One of the biggest problems many website owners have is they’re completely dependent on one traffic source. Imagine opening a restaurant and then the city decides to close down every street leading to it. Not good for pancake sales.
In this guide, I’m going to cover how to make your content thrive on multiple platforms so you can sleep at night knowing one change won’t destroy your business.
This is the 4th guide in my series on how to build a profitable website, so be sure to check out the first three in the Guides section if you haven’t already.
As I’ve said repeatedly, content is king. But how do you position your quality content so that the various platforms show it to their users? We’re going to go over each of the primary sources of traffic, what makes them surface your content, and the challenges you’ll face.
In the future, I will be getting into the nitty gritty of each platform with dedicated guides. This one will make sure you’re doing things correctly across the board from day one.
Table of Contents
- Google Visitors
- Newsletter Subscribers
- Facebook Visitors
- Other Quality Traffic Sources
- Recapping How To Increase Website Visitors
As you continue building your website, you’re undoubtedly going to learn one thing: algorithms can be extremely frustrating.
What Is An Algorithm?
In extremely simple terms, an algorithm is basically what determines where your site shows up on a particular platform. For example, if this article shows up 5th when you Google “diversified website traffic,” it was Google’s backend algorithm that determined that. Where and how often your site shows up can be the difference between $1 per month and $100,000 per month, so understanding how algorithms work is vital.
When Google, Facebook, Pinterest or any other platform changes their algorithms, there are winners and losers. Some sites get seen more and some sites get seen less. The key here is to diversify your traffic sources from day one. That way, when Zuckerberg wakes up one day and presses a button, your business won’t vanish. Being completely dependent on one source will give you anxiety that you don’t need, and it’s likely that some day you’re going to feel the unfair wrath of an algorithm change because they’re just not perfect.
But there’s good news.
Algorithms Want What People Want
Algorithms crave quality content. It is their entire purpose. If you’re putting your heart and soul into sharing great information with the world, you’re actually doing the algorithms a favor. You shouldn’t fear them – you should feed them.
As the abundance of content on the web grows exponentially, there’s still plenty of opportunity to stand out. For every one person building something special, one thousand people are creating garbage. You will stand out if you stay stay disciplined and continue creating high quality, helpful content.
All that said, let’s talk about each of the key traffic sources and how to best position yourself to be favored by their respective algorithm.
Like my other guides, I want you to read this guide with as much of a psychological approach as a tangible one. There are no secret formulas to exploit any of these multi billion dollar companies, so do things right and the money will follow.
There was a time when I’d be leading this guide with Facebook as far as getting traffic goes. But times have changed, and Google is the best source of website traffic all around.
Advantages Of Google
- The algorithm is the most mature and dependable.
- Generally, the quality of traffic is very high, meaning more money to you.
- Google is very clear about what they want from website owners.
- There are dozens of proven SEO strategies and tools.
- It’s the absolute staple of search, and the number of Googlers each day isn’t going away.
Challenges Of Google
- Like all algorithms, one change can instantly reduce your traffic and income.
- New sites struggle to rank until authority and quality is proven.
- Ranking 10th versus 1st for a term can mean massive traffic versus almost no traffic.
How To Maximize Google Traffic
Okay, so what do we do to maximize Google traffic? By following my guides, you’ve already set yourself up for success by being on a fast, secure host and creating high quality content. If you ever want Google to give you love, never skimp on quality. But when it comes to Google, high quality content has a best friend: backlinks.
Backlinks are basically links from other websites that point to your website.
For example, if I link from this article to Google’s guide on what site owners should know about core updates, that’s a backlink to them. (You should read that by the way.)
Think of a link to your website as an endorsement. Another site has said, “Wow this article is great… I’m going to link to it in my own article because it helps my readers.” In my guides, you’ll find several links to other helpful sites, which signals to Google that they are, in fact, helpful sites. It builds your reputation which tells Google to rank you higher for your content.
The best way to get backlinks goes back to its best friend: great content. Great content will get linked naturally because it’s… great. That being said, there are methods to increase backlinks in an above-board way.
Before I continue, this is very important: do not ever buy backlinks. Trying to fake the quality of your site by paying someone to link to you will get you penalized – or banned – from Google.
Here are some legitimate ideas to get other sites to link you once you have built up a library of content:
- Offer it up! If you see an article out there that would benefit from linking to your article, there’s no harm in emailing the author to suggest it. Be careful not to be overbearing or annoying. Only do this when it genuinely makes sense.
