The latest social media fads may come and go, but some strategies for attracting an audience online will always be in style.
Here are 42 of my favorite timeless ideas for attracting more visitors to your website. You can bet the farm on these. They’ll be as effective in five years as they are today.
Make Your Content Irresistible
- All the promotion in the world won’t build a thriving audience if your content sucks. Truly incredible content, products or services can be your best marketing tool. Everything you do online has to start with creating something incredible.
- Don’t be afraid to say what everyone else is thinking but not saying. Other people are probably thinking about it too, and they’ll love you for being brave enough to say something.
- Write epic shit.
- While you’re at it, make a real case for why the world should actually give a shit about what you have to say.
- Put your words in a different format. Go visual. Try creating an infographic or slideshare presentation.
- Go big. Write something so incredibly thorough and valuable that people are compelled to share it.
- Interview someone exciting. You’ll learn something and the interviewee will probably share your session if you do a great job.
- Learn how to create a viral post, and try creating one yourself as many of our readers like Maria, Benny, Steve and Jim have done.
- Cut out the fluff. Publish when you have something worthwhile to share, not when your calendar says you’re supposed to publish.
- Headlines! Headlines! Headlines! They’re ridiculously important. Enough said. Try these 5 easy tips for writing catchy headlines from Jeff Goins.
- Give away your secrets. All of them.
Take Your Show on The Road
- Be everywhere (as my friend Pat Flynn likes to say). Make videos, create a podcast, represent on different social media platforms.
- Write guest articles for other blogs. This is still one of the most effective and underused strategies for building your own audience. Just do it and stop making excuses. Start with this complete overview of how to land guest posting spots by Glen Allsopp.
- Join Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Do a good job and you might just end up on the front page of Yahoo like our friend Jaime Tardy did.
Make Your Case Clear
- When someone comes to your site, you have to answer the question they’ll be asking themselves: “why should I spend any time on this site instead of one of the dozens of other sites I already know and love?” You have to answer this question quickly, clearly and compellingly. Your Unique Selling Proposition is the key to making your case. If you don’t have a USP, it’s time to get one. Start with our guide to finding your USP.
Keep Them Coming Back
- The best audience is a captive one. Instead of constantly relying on other sources of traffic, create your own by getting your visitors to subscribe for updates from you (focus on email first, social media second).
- Directly ask people to subscribe once in a while. Tell ‘em what’s in it for them.
- Create special subscriber-only content.
- In your welcome email for new subscribers, point them to your social media profiles so they can connect with you in different ways.
- Optimize the heck out of your email sign-up offer. Try placing email sign-up boxes in different places (in your header, sidebar, within posts, end of posts or footer). Try changing the wording, button label, call to action and offer. See what works best over time. Just keep the best interests of your audience in mind and don’t do anything you don’t appreciate yourself.
Make it Pretty(ier) and More Functional
- Your site’s design matters more than you think. If you have a crappy looking design, you’re missing out because too many of your hard earned visitors are leaving before they read your incredible content.
- Design for function. What do you want your site to achieve? You want to hook your visitors and keep them coming back. Design with the end goal in mind.
- Use social proof. New visitors are looking for clues about whether your site is worth spending time on. Use validation (in the form of metrics, testimonials, “as seen in” logos, etc.) to reinforce your value.
- Make it easy for people to share your content (try using a plugin like Digg Digg, for example).
Play Nice with the Search Engines (SEO)
- Optimize your headline and content URL for the search engines. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find popular keywords. Don’t worry about optimizing your content. Write for humans like normal but use keywords in your headline and content URL.
- Make sure your site is Google friendly. Offer a sitemap, use an SEO-optimized platform (or plugin) and register for Google Webmaster Tools.
- Focus on optimized content instead of link-building for long-term SEO success.
- Make your site as fast as possible. Site speed is now a factor in search rankings, and a faster site will keep more people from leaving before your page loads. Consider moving to a faster webhost and leverage caching (if you’re on WordPress try using a caching plugin like Quick Cache).
Borrow What Works
- Innovation is important, but using proven formulas is smart and effective. Don’t be afraid to borrow from what you’ve seen work elsewhere. Try to figure out how other sites are bringing in visitors and try their techniques. Don’t copy directly, just tweak things to suit your own needs and audience. (For example, thanks to Chris Brogan for the inspiration for this post)
- Your own successes can be borrowed upon as well. Look through your old content and think about your most successful strategies. Reuse what works until it doesn’t work any longer.
- Use past behavior to predict future results.
Organize Group Projects
- Organize a group writing project. Each blogger writes on a central theme, and each article links to all the others in the series.
- Start a social media promotion group. Invite people you respect. Each person can submit content for others in the group to Tweet, Like, etc. only if it’s a good fit. Organize this for free using Google Groups.
- Organize a group survey in your niche.
Make a Splash
- The best way to rise above the noise of the billions and billions of pieces of content being shared every day is to do something remarkable.
- Create a big ambitious group project and invite your readers to participate.
- Set a big audacious goal for yourself and report on your progress over the months or years it takes you to get there. Chris Guillebeau is visiting every country in the world by his 35th birthday, for example. That’s a story worth tuning into.
Launch a Product or Service
- Did you know that launching a new product or service can actually help grow your audience? It’s true. Launching a product also always leads to tons of interview requests, links from other blogs, partnership inquiries, and a different kind of respect from colleagues. Plus, because your new product will generate revenue, this should be top on your list.
- Offer an affiliate program and pay commissions to people who refer customers to your product. Reach out to these affiliates before your launch and offer to help them with content, interviews, webinars or anything else that will help them drive sales. You’ll be getting access to a whole group of customers you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Make Friends in High Places
- The most consistent source of highly desirable visitors you can tap into are links for other respected sites in your niche. To attract these links on a regular basis, you need to 1) create remarkable link-worthy content and 2) make friends with other great content creators who could link to you. Just don’t make connecting with people online harder than it actually is.
- Link out freely to content you admire and think your audience would appreciate. Linking out is one of the best ways to get noticed and start making friends online. Make sure you include the name of the site or content author you’re linking to increase the chances of the author learning about your link.
- Try creating a “follow friday” or “link love wednesday” type of post on a regular basis. It’s a great way to get noticed, make friends and share useful content with your audience.