As you might already know, Susanna and I (The Social Ms) specialize in getting web traffic to your content. You cannot deny that getting more web traffic is one of the most important parts of any online marketing endeavor – maybe even the most important one. How could anyone ever expect to sell anything online without getting his products to know their product first?
But there are good ways, and there are wrong ways to achieve that goal. You can get web traffic the right way – and you can get web traffic the wrong way. Now, the difference between right and wrong from a marketing standpoint is not whether what you do is morally right or wrong; you have to make the decision whether what you do is morally acceptable on your own.
The difference between right or wrong from a marketing stand point is whether it will get you the results you need. And there are some online marketing “techniques” that will never get you the results you need.
Some of these might give you short-term results – but the web traffic you will get from them will never be ready to convert. Others may give you the same short-term results – but will hurt your reputation indefinitely. The most harmless of the marketing “measures” in the following list will do no harm – but will frustrate you until you are ready to give up because you won’t be getting any results at all.
So here we go: 12 traffic generation mistakes you shouldn’t make. I have sorted these into the categories of Social Media, SEO and Content Marketing since I regard these as the main pillars of online marketing.
Social media is where the most drastic and most obvious mistakes in traffic generation to websites happen. The reason for that is that social media activities are usually public – and mistakes are visible to everyone.
1. Repost Pure Sales Messages Without Providing Value
This one may just be the most common reason why so many sales people fail at social media. Without a sales message people won’t buy your product – so what you do is repost that same sales message over and over again.
Here is the thing: Social media marketing works by providing value – and sales messages seldom provide value on its own. Even if they do, repeating the same message over and over again makes it less valuable – if I have already seen your message, the value is gone. I won’t click your link twice, you won’t get more web traffic.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never post a sales message – but for social media marketing to work, you need to make sure that percentage of sales content within your social streams is small. Your stream needs to provide value to its audience before you can use it to sell to that same audience.
2. Trying to get users attention without providing value first
I get this on Twitter a lot. People following me, then sending me multiple mentions or tweets asking me to follow back.
I’m not against following people to get their attention – but I’m against asking people to follow back without giving a reason. If you want anyone to follow you on any social network, you need to give him/her a reason to do so.
The best reason you can give a total stranger to follow you is by providing value with your social stream. Without that value, you won’t get far ins social media marketing.
Summary: You have very few chances of getting attention (and therefore more web traffic) if you don’t provide something of value.
3. Impolite behavior, insults, being a troll
Some people try to create attention on social media by becoming a nuisance. One of the most common forms of this is by insulting people who didn’t follow them, but it reaches extreme heights when someone tries to use a behavior known as “trolling” to gain web traffic.
The social web is full of people who have heard that old marketing wisdom “There is no bad publicity” and try to adapt it to the social web. Sadly that simply doesn’t work: If you’re lucky than all you get is a shitstorm that just hurts your brand. If you’re unlucky, you will lose your account.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule – but whether this one turns a profit even for Donald Trump remains to be seen – if you are not Trump, you will clearly not get more web traffic by being a troll.
Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2015
4. Feeding the troll won’t get you more web traffic
“Don’t feed the troll!” should be above every social media managers desk in bold letters. Just as much as you shouldn’t become a troll to gain popularity on the web, you shouldn’t feed the troll that is attacking you.
The problem here is that trolls have a way of luring you in: They might start off with some easy critique – that you will of course answer as you always do. Then they will draw you in, becoming insulting, pull more people into the discussion, etc… When you finally realize that you are the victim of a troll, it may be too late, and the damage is already done.
Don’t miss that point where the whole conversation turns sour – and simply stop feeding the troll. Everything you say is food – just stop the conversation. Report the troll if you can, but don’t give him more food he can use in his fight against you.
5. Trying to be active on every network at once
Ok, social media marketing is to be active on social media. That doesn’t mean that you need to be active on every network at the same time.
When you do that, you will find yourself drowning in work without getting the results you need.
A far better approach is to carefully select just a couple of networks that fit your needs best. You can always widen your approach later on, but for the start, try to achieve results on 2 or 3 networks. Don’t try to do everything at once, do a few things right first!
6. Using clickbait WITHOUT value
You will find a lot of criticism online about clickbait sites like Upworthy or Buzzfeed. These sites optimize their posts, so they achieve more shares, AND they optimize their headlines, so they achieve more clicks.
However, while many people claim the opposite, these sites still provide value to their audience. And value is the main part of any clickbait strategy: Without value people might click on a post, but they won’t share it. And if the initial viewer clicks but never shares, your post will not spread.
