5 Options (Beyond Content and SEO) for Driving Website Traffic

Traffic seen as streaks of colorful light going through a tunnel at night.
Photo by kehn hermano at pexels.com

Designing and building a great website is never enough. You also have to make sure people are aware of your site, want to go there, and, once there, want to stay or come back later. There are many ways you can drive traffic to a website and, depending on which ways you choose, the process can be a little bit of an art and a science.

Good content and search engine optimization (SEO) are 2 ways that account for driving a majority of traffic to most sites – good content being the art as it is, to a certain extent, in the eyes of the beholder and SEO being the science of understanding what search engines require to rank your site higher in relevant results.

But let’s look beyond these efforts to other options. Not because good content and SEO aren’t things you should work on – they are absolute necessities – but because there are additional opportunities that can give you a leg up on the competition if you do them well in conjunction with good content and SEO.

Email Marketing

We all get A LOT of emails and even though they can annoy us we still open some of them and I’d bet some of those once open still pique our interest enough to make us click on a link. This is why email still works for driving site traffic.

While emails can be a thing unto themselves in which we simply send messages and information back and forth as individuals, for brands emails are very much supportive of and supported by websites. Websites offer an opportunity to collect email leads for remarketing, while emails funnel users back to curated pages on a site.

Old Navy may be one of the brands most notorious for heavy email marketing. Take a look at the example below of how they’ve established an efficient cycle of using email to drive return traffic to their site.

Pop Up box on Old Navy webpage with picture of 2 women smiling and offering a 20% off coupon for signing up for email notifications.
Pop up email sign-up offer on oldnavy.com

Upon visiting their site, this pop-up message appears after a couple of seconds. It’s obviously asking me to sign up for their email list, but they are softening the ask by making it part of a transaction for a 20% off coupon (more about the use of incentives later).

Screenshot of Old Navy email featuring offers and a woman smiling for the camera in a pink shirt and jeans
Old Navy email

Once you’re on their email list they start sending emails that look like the one above. Notice all the discount offers and featured items. It’s easy with this content to just click on something out of curiosity. What starts with “hmm, I wonder if that comes in yellow” quickly leads to you scrolling through an entire page of their products. You may have had no reason to visit oldnavy.com, but that email gave you one.

Social Media Posts and Ads

Like emails, social media posts and ads can be good tools for driving return traffic to a website too. They can also, though, be a tactic for introducing your site and driving initial visits to it because of how you can strategically target just the right users for your site on these platforms. Take the post below, for example.

Facebook ad from Squarespace that says "Learn how to create a resume website that will help you land the job of your dreams." with a green image featuring hand holding a rose and saying "How to build an online resume and make a great first impression."
Facebook ad from Squarespace

I was fed this ad on Facebook recently. I vaguely know that Squarespace is a popular app for website building, but I’ve never been to the brand’s website or researched them. I’m probably got this ad because I use one of their main competitors: WordPress. Regardless, the article they offered in the ad was intriguing enough in topic to get me to click.

Related articles section at the end of a Squarespace article

Once I was on the site and found their article information helpful, I discovered more suggested blog posts I was interested in, started to see this site and this brand as a helpful resource, and then they strategically asked me to subscribe to get more helpful blog posts. Subscribing, of course, got me on their email list, where they can now engage in the same process I talked about with Old Navy.

Screenshot of Sqaurespace's black and white website with the word Subscribe and a field for entering email.
Subscribe to email section call to action at the end of a Squarespace article.

Without this social media ad, I would never have thought to have gone to Squarespace’s website, even for the informative blogs they offer. Out of sight, out of mind. But social media brought it into sight and now not only will they be able to remarket to me via email, but I might just remember them as a good resource the next time I need help with my website, prompting a return visit of my own accord.

Community Engagement

Another way social media can be helpful in driving traffic is through the use of communities such as subreddits and Facebook Groups dedicated to a topic related to your site. Sometimes brands will publish content or respond to people in these communities with relevant information that just happens to drive them to the brand’s website.

However, brands can also create and manage communities giving them potentially more opportunities to use these to drive traffic to their sites. Although, being too heavy-handed with links or self-promotion in these settings can be a turn-off, so balance here is key to maintain the authenticity people prefer on social media.

Screenshot of a Facebook group page titled The Social Marketers' Exchange by Sprout Social with a navy blue cover image with the group's name and white swirling lines and blue, green, and purple dots.
Facebook group run by Sprout Social

The Social Marketers’ Exchange, a Facebook Group run by the popular social media management software company Spout Social, is a good example of how to do this well. The public group has over 5,000 members who work in social media and use it as a place for advice, research, and industry comradery.

Screenshot of Facebook post by a man named Joe Huber welcoming new members to Sprout Social's Facebook group.
Example community-building post in Sprout Social’s Facebook group from a group moderator

The posts above and below are from one of the group’s moderators. The one above is more social in nature welcoming new members and creating a sense of community. The two below are clearly relevant content to the group but simultaneously drive traffic back to Sprout’s website. Even though many of the members of this group are users of Sprout Social’s platform it’s still beneficial to encourage them to visit the site to foster deeper engagement and loyalty to the brand.

Screenshot of post in Facebook group from moderator Joe Huber sharing an announcment about the Sprout Spotlight awards and link to Sprout Social's website. Post has picture of bearded man to the left and picture of woman talking to man in video call to the right.
Example of Facebook post in group driving traffic
Screenshot of moderator Joe Huber's response to a post in the Facebook group from a user