- Offer up your link when you find a broken link. For example, if Martha Stewart has a link to an avocado toast recipe, but it goes to a dead page, I could email and suggest mine as a replacement. This helps the author or site owner fix a dead link while rewarding you for pointing it out.
- Write a guest post. This is something I plan to do for this site, so I’ll use it as an example. I intend to reach out to sites all about building profitable websites and see if I can contribute as a guest writer. They will get free, quality content and I’ll get a link back to my site for the readers who want to dive deeper.
There are a plethora of other ways, but the greater point here is that over time you’ll need backlinks to truly thrive.
But what else is important to Google? Your site’s presentation, and I don’t just mean making it pretty. Remember when I had you install the Yoast SEO plugin? This will give you the easiest ways to make sure your title, on-page content, thumbnail, meta description, and other factors are particularly fine-tuned for Google love.
Please don’t overthink it though. Take on-page SEO guidance with a grain of salt. There is no magic formula to put X number of keywords on a page or have exactly the right amount of words, and then you just sit back in a pile of money, having conquered the algorithm. It doesn’t work that way.
Bottom line: if you have fantastic content, discipline, and patience, you will get traffic from Google and you will make money.
Additional Google-Related Resources
- Google’s Very Own Starter Guide
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide To Search Engine Optimization
- 12 Strategies To Get Backlinks By SEMRush
Enticing your audience to give you their email address, then delivering value to them is a delicate balance, but, when you nail it, it’s the most valuable source of traffic to your content site.
I used to shake my head in 2012 when all the media elites in New York said email was dead. I was sitting on a 750,000 subscriber list that made over $75,000 per month. Shortly after, I built two more 250,000 subscriber lists. Then in 2016, I began creating one that is now over 3 million subscribers (I sold it when it was less than 1 million, so kudos to the team).
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the same media elites said, “Wow, email is awesome! Ya gotta have a list!” I don’t say any of this to brag – it’s a little bit to tell you to ignore what the elites say about the latest trends because they’re always too late, and it’s mostly to tell you to start your newsletter from day one.
It blows my mind how many webmasters I’ve talked to that have annoying email sign-up forms and actually don’t even send emails to the subscribers! This is actually a real, widespread thing. Everyone knows they should collect emails, but nobody knows what to do with them. Fortunately, you’re going to do it correctly from the start.
Advantages Of Newsletters
- You own a direct relationship with the subscriber.
- It’s far less susceptible to algorithm changes.
- User quality is extremely high.
- Revenue per user is significantly higher than other traffic sources.
Challenges Of Newsletters
- It can get expensive when your list is large.
- Spam filters can be fickle.
- It can take time to do it right.
- There’s a moderate technical challenge to getting set up properly.
How To Maximize Newsletter Traffic
A successful email list starts with actually getting subscribers. That won’t come until your site is getting traffic from other sources, but I’ll give my advice for when that time comes.
As tempting as it will be, and as much as you see it all around the web, do not pop a sign-up form in a reader’s face over top of your content. Yes, the numbers say that will increase sign-ups. But part of what I believe has made my websites more successful than others is treating each reader as a human. Sound obvious? You’d be surprised.
If my sign-up rate goes from 1% to 3%, but my annoyance rate goes from 10% to 60%, do I really win here? What is the opportunity cost of annoying people by interrupting their reader experience? They’re probably less likely to share my content, less likely to click it in the future, and less likely to have a positive connotation with my brand.
Additionally, it has always boggled my mind that website owners will ask for a newsletter sign-up BEFORE the person has read the content. Can you imagine if I walked into a store for the first time and, on my way in, someone asked me if I’d like to sign up for future deals? My reaction would be, “I don’t know right now, leave me alone. I’m here to browse your store and, if I love it here, I’d love a deal in the future. I’ll let you know.” And even if they are pushy and convince me, they just put an enormous burden on themselves to impress me later all the while hoping I’m about to enjoy the store. It just doesn’t make sense.
Impress your visitor first, and then naturally lead into a sign-up form that explains what they can expect to receive in the future. I will be writing articles on all kinds of newsletter-related topics and I’ll provide some resources here. But generally, you probably aren’t quite ready to tackle the actual setup yet anyway. I just want you to start thinking of email as the opportunity it is, if approached correctly.
