Every marketer knows that traffic is the lifeblood of all online business ventures. Building traffic alerts people, and the search engines that a website is on the Internet. Without traffic, there are no buyers. Without buyers, there is no income, and without income, there is no business. Even if you’re not directly selling a product, solely making money on ad clicks, without people there to click the ads, you’re not going to earn any income.
This article will walk you through the basics of traffic methods you can use, both free and paid, to drive traffic to your website. None of these methods are guaranteed to bring you millions, and none of these methods will present overnight success. No matter how you cut it, Internet marketing takes hard work, and will not bring you instant riches.
Free vs. Paid Traffic
You don’t have to pay to advertise your website and bring traffic to it. In fact, there are a number of methods, namely social media related, that enable you to drive traffic to your website for free.
However, free of monetary investment doesn’t truly mean free. Something many Internet marketers forget is that time also equals money. If you’re starting out on a small budget, you’re going to have to invest more time to get your business off the ground, but at some point, the time you spend becomes just as valuable, if not more so than the actual money you’re “saving” by using free traffic methods. You’ll have to decide what the trade off is for you, and whether or not you can really afford to invest money into advertising.
Another point worth mentioning about free traffic is, you’ll likely have to spend a great deal more time before you will see results that make a difference. Though paid traffic won’t necessarily have instantaneous results, it generally produces quicker results than by using paid traffic alone.
Ideally, paid traffic is the best option to really get the business up and running. For people who have a limited budget, it is best to use a combination of free and paid methods to get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
[heading color=”black”]Paid Traffic Methods[/heading]
Even if you don’t have the intention of running paid traffic campaigns right away, understanding the various methods, their advantages, and how to use them will be key to your business planning and preparations as you grow.
Solo ads are stand-alone advertisements that are sent out to subscribers on an email list in a specific niche. This is a good way to reach a lot of people at once, without spending a lot of money.
A great tool for finding solo ads that will work for your business is: Safe Swaps. This is a service designed to connect people looking for ad space to those who have the ad space to offer. The service is verified and helps protect you against scams, which is why I recommend you use it compared to going out on your own and finding individuals.
You can start with a free “Guest” account, and reach out to people who accept guest ad swaps. There’s a “Prime” membership status that runs for $29.99/month, with discounts for purchasing more than one month at a time. The paid account status opens up more possibilities for solo ad exchanges.
You’ll be able to look for people in your niche offering advertising to their customers. For this to be effective, zero in on your niche as closely as possible, so you’ll have a higher chance of conversion once the ad goes out. The specifics of your campaign, such as price and number of views, etc. will vary from buyer to buyer.
Banner advertising is also a common method of driving traffic to a website. In this type of advertising, you use a graphic banner placed on another person’s website to help drive traffic to your own.
The Internet Advertising Bureau recommends using one of the following eight sizes for your banner ads:
- 486 x 60 Pixels (Full Banner)
- 392 x 72 Pixels (Full Banner with Vertical Navigation Bar)
- 234 x 60 Pixels (Half Banner)
- 120 x 240 Pixels (Vertical Banner)
- 125 x 125 Pixels (Square Button)
- 120 x 90 Pixels (Button 1)
- 120 x60 Pixels (Button 2)
- 88 x 31 Pixels (Micro Button)
It is a good idea to have banners available in multiple sizes, to ensure you can meet advertisers requests.
For banner advertising to be effective, your banner ads must be placed on highly trafficked, niche specific websites, where you know people will see them. What you’ll be paying for is the placement of your ads on websites.
The best way to handle this is to sign up with a banner advertising service, like AdClickMedia, to control where your ads go, and the number of clicks you’ll be paying for. It also prevents the chance of being scammed, when compared to going out and looking for websites to exchange banner ads with on your own. Since this is also pay-per-click, you won’t be paying for ad impressions that don’t result in people going to your website.
When evaluating, make sure your ads are placed “above the fold” or where someone can see them without having to scroll on a website. This will enable greater visibility, which increases the chances of your campaign’s success.
To ensure your banner advertisement is effective, make sure they are aesthetically pleasing, and are sent to a landing page you can track for conversion rates. If you’re not a graphic designer, consider finding a freelancer who can design a set of banner ads for you.
Google AdWords is a popular pay-per-click (PPC) advertising option. Using this brings traffic to your website, by displaying a small ad next to the search engine results, along the sidebars, of the keywords you bid for. Your ad may also be displayed on relevant websites participating in the Google AdSense service, where they receive money every time their ads are clicked. You will not pay unless your ad is clicked, so you’re not spending money on ads that aren’t going to bring people to your website.
In order for this type of campaign to be useful, you’ll need to choose keywords that are very closely related to your niche/product/service, and choose a specific landing page to send your clickers to. If your keyword selection is not ideal, then you’ll be paying for clicks that will not convert to sales for you. Typically, you’ll spend money for a few days before really seeing any progress, so you’ll need to be prepared to run this campaign for at least a couple of weeks, if not a month.
The good thing about using Google AdWords is, you can pick your keywords, and see how much each click will cost you, before you start running your campaign. You can also set a maximum daily budget, so you’ll never spend more than you can afford. Google will run your ads on those keywords until your daily budget is reached, and then stop until the following day.
