Starting a new website or blog is always exciting. The possibilities and potential are unlimited!
But usually frustration sets in pretty quickly. Getting visitors to see your amazing new site can be a real challenge. None of the dreams you have for your website or blog will come true if you’re not able to get traffic to the site.
Most established websites get the majority of their traffic from a few different sources:
- Search engines (mostly Google)
- Social media
- Links from other websites and blogs
- An email list
- Direct traffic (people who type your URL into the browser to go straight to your site)
Every one of these traffic sources can be built up over time, but none of them are likely to happen instantly. Google typically sends very little search traffic to new websites, and it can easily take 6 months to a year to build steady traffic from Google searches.
Since your site is new you probably have no existing links from other websites and no email list. You also probably have no social media followers for the site.
New sites also tend to get no direct traffic, because people who would be interested in your site simply don’t know about it yet.
So what can you do?
As a new website owner or blogger you obviously need to get your site in front of your target audience so they can become familiar with your site, but this can be a challenging and frustrating process.
You can’t wait 6 months to a year until you start getting organic Google search traffic.
In this article we’ll take a look at 7 different ways even new website owners and bloggers can start driving traffic. Read through the article, find a few that would be a good fit for you, and start to implement them today.
See my step-by-step guide How to Start a Blog. It walks you through the process of getting your own blog set up in a matter of just a few minutes.
TrafficZion is new software that helps you to get free traffic hands free. I’ve actually been using TrafficZion with a few websites since it was launched earlier this year, and the results have been pretty good, all things being considered.
There are a lot of software options for driving traffic. From my experience, most of them suck. They either drive really poor quality traffic, or they put your site at risk of some sort of penalty from Google.
TrafficZion helps you to get traffic from WordPress users. All you do is set it up and enter some tags that are relevant to your content, and then you need to leave the program open so it can run in the background.
What I like about TrafficZion is the visitors are actually pretty high quality. Most of them are other bloggers, and they should be interested in the topics that you cover. I’ve tested TrafficZion on 5 or 6 different websites. Every one of those sites did get some traffic as a result. Now, it didn’t send huge floods of traffic, but for a new site that has no existing traffic, every little bit helps.
Of the sites I’ve tested with TrafficZion, my wife’s blog has had the best results. It was a brand new blog that had no other traffic. As soon as I started using TrafficZion with the blog she started getting a flow of traffic every day, and most importantly, these visitors also engaged with the content. The average time on site was very strong, and she got multiple comments on each of her posts. Some of these visitors have come back and commented on multiple posts. She also wound up getting a link or two naturally as a result of that traffic.
Right now TrafficZion is available as a one-time purchase. You can pay once, download the software and use it on your computer to drive traffic to your sites. From what I understand a web-based version with a monthly fee will be available in the near future.
As I mentioned, I’ve tried TrafficZion with several sites. From what I’ve seen, the best results have been with sites that are in an industry that has a passionate audience. You could use it for a website or blog in any niche, but if it’s some obscure niche or topic that people don’t really care about, you may not get great results.
The reason I have TrafficZion listed first is because it takes basically no time. You can get it set up, let it run, and use your time for some of the other things on this list.
Of all the social media sites, Pinterest is by far my favorite for driving traffic. While Pinterest does have a social aspect (you can follow other uses, comment on their pins, and message other users), it’s much different from other social networks like Facebook. When was the last time you commented on a pin? If you’re like most Pinterest users, the social aspect isn’t a major part of your use of the site.
Pinterest has a search function that can generate a lot of exposure for content that is pinned, and Pinterest also shows a lot of suggested pins that are determined based on things like keywords and hashtags. Because of this, you don’t need to have a massive following to get traffic from Pinterest (although a big following isn’t going to hurt). Many bloggers that get significant traffic from Pinterest have only a few thousand followers, or even less. I know that sounds like a lot when you’re starting with zero, but think about the Instagram and Twitter users that have millions of followers.
It’s very possible to start using Pinterest today and see a few visitors almost immediately. While you may need to wait 6 months to a year to build decent search traffic from Google, you might start getting steady traffic from Pinterest in 30-60 days.
So how can you get started with Pinterest? Here are a few keys:
Focus on creating a quality profile:
- Your profile’s title should be readable and make sense, but you should also use your most important keywords.