That is the secret of clickbait, optimizing your headlines won’t make your posts more valuable.
Of course, optimizing your headlines is still a valuable exercise, just don’t forget that part of the clickbait equation is value.
Let’s move on to SEO – one of the main ways to get traffic on the web. Not everybody will want to go for SEO traffic – and that is ok. But even though you might not want to focus your activities on SEO you will still need to do some SEO. You will need to do some keyword research to find keywords that are of interest to your audience, some content optimization so that it at least doesn’t hurt your natural link profile. Here are some big mistakes you can do with SEO:
7. Unnatural Link Profiles: Massive amounts of bought links
It still is a prominent SEO strategy to buy links to your website on other websites. And in the short term, these might still work. You may still find at least some success with buying links from shady SEO companies – in the short term you might get more traffic.
But: At some point, they will backfire. Google may simply downrank you, or even strike you from their index. I’ve seen this happen.
A better approach to link building is to do it manually – providing guest posts to bloggers, answering questions, etc… This type of SEO, which is taught by high-level SEOs like Neil Patel for instance, does still work.
The reason it is better than buying links is that Google is after natural link profiles. Organically growing sites that build their audience in relation to their backlinks.
8. Expecting your SEO to do itself
Some people still believe that creating content on the web should be everything you need to do for SEO. Well, that might have been true in the early days of Google – but even back then it was still beneficial to do some SEO manually. Today, doing some keyword research for your content, creating some backlinks and optimizing your content is necessary if you truly want to claim that you are active in SEO.
9. Spamming bloggers with link requests
So we have established that you need to do some link building manually? Well, the solution to that problem is not as simple as the following:
- Aggregate a huge list of blogs
- Mass email all of these bloggers with the request to link to your site
- Get some links to your blog
The Social Ms is a social media blog – yet, I have received emails telling me “that, since your site is about financial products,” we should link to a specific piece of content about binary options… WTF?
Don’t do that. It won’t get you more web traffic, just a bad reputation.
If you want bloggers to link to you, that can be done. You just have to offer something in return. One of the best ways to generate links on specific blogs is to write guest posts for instance.
Now let’s move on to the 3rd pillar of online marketing: Content marketing.
Content marketing is the art of creating content that is valuable to your audience and by doing that building your brand. Content marketing is a great strategy when executed right. But there are also a lot of things that can turn sour. If I had a dime for everyone who ever told me that content marketing “doesn’t work for them,” I would be rich.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that can happen in content marketing:
10. Mistake content marketing for SEO
Some people mistake content marketing for SEO, which then makes them create many pieces of content that don’t read well, provide little real value, but are “optimized” with many keywords.
These content pieces never fare well in SEO – even search engines measure how well an audience reacts to a piece of content.
When you are doing that this shows that you have completely misunderstood the concept of content marketing – content marketing is not there to help your SEO, content marketing is there to create valuable content that makes your audience love you. SEO is there to make your already valuable traffic more visible to search engines.
Again: Value = more web traffic.
11. Expecting your content to rise to the top and generate massive traffic without further distribution
Part of any effective content marketing strategy is a distribution strategy. You cannot simply produce a few pieces of content, put them on a blog and wait for the pageviews to come in. That just won’t work.
When you go for content marketing, you need to figure out how your content will reach the eyes and ears of your audience. Part of that can be SEO, another part of your distribution efforts can be social media.
Or, if you are offline, maybe a vital part of your content distribution efforts can be mailings?
But not having a content distribution strategy won’t get you far with content marketing.
12. Expecting massive results from very few content pieces
Once I spoke to someone working at an agency for web development. He told me that they tried marketing themselves via content and decided that content marketing wasn’t for them because they didn’t reach any new client after publishing one (yes, just one) guest article on a niche online magazine.
Expecting content marketing to do wonders in a very short amount of time is a very common mistake that many marketers make. You won’t get a lot of web traffic by publishing one guest post; you won’t generate massive amounts of SEO traffic to your first blog post. More web traffic takes some time to achieve!
Content marketing is a strategy that is built for the long run, not quick successes. But it is a very powerful approach nevertheless.
Now, did you like this list? Are you guilty of some of these mistakes yourself? What were the results, did you get more web traffic, or did you drown? I know I did a lot of these myself when I started out online! And I did have to cope with the results.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to shake myself and prevent some of the mistakes I did. But I can’t – so I hope that this post will prevent some of you from doing just the same mistakes I did in a different time and a different place!
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