Keep a good eye on your campaign, so you can determine whether you need to adjust your keywords before you spend too much money. If you notice it doing really well, then you may want to consider increasing your budget, to boost it that much further.
Google AdWords will also provide their own internal tracking system from within your account, so you can see how well your ads are performing, and how many clicks the ads are bringing you. Then, you can compare it with your own analytics data to see how well the campaign is working for you. We’ll talk more about ways you can ensure your paid traffic campaigns are working for you in the next section.
To use Google Adwords, create your free account. You may have a starter campaign already in your account.
Click “New Campaign” if you want to start from scratch. Or, use the Starter campaign to familiarize yourself with its setup.
You’ll be able to choose whether you want the ads to be displayed just on Google’s search results, just on Google’s ad network partners (Gmail, Google Finance, YouTube, etc.) or on both. It’s a good idea to go with both, as this will maximize exposure, but remember, you’re paying for clicks, so it will also increase the likelihood of your ad being clicked.
You’ll be able to choose whether you want the ads to display on all devices, or just on computers, just on mobile phones, or just tablets. For best results, choose all devices. You’ll also be able to choose the location, your bid amounts for keywords and your daily budget.
On the next screen, pictured below, you’ll develop the actual ad content, and see examples of ads. You’ll also choose your keywords, and be able to estimate the search traffic to determine if those are the keywords you want to use. Google advises starting out with 10 to 20 keywords. If you’ve already done your research, you can import them from a spreadsheet.
At this point, you’ll set you bids for clicks. You’ll be warned if your bid isn’t going to be high enough. When you’re satisfied with your bids, you can save and move to billing, or you can save the campaign and setup billing later.
Your campaign will not start running until you’ve put a payment method in your account, so Google can automate billing. You can start and stop campaigns whenever you want, and you can save them for later.
Your hosting company may offer a certain amount of free credit after you’ve spent money on your campaign. Check you hosting control panel to see if you’re eligible for any of these offers.
Bing Ads is another type of PPC campaign, but instead of using the Google search engine use the Bing search engine. Though Bing doesn’t quite have the traffic Google does, it is a close competitor, and it is a good idea to make use of both of them if you can. If you can’t decide which one to use, take a look at your website analytics and see which search engine is bringing more traffic to your website through organic search. If you see more traffic coming from Bing, opt for Bing ads over Google AdWords.
It works the same way as Google AdWords in the sense that you can pick your keywords, write your ads, set a budget, and only pay for ads when they are clicked. To make things easier, you can either import your Google AdWords campaign into Bing Ads, or you can start from scratch.
Using both Google AdWords and Bing Ads is a good way to approach your split testing, to see which ads perform better.
Facebook advertising is a great way to make use of social media to help drive traffic, especially if your fan page is just getting started and you want to increase activity there, too.
Facebook advertising programs work similarly to Google AdWords and Bing Ads, in the sense that you can control your budget on a daily basis, as well as see reports to determine how well the ads are doing. However, there are some significant differences in the way these campaigns work, because you have a few different options.
- Increase Page “Likes”
- Promote Page “Posts”
- See Advanced Options
With the “increase page ‘likes’” option, you can choose the page you want to promote, create your ad, and choose where you want the click to send the person to (timeline, photos, or any other page “tab” you may have). You can also include “Sponsored Stories” in people’s newsfeeds, for example: “Jane Doe likes “Your Page Name Here” for no additional cost.
With the “promote page ‘posts’” option, you can choose a certain post to promote on your page. You also have the option to leave it at a certain post, or to continuously keep your ad up-to-date with the most recent post.
With the “see advanced options”, you can set your Facebook ads to run on a cost per click (CPC), or cost per thousand impressions (CPM). This means you can either pay every time the ad is clicked, or for every time the ad is displayed on a page, rather than clicked.
Typically, you’ll pay less for each time the ad is served when you’re opting to pay for CPM, but you’re not as likely to see those convert than you are to see them convert when you pay for the click. However, you are required to pay for the click, regardless of whether or not it converts to a page “like.” This is no different than paying for a click on a Google or Bing ad, regardless of whether that click converts to a paying customer.
The main difference between Google and Bing Ads and Facebook ads is that instead of selecting keywords to display the ads on, you’ll be choosing the audience you want to expose your ad to.
You choose the:
- Location: Country, State, City, Zip code
- Precise interests
- Broad interests
- Connection to your page: You can show this only to people who are already connected to your page in some way, such as only people who already connected your page, only people who are not already connected to your page, or people who are targeted to certain topics, events, and friends of current connections.
You can also choose people to advertise to based on who they are interested in, their relationship status, their language, their education status, and their workplace, if you opt to use advanced targeting techniques.
You can choose to constantly run your campaign starting on the day you create it (once it’s approved by Facebook, which generally takes about 24 hours) or you can set a finite date range to run the campaign.
I advise you to get as specific as possible for your niche. Though with each segment you specify, the total number of people decreases, you’re getting more targeted, which means you have a greater chance of converting the people who do see your advertisement.