Let’s imagine for a moment that Google is out of business. No, wait, that’s too drastic. But let’s pretend that a future algorithm change wipes your website out, and you’re not ranking even for your brand name. Still a bit drastic (sorry about that) – but now that your website isn’t ranking anymore, are you out of business? Are you now this guy who didn’t know how he was going to put food on the table after the Google Penguin hit and how to recover from the Google Penguin penalty? If you are playing only on SEO card, you probably are.
But don’t worry, there is a solution, and a pretty obvious one too. That thing in your Google Analytics called “Referral Traffic” – remember? People were visiting websites even before Google, Yahoo and other search engines existed. There were website directories, and there was typing the address of a website directly into the browser. Thankfully, today we have a lot more options, and some of them are really, really great traffic sources. Let’s take a look at some of them.
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Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, recently Pinterest, are able to bring in enormous amounts of visitors. One person who shares your content with their audience the right way is sometimes (rarely, but it happens) all it takes for your post to go viral, and if you did a good job with your website, you can grow the number of loyal readers fast. These sites also allow you to interact with the community, to present your new posts and participate in discussions, just remember your platform: Facebook and Twitter are more casual, LinkedIn promotes a more professional atmosphere, and the Pinterest people are interested in pretty images, so behave accordingly.
2. Bookmarking Sites
StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg are only the famous ones, there is a ton of others you can explore. Although it may seem that bookmarking sites aren’t as hot as they used to be, if you play your cards right (meaning bookmark other content apart from your own, network, choose what to promote), they are still very powerful.
3. Email lists
Do you have an opt-in box on your website? Building an email list will not only allow you to let your subscribers know you published a new post, but it can also boost your sales up (by recommending a product with your affiliate link in the email). Of course, there are rules to follow here, you don’t want to be an email spammer but to build a long term relationship with your audience.
4. Q/A sites
Yahoo! Answers, Quora, Answers.com are communities where you can answer other people’s questions and establish yourself as an expert. You don’t have to place a link to your post every time you answer a question (actually, you shouldn’t do it), a link to your website in your profile will do: people who recognize you as a credible source will naturally want to know more about you, so they will check your profile. When you do leave the link in your answer, make sure it’s highly relevant to the context – these sites have very strict anti-spamming rules.
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5. Guest posts
We usually talk about guest posts in context of link building and SEO, but a great post on a website with real audience can provide you with more than just a link: people who like what you wrote often go and check your website, especially when your website is closely related to the one they are frequently visiting.
Participating in forum discussions has similar rules as participating on Q/A sites: be present, be helpful, give brilliant answers, start discussions, all the things that will help you establish credibility. Most forums allow signatures in your posts, so people don’t need to check your profile to find the link to your website.
7. Web Directories
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. But we’re talking about quality niche directories that are well established and people are actually using them (yes, some people still use directories). The amount of traffic that you’ll get from them won’t be enormous, but it will be targeted. And since we’re talking about “bye-bye Google” scenario, every little source of traffic is welcome.
In short, find where your target audience is, and start interacting with them. Of course, it’s even better yet to use these traffic sources along with search engine optimization. If you have some additional tips, we’d love to hear them!