A few weeks ago I wrote a two-part post on how to maximize your search engine optimization (SEO), one post outlined the things you should avoid, and another post focused on effective SEO strategies. Since then, I’ve received a lot of feedback and questions, both from visitors and especially from some of the people who I coach. The thing is, while I always encourage people to embrace SEO, I never encourage people to rely exclusively on SEO, and in particular, I discourage people from relying on Google. As reported by WebProNews, unexpected Google updates can wipe out entire categories of websites, or kill your traffic with new algorithms. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to safeguard your website and make sure that you have other means of generating traffic.
WHY RELYING ON GOOGLE IS PROBLEMATIC
Richard Fisher from Online Income Teacher posted a great article that succinctly explains why you shouldn’t rely on Google. Firstly, Google makes about 200 changes in their algorithms over the course of a typical year. This means that whatever was working for you in January, may be hurting you by the time June comes around. These changes could increase your traffic by increasing your ranking, so it is always important to optimize your site for search engines; however, it can also kill your ranking and in turn cut your traffic significantly. I had one client whose traffic was cut by literally 50%, and he was one of the lucky ones. Given the recent increase in mobile use, Fisher expects that Google’s algorithms may soon be geared toward smart phones, which makes it hard to anticipate what changes may be on the horizon. It makes sense to make your site mobile friendly, but it is hard to anticipate such changes. With this in mind, building your site around Google can be like building a house on sand. Focus on your readers and clients and what they want, not what Google wants.
FIVE EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES TO GOOGLE
1: PAID TRAFFIC
There is no traffic like paid traffic, but not all paid traffic is effective. When it comes to online marketing, I find that there are few sites that get the traffic I’m looking for better than Warrior Forum, but Warrior Forum may not be as suited for your niche. In that case Facebook Ads may be best. I haven’t found that they work for my niche, but I have heard that others have seen better results, especially sites that are simply trying to promote content and drive traffic. Bing and Yahoo Ads, though not as popular as Google Ads, can be more effective than you might expect and are far more affordable. You may find that you get more traffic on the dollar than you would for Google, given that the market is so much more competitive when it comes to Google Ads. I will be putting a post together in the future about the best paid sites, but for now, check out what others marketers in the Warrior Forum are saying and read Jonathan Long’s article from The Huffington Post that outlines some of the best paid traffic sources.
2: SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE
Because I focus on help newbie affiliates and entrepreneurs, I’m always trying to find the most cost effective ways to drive traffic to a website, and there is no other means that is more cost efficient than social networking since the only thing you need is to invest a little time to make them work for you. Pinterest is a great social networking site, especially if you are a business related to the culinary arts, home and garden, crafts, or fashion. For those interested in this site, I have a detailed post outlining methods you can use to make Pinterest work for you. Facebook is the most popular social networking site, but it is best to create a fan page rather than using your personal account, this way people who are interested in your niche can follow the page and you don’t have to worry about mixing your business with your personal life. Twitter can also be a valuable tool when it comes to driving traffic to your site, so be sure to check out my post on Twitter so that you can use it as effectively possible.
One of the best ways to send traffic to your site is by engaging in conversations in forums. Find websites that have forums on the topics in your niche and engage with the community. This is a great practice for several reasons, the first of which being that it allows you to keep current on news and trends related to your niche so you can better gear your products or content to what is trending in your field. It is also beneficial because it helps your develop credibility and increase trust in your brand. When creating or responding to posts, you can offer links to your site and drive traffic that way. Always be careful to follow the etiquette of the forum so that you don’t get banned of classified as spam. For the best traffic results, check out Reddit. The people I coach have seen their best success with Reddit, which can easily drive in more traffic than a Google search engine result, but be aware of the guidelines in each community and don’t just share your own posts, otherwise you will be classified as spam.
I recently wrote a post about the value of autoresponders and also gave my readers some free options for lead generators that work in much the same way, but I cannot stress the value of autoresponders enough. I personally see a 500% increase on traffic in days when I sent out notifications through my autoresponder. If somebody visits your site and likes your content, you want to be able to give them the ability to sign up for notifications so that you can keep them coming. If you are driving traffic to your site through paid ads or hard work by developing a following on social networks and forums, you don’t want to waste that time and energy by only securing a single visit from an interested party. Having an autoresponder gives your visitors the opportunity to sign up for notifications so that you can transform those ‘new visitors’ into ‘returning visitors’, because they only thing better than getting 10 000 new visitors a day, is making sure they all become regular visitors. If you aren’t sure that the autoresponder is worth the investment required, give it a try and use Google Analytics to see if your return visitors are increasing enough to make it worth your while.
5: GUEST POSTS
This method is a little more time consuming, but it can be effective. Find bloggers and entrepreneurs that are in the same niche as you. If you are selling a product, make sure you don’t solicit a competitor, but if your website is content based, competitors should be viewed as colleagues as many readers visit more than one or two website. Offer to trade blog posts and swap backlinks to each other’s pages. In this way, you can each borrow readers or clients from each other in a mutually beneficial, symbiotic exchange. Be careful of those asking to guest posts for you, and make sure the people you contact are getting the kind of traffic that will be beneficial to you. The great thing about this, is that the post will be up for ever, so even though the initial spike in traffic you see will quickly drop, you will receive and unending trickle of readers from some of these exchanges that can build up over time.
Goolge is great, and I rely on it a lot, but their Ad Words program can be problematic as they frequently suspend users who violate their guidelines, something that often happens unintentionally because their guidelines are so vague. Likewise, their search engine algorithms and new features can destroy somebody’s ranking and turn a flood of traffic into a trickle, or make an entire category of websites obsolete. Do not rely on Google for your traffic. Instead, use a balance of paid strategies if you have the money, namely paid ads and autoresponders, and free techniques by taking full advantage of online forums, social networking, and guest posting. Google can be of significant help when driving traffic to your site, but you must diversify if you hope to be an autonomous business.
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