Forget that title already, it’s something which will just confuse you and lead you up the garden path of a low traffic site (well unless you are selling to the social media niche, as in people wanting to be a part of the scene – yuck please hand me the “in-flight social media sick bag”).
No, the word social is clearly a very undefined entity to the point of simply causing confusion, just take a look at these definitions of the word social.
Um what? … you mean “human media”, no really, human beings interacting with media that is digitised, oh goodness me that’s one complicated cookie to get our head around isn’t it.
Hmmm … and people are also trying to measure social media influence ? – How can one possibly measure something that is even outside of a definition itself?
Let me let you into a secret, you can’t.
What you can do is analyse qualitative data as a means of capturing intention, and then segment as much as possible and dish up delicious customised experiences (more of that later, if you watch closely).
Right, now that that is out of the way, let’s just consider the term media and fuck the “social” bit, OK, that’s MEDIA, as in stuff we can interact with, comment on, share, immerse into, and generally be a geekoid with.
Find below a list of things that will bring you traffic, it is a list that has worked for me, and continues to, it is not exhaustive by any means but a good start:
- Content – it may sound obviously obvious but search engines absolutely adore fresh original content, it is their job to go out and hunt and gather new content. If you regularly add fresh content you will be continuously feeding the search engine spiders looking for food.
- Minimal design – you need to forget about making the site too pretty with flash and other nonsense that search engines cannot read. Here there is often a trade-off between that flashy agency design and what will actually help the site get noticed in search. Take my advice and do not use Flash, use a clean VERY quick loading template, simpler the better (look at Google itself)
- Forums – visit all the major forums in your niche, create an account, edit your profile and become busy reading and reading and reading and then start to engage in the community there and offer help and advice on a balanced level. Visit them daily and become prominent in your niche, you are aiming to be associated with being an authority on your subject. I’m including Facebook groups in here, you know large number ones.
- Trends – monitor your niche by using google alerts and trends, and really keep an eye out for what is hot, then write content about it when it is a buzz topic. The aim here is to get the news about products before they are launched, so you are right up there with your date stamp.
- Logs – site access logs are like mines of gold, you know where you can hunt and see how people are finding your site, how are they reaching you, and from where and with what keyword combinations? This is essential reading, very geeky but I kid you not, you will find gold in your web logs. If your host doesn’t provide them change your host, you cannot do any serious business without reading your web access logs. You will be amazed at how people are finding your site, you should then provide more content for them (see this ties in with capturing intention above).
- Page load – I’m a widget hater, not because they do funny things and connect you up with third party content, but their strength is also your weakness. Widgets will slow your site down to a crawl if not careful. This is bad for search engine spiders and bad for customer experience on your site, it is a major sucky experience. You can use this tool to check your site(s). I started using widgets back in 2000 where I was displaying content on one site pulled from others, believe me I learnt my lessons early on that reliance on third party feeds and content is not a good idea. Proceed there with caution, ensure the feeds you choose are VERY resilient and fast as hell. Page load speed is EVERYTHING for customer experience.
- Stickiness – you know when you pop along to the pub and the conversation is so cool you can’t leave? Or the bartender has the twinkle in her/his eyes that just keeps you there? That’s stickiness, you need that equivalent on your site to keep people there and more importantly coming back for more.
- In Bounds – in bounds links or IBLs are the golden currency of Google, the more links you have pointing to your site for a specific keyword the higher in the rankings you will potentially appear, it is almost that simple, to a point. The higher the page-rank of the site linking to you, the higher the quality of IBL, therefore the more ranking potential. You must make gaining IBLs a fundamental target of your traffic building campaign. There is not easy way to do this other than creating compelling content that people will link to, or popping along and actually asking for links. N.B. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Some So.Me “experts” might say just blog away and people will link if it’s good. That’s basically completely inefficient, you need to target sites, people and links, you want traffic don’t you? Don’t gamble in the hope people will magically link to you.
- Directories – make sure you your site is appearing in all the major directories, the biggest is probably DMOZ, are you in it? Oh by the way did I mention this has been community edited since the late 90s, yes way before the ridiculous term Web2.0 raised it’s ugly head. Get in all the major directories for your niche.
- Ebay – you what Chris? Yes ebay, I would put up a digital package for sale, you know a virtual thing, information for sale, and set it for bidding, including links back to my sites in the descriptions (plus branding potential) – huge amount of eyeballs on your product and brand there.
- Craig’s List – similar in approach to the above, don’t make it obviously advertorial but you will find huge amounts of eyeballs there for your site/brand.
- Free Downloads – Package up a free download and get it hosted on a variety of download sites, the big one being download.com. Befriend a coder who can build a simple download for you around your site/product. I personally like ones which bring the user back to your site for a whole host of reasons including updates, interaction, support etc etc. Again, huge numbers to tap into here. Think iPhone apps or whatever is the latest thing.
- Google Analytics – don’t piss about with second rate measuring, get yourself deep into the jedi analytics of traffic, seriously study what is taking place on your site, it is all there to be read and disseminated. Here you need to create regular reporting systems so that you can make evolutionary changes based on the reports, small site changes can make a significant difference to traffic.
- SEO – search engine optimisation, actually much of what I have said already and what follows falls under this heading, so let’s leave it at that, but also just to mention study the basic SEO concepts on page construction. If you do not know basic HTML and the implications for search you should start immediately.
- Press Releases – ignore what the “social douches” say about press releases, believe me they will bring you significant traffic and ranking providing you target them with keywords. There are hundreds and hundreds of press releases submission sites around (full-disclosure that’s mine), you should aim to pump your release into about 20 or more of the significant ones.
- Out Bounds – aim to place some out-bound links to sites of authority in your keyword target, you will be amazed what associating with authority can bring.
- Blog Comments – hmm well maybe to a point, yet in the eyes of search you can forget about getting ranked for them, well your own site anyway, as most site owners use the nofollow tag. OK maybe some PEOPLE will follow through onto your site after reading a comment, but seriously, the numbers are not that significant at all to the above.
- Guest Blogging – for sure this is a good thing to do, you have the ability to create links on other sites to destinations of your choice with the keywords of your choice, this is gold. The trick is becoming someone who will be asked to guest post.
- Free Articles – write articles with a disclaimer in them that they can be re-published providing the links are left in place. There are thousands of people out there looking for content to post all the time, so go ahead and let them, you’ll gain if the links remain.
- Newsletters – you can love them or hate them but I’m telling you they work very well at building a community and brining people back time and time again. Just ensure you segment your data well and send relevant information to people, that they want (again we are seeing intent feature here). Segment heavily.
- Infinite responders – you can set up a series of emails that are sent at a pre-defined intervals all pre-written, serving up helpful information lightly sprinkled with data tags you have collected to ensure appropriate segmentation. This aid in building credibility for your wares, and run on auto-pilot, they are heavy traffic pullers and this is one of my favourites.
- Stumble Upon – worth putting all your pages into the pie here and while at it crank them into other similar style initiatives, and certainly many of the smaller search engines that allow submit.
- Email Lists – sign-up to very busy email lists and gently become familiar with the etiquette and before long you will be able to post to the list helping people out and also show-casing your wares.
That’s all I have time for now but should be a good start, I may even come back and add some more once I remember them. Certainly each item on the list could warrent a post by itself.
The main thing to extract here is that “social” is a red herring, traffic is about following the numbers, and then segmenting it once you have it, but I’d welcome your thoughts on it too. What do you say?