But let’s move forward: now you have subscribers who you’ve already impressed, and they want more. Put why they signed up at the forefront of your mind. Another common mistake is getting a subscriber by showing them X and then sending them Y. For example, if someone signs up for my newsletter after reading my tutorial on how to build a greenhouse, they likely want more content around greenhouses, gardening, and so on. If I send them an email with tips on how to decorate your living room, I’m probably going to get an unsubscriber or, even worse, marked as spam.
Send them a clean-looking, personal email with relevant content that sounds like you’re just talking to a friend.
Thanks again for signing up. I have been working super hard on the site and wanted to share this latest article I wrote. I really think it’ll help you with X, Y, and Z!
What I love about Internet Marketing is that it pretty much just requires you to be a human. Tell people things they want to hear, and they’ll listen to you. Offer people things they want to buy, and they’ll buy it. It’s surreal how much some marketers complicate things and end up with a mess that looks like an alien tried to understand humans and sound like one.
While this is a very basic rundown of successful email marketing, it really is the guts of it. Impress someone enough that they’ll give you their email address, and then continue to impress them with your unique personality and content.
Again, I will be writing more articles on the details of getting set up, but, in a nutshell, you need what’s called an ESP – Email Service Provider. There are a whole lot of them: MailChimp, ConstantContact, Aweber. They’re all honestly pretty good, but I’ve always used GetResponse.
Whichever you sign up for, they all offer about the same thing. You can create your welcome emails, craft new messages, and manage your subscriber lists. For now, check out these resources for more information.
Additional Email Resources
From 2010 to 2019, my Facebook-oriented websites brought in tens of millions in revenue. I would be lying if I said it didn’t change my life. But the love-hate relationship with the platform is why I would never recommend starting a new site with a Facebook-first approach. Treat Facebook as a huge opportunity that probably won’t pan out, probably won’t ever be stable, but could be enormous… or at least worth your time.
Update: as I’ve been writing this guide, a leaked internal memo was released publicly. The long and short of it is that they want to become more like TikTok. Or, at the very least, Instagram. Where does this put content creators who have websites? It’s hard to tell, but it’s just another reason to build on Facebook with caution and never get addicted to the traffic.
Advantages Of Facebook
- You can go viral. REALLY viral.
- Depending on your topic, there still exists a very valuable and large audience.
- You can interact directly with your audience.
Challenges Of Facebook
- The News Feed tends to favor friends and family, not publishers.
- It’s really unpredictable with a history of sites being decimated overnight.
How To Maximize Facebook Traffic
Quick story time. In 2010, I was the first (as far as I know) person to begin fine-tuning the presentation of my Facebook link posts. Back then, when you pasted a link in, it would automatically grab a random image and your on-site title. Often, this resulted in a post that had a bad quality image and a boring headline. It barely stood out at all.
So that’s when I coded the ability to add a custom image and headline to each of my posts, giving Facebook a beautiful presentation of my link. This allowed it to stand out above everything else in the feed, which meant a whole lot more clicks. As the next 3 years went on, I fully optimized this process with Viral Nova – my website that peaked at $450,000 per month. Inevitably, the media world lost its mind because one guy in a spare bedroom was doing more traffic than large media operations with hundreds of employees. This led to the formula being copied across the industry. Like anything that gains traction fast, bad actors entered the scene and began creating fake news and using other tactics to exploit it.
But here’s the thing – Facebook has largely caught up with how to combat the shady sites, and the original strategy still works today. When I sold my last company in 2019 for $2,000,000, it had 10,000,000 Facebook fans across 50+ pages and received around half a million visits per day. The content is high quality, the headlines are clickable but reasonable, and the website is just… really, really good. So it still works!
How do you get started on Facebook?
First, you’ll need to create a Page on Facebook that represents your website. This is where you’ll post your content, but how do you grow the Page and what do you post?
While you might find other sites that list 5,000 ways to grow your followers, realistically there are two ways that have a real impact:
- Buy them through Facebook (never, ever buy followers from any third party).
- Post content that finds virality outside of your Page.
Virtually every Facebook-first site I started, I didn’t post any links to my websites for months. I focused on building the following through interesting, shareable photos and information. This was my formula in a nutshell:
Launch a $10/day “like” campaign to get fans —> Feed them viral content —> Continue snowballing
Once the Page would reach a certain level, content would begin branching outside of my actual fans, which led to new fans. Soon, $10/day would go from 100 new likes per day to 200 and so on. Then, at some point when I had built a strong base of users who love and expect great content, I’d start to post one link per day to a great article on my website. Without any problem at all, these users would click and read, which is what makes money.
