.
Traffic acquisition takes time, patience, and a schedule. It’s the key to long-term, valuable traffic.
That’s why a calendar is the content producer’s best friend! Have you got any questions or thoughts on the topic? Let me know in the comment section below.
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