- Create boards with keyword-rich titles (don’t use cute names that don’t include important keywords).
- Fill out your profile description and board descriptions and include all your most important and relevant keywords.
- Validate your site and set up rich pins (see this article on Socially Sorted for a quick guide to setting up rich pins on WordPress).
- Set up at least 10 boards with at least 10 pins each so your profile doesn’t look empty.
Now that you have your profile set up, there are a few keys to getting visibility for your pins:
Create attractive graphics. Pinterest is a visual platform, so obviously you’ll get the best results if your pins are visually appealing. you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create images that work well for Pinterest. You can use free software like Canva (they even have some Pinterest templates) and free photos and images from sites like Pixabay. This tutorial on Moms Make Cents shows how you can easily create images for Pinterest, even if you’re not a designer. You can also get some free Pinterest templates RichMomBusiness.com.
Make sure to include text on your pins that is large enough to be easily read in the Pinterest feed. Also, be sure to avoid fonts that are hard to read, like some handwritten fonts.
Use keywords. Although Pinterest is a visual platform, the search engine aspect of it is also very important. Be sure to enter a keyword-rich description every time you pin something from your site.
Not sure what keywords you should use? Start typing in the Pinterest search bar and you’ll see some suggested searches. These are phrases that people are actually searching for, so include the ones that are relevant to your content.
Then after you finish the search Pinterest will also show some related keywords below the search bar and above the pins on the screen.
If you’re starting with a new Pinterest profile you’ll want to take some steps to start to increase your reach.
Try Tailwind Tribes. Tailwind is a popular web app that allows you to schedule your pins so they will be spread out, and pinned at times when your followers are most likely to see them. It also has a feature that they call Tailwind Tribes.
Tribes are different groups of users that are interested in a particular topic. For example, you could join a tribe on personal finance. Tribe members can then share their own pins with other tribe members. You can pin content that you find from other tribe members, and others will pin yours if they like it.
This is a great way to get some momentum for a new site or blog. While Tailwind does require a subscription fee, they do offer a free trial. You can pin 100 items for free and during that free trial you can join up to 5 different tribes. This is a great way to try it out to see if it is something that you think is worth paying for.
Join group boards. After you create a board on Pinterest you can invite other Pinterest users to be able to pin to that board, if you want. Likewise, there are a lot of existing group boards that are open to new contributors. You can request an invite to these boards and once you are invited you’ll be able to pin to the board, giving you exposure to people following the group board.
When you’re getting started look for about 5 group boards on your topics that are open to new contributors (read the board description and if the board owner is interested in inviting new users they will have some instructions for how to contact them). Be sure that you are following the rules of any group board that you use, but these group boards can be a great way to get your new blog in front of a larger audience.
To find group boards you can use a directory like PinGroupie, or simply look through the profiles of other Pinterest users in your niche. You can identify group boards by the circle with multiple gravatars (see image below).
So this was a very quick look at how you can use Pinterest to start getting traffic to your blog. There are a lot more details that could be covered, and there are even courses and e-books dedicated to the topic. While I can’t cover all of the details in this article, here are some free resources that go into more depth:
- 40+ Smart Strategies to Grow Your Blog with Pinterest
- How I Managed to Gain 4.8K Pinterest Followers with Little Effort
- The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest Group Boards
3. Leverage Someone Else’s Audience
Your new blog or website probably has no audience at this point, and that is totally normal. Obviously, you’ll want to build that audience over a period of time.
One of the best ways to start to build your own audience is to leverage or tap into someone else’s audience. For this to work well you’ll need to find blogs or websites with a target audience that is as similar to yours as possible. A large audience is nice, but active or responsive audience is even better. For example, blogs that get a lot of comments and social media shares typically have active, responsive audiences.
There are several different ways that you can leverage someone else’s audience. Here are a few possibilities.
Writing guest posts for other blogs has been one of the best ways to build your audience for several years, and it’s still a great approach. Guest posts typically will include a brief author bio (either at the beginning or end of the article) with a link back to your site. In some cases you may even be able to link to your site within the body of the article if the link is helpful and relevant. Getting your article published on another blog can give you very valuable exposure to that blog’s audience, and some of those readers will click on your link and visit your site.
A few tips for the best success with your guest posts:
- Focus on quality not quantity. Getting posts published on a few key sites can be more helpful than many posts on a lot of small blogs that don’t have much of an audience.