When a great article gets the first burst of readership on Facebook through your fans, it now has the opportunity to be shared en masse and sent into virality… and that’s where the real money is made.
But what do you post? Start by using the same mindset you’re in when it comes to your website’s articles: quality that stands above everyone else. The good news for you is that most social media managers are just going through the motions, throwing something up, and watching 1 or 2 likes trickle in. It’s a completely useless strategy that just doesn’t work yet every company feels like they need to do it.
Like most of this guide, I’ll be writing a whole lot more, but for now, I’m attaching some relevant resources to get you on the right path. These articles will help you apply my formula above.
Additional Facebook Resources
Other Quality Traffic Sources
So, I have to tell the truth here. I’ve never actually built a site with Pinterest in mind, yet I’ve had two completely different websites receive 30,000 visits per day (almost a million a month because #math) from the platform. While I can’t claim to be a Pinterest expert, it’s a great testament to both the platform and my content strategies. It says that creating great content alone can mean big traffic from Pinterest. But let’s make sure your site is best positioned to maximize Pinterest traffic from the beginning.
Pinterest is great because it favors evergreen (always relevant) content, traffic tends to grow over time rather than be subjected to virality, and it’s fantastic for sites that use a lot of visual media. Of course, it doesn’t come without challenges. Some content just doesn’t work on the platform at all, and the algorithm has decimated sites overnight. But it’s worth considering from day one.
The first thing you want to do is get set up properly. Here are the steps you should take along with helpful guides on how to do it.
- Create a business account: this is important so you can actually use the Pinterest analytics to monitor your performance.
- Claim your website: this is how you verify to Pinterest that you own your site, so only you can see the performance.
- Personalize your profile: make it look good!
- Use Yoast: the plugin I had you install in guide 2 will help you ensure pins from your site look great.
- Allow readers to “Save” directly from your website: by using a plugin, you can allow Pinterest users to save your content to their boards directly on your site.
Once you’re actually set up, you should create relevant boards and get in the habit of pinning your content (articles) to it right after you’re finished. Additionally, there are ways to create Pinterest-specific images that do incredibly well. They’re generally word-heavy and enticing. BeFunky has a good article on how to do this properly.
I plan to learn Pinterest much better over time and update this article accordingly.
When I first began creating websites in the early 2000s, direct traffic was everything. Remember bookmarking sites? Yeah, me either, but it actually was a primary way to get visitors to return.
Once the Tech Giants officially overtook the Internet, creating “hubs” that branch out to all the smaller websites, it became less relevant than ever. In the past week, you or someone you know has probably said, “Yeah, I read that on Google.” They probably didn’t; they read it on a website that Google recommended in the search results.
Internet users just don’t have the brain capacity to care about very many individual sites. That being said, showing personality and having a memorable brand will help out here. For example, I hope that if you love this article you’re on right now, you’ll be more likely in the future to think “ahh, who was that jabronie that helped me? Scott DeLong? I’ll go back to his site for this new thing I want to understand.”
In all honesty, it probably won’t happen often, but it does happen.
I don’t recommend even going down this road. Paid traffic is generally only beneficial if you’re selling a product. In 2014, I used to spend thousands of dollars per month promoting articles on Facebook because their system actually made it possible to still profit. It’s really just not the case anymore, and it certainly isn’t on Google.
Where paid can be great is acquiring actual subscribers. If I have to pay 25 cents for a visitor one time, I just lost 24 cents. If I pay 25 cents for a visitor and get their email address, I can reach them over and over. It starts to make more sense.
Recapping How To Increase Website Visitors
Okay, so we know that Google, Email, and Facebook are your primary traffic drivers. We know that quality content is king. And we know there are strategies to better position yourself for each of these platforms. And we know that you should have all of them in mind from day one.
Without a doubt, this guide only scratches the surface. But it was meant to get you in the right state so that you’ll maximize traffic for the long term and protect yourself from the inevitable changes coming your way. I want you to be thinking of your content as the nucleus of your business, and these platforms are all ripe to receive it.
I will continue to update this guide as time goes on, adding more resources and deeper strategies. But now let’s move onto the simplest, most effective way to monetize your website.