- Don’t hold back. Write your best content possible, don’t cut corners just because it won’t be published on your own blog. You want to make a strong impression on the people that read the article.
- What do you want to be known for? Focus your posts on your areas of expertise and you can brand yourself as a go-to source of information on the topic.
- Include a call to action. Your bio is very important. Don’t just simply link back to your site. Give readers a reason to click on the link and come to your site. You can use the author bio to mention that you have a great free resource that builds on the article, and link to a landing page on your site where people can enter their email address to get your freebie. Now you’re converting that visitor into someone who is likely to come back to your site over and over in the future. This concept of using a “content upgrade” is a common way to build an email list on your site, but most people don’t do it with guest posts.
For details on how to move forward with guest posts, see The 101 Guide to Guest Posting for Bloggers.
Have you considered interviewing someone who is influential in your industry and publishing it at your blog? The person you are interviewing would likely be willing to share a link to the interview through their social media profiles, which gives you some easy promotion. In addition to regular interviews you can also do this with video interviews, or podcasts.
Group interviews or expert roundups can be extremely powerful because you could get many different people helping you to promote the interview. If you get 25 different people to participate in your group interview probably at least 10-15 (if not more) of those people will be willing to share a link to the interview from their social profiles. This type of post will take a more time to complete than your average blog post, but you can get some really nice exposure from it, plus it gives you a chance to contact influential people in your industry and start to build some connections. Outside of the internet marketing/blogging/make money online niche this approach is not used very often.
If you don’t want to interview people, you can even just create a list of top bloggers, top podcasts, or most influential people in your niche. Link to their sites and write a brief description for each. Then after publishing the post you can reach out to each person and let them know they have been featured. You can ask them to consider sharing the link if you’d like, and many of them will share it through their social profiles even if you don’t ask.
Want to learn more about how to do this? Read Sue Anne Dunlevie’s article Everything You Need to Create an Expert Roundup Post.
If you include links to other bloggers in your posts, consider contacting those bloggers to let them know that you’ve featured them in your post. Some of them will share your post with their social media followers. Even if they don’t share it, it gives you a great excuse to get in touch with other bloggers and start to build your network.
Contribute Something of Value
The last option I’ll cover in this section of leveraging someone else’s audience is to contribute something of value. This is pretty vague because it could be a lot of different things. For example, a lot of web and graphic design blogs publish free resources that other designers can download and use in their own work. If you’re a designer you could create a set of icons and offer it to a major blog to give away to their readers.
If you’re a travel photographer you could put together a package of your own photos that you want to give away to others, and distribute it from someone else’s website in exchange for a link to your site.
If you’re a food blogger you could put together an e-book of recipes and allow another site to give it away to their audience, and ask them to link back to your site.
There are all kinds of possibilities. Think of the specifics of your industry or niche, as well as your own skills and abilities.
4. Comment on Other Blogs
Commenting on other blogs is a great way to get traffic to a new site. You don’t want to link to your site in the body of the comment, that’s usually seen as spam. Just leave a helpful, relevant comment and some visitors will click on your name that links back to your site. Very few of your blog comments will drive significant amounts of traffic on their own, but each one is capable of getting at least a few clicks. This may not sound like a lot, but if you comment on several blog posts every day it can add up. And best of all, this is targeted traffic if you are commenting on blog posts that are closely related to the topic of your site.
For the best results, try to comment quickly after a post is published so you can be one of the first comments. If it’s an active blog that gets a lot of comments you’ll get much better results if your comment is one of the first ones rather than being buried after many other comments.
Use a feed reader like Feedly to subscribe to many different blogs in your niche and check it at least once a day to find posts that you can comment on. Check the feed reader more frequently to have a better chance of being one of the first comments.
You can also follow the blogs on social media so you’ll get notifications when they share their new posts. Some blogs also offer push notifications which will alert you right in the browser when a new post is published.
Blog commenting is something that anyone can do, but very few go to the effort to actually do it consistently. Ryan Biddulph of Blogging from Paradise is a great example of a successful blogger who used this strategy extensively to build his own audience and to connect with many other bloggers in his niche.
5. Facebook Groups
Over the past few years it’s gotten harder and harder to get organic traffic from a Facebook page. Most blogs have Facebook pages, but typically you’ll need to pay to get decent visibility for anything that you publish to your Facebook page. As a result, many bloggers write off Facebook as not being worth their time.
While organic traffic from Facebook pages has decreased, the opportunities to use Facebook groups should not be overlooked.
A group is different from a page. A Facebook group is set up by one or more users, and it gathers users who are interested in a particular topic. A group can be open, which means anyone can join, or it can be closed, which means an administrator has to approve you. Don’t let that intimidate you, most closed groups are very easy to get it into. In most cases they are closed simply to prevent people from outside the group from viewing the content, not to prevent people from joining.
There are Facebook groups for almost any topic you can imagine, and in most cases the people in these groups are very interested in the topic. There are a few different ways that you can use Facebook groups for getting exposure to your site. Almost every group will have some rules about what you can post, and you may not be able to post a link to your latest blog article. If the group does allow promotion and people seem open to it, feel free to share a link when you have something really good to share. Otherwise, use the group to connect to other people who are in your target audience. When a situation arises you may be able to mention your site (such as when someone asks a question that is answered in one of your blog posts). Even if you can’t directly post links in a Facebook group it can still be worth your time. The connections that you make can be really valuable and lead to new opportunities, especially if other people in the group are bloggers.
You can also use one of the techniques mentioned earlier, providing something of value. Let’s go back to the example of a food blogger. Say you’re in a Facebook group that focuses on gluten-free living. You could put together a free e-book of gluten-free recipes and contact the Facebook group administrator to ask for permission to share your e-book in the group. The more unique and valuable your free resource is, the better results you will have.
To find groups, click on “group” in the left sidebar of Facebook. Then do a search or click on “discover” to see some groups Facebook suggests for you.
6. Form an Inner Circle
Building a successful blog is all about networking and connecting with other bloggers in your industry or niche. Don’t think of other bloggers as your competitors. You can actually help each other out quite a bit.
Blogger outreach is commonly considered one of the best ways to grow traffic to your site, and rightly so. With blogger outreach you’ll be contacting a large number of other bloggers to promote your content, and hopefully to build some relationships.
Forming an inner circle is kind of like blogger outreach but on a smaller scale. Basically, the idea is to gather a small number of bloggers in a particular niche or industry who are all interested and willing to help each other out. For example, you could form a group of five bloggers who all comment on each other’s posts, share each other’s posts on social media, and even link to each other if appropriate. The group could be formal or informal, but either way everyone in the group benefits.
Find other new bloggers in your niche and try to get to know them. If it seems like a good fit you could ask them about helping each other, and you can both look for other bloggers to grow the inner circle. You probably won’t want to add too many people, 5 is probably a good number. A larger group would require more time for everyone to comment on each other’s posts, more content that needs to be shared on social media, and with larger groups some people tend to only take and not give, which doesn’t work.
Over the years I’ve been a part of a few inner circles, both formal and informal. As a new blogger it can help to get a little bit more traffic from social media, and the comments on your posts make your blog look more legit. You may also form some good relationships with other up-and-coming bloggers.
7. Paid Traffic
The last strategy we’re going to look at is to simply pay for traffic. There are a lot of different ways you can go about doing this: Google AdWords, Facebook ads, banner ads, sponsored blog posts, solo ads (email), etc. My recommendation is to use the paid traffic to build your email list. That way you’ll be building an asset that will continue to send traffic to your blog or website in the future, rather than just paying for a quick burst of traffic today that is gone tomorrow.
If you want to use paid traffic to build your list you could use Facebook ads and a send visitors to a landing page with a free offer, and the visitor will need to enter their email address to get your freebie. This can work well, but depending on your niche it may be expensive. Facebook also offers lead ads where Facebook users can opt in to your list without even leaving Facebook. Sometimes you can get much cheaper results with lead ads as compared to regular Facebook ads that drive traffic to your website or landing page. Want to learn more about Facebook lead ads? Check out this guide from HubSpot.
Another option is to use Opt-Intelligence, where you will pay per lead. If you’re only asking for an email address the prices can be pretty reasonable.
While getting traffic is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll have to face with a new website or blog, there are some options. Pick a few things from this list and start putting them into place with your own website or blog, and you should start to see results.
Feel free to share your own strategies or suggestions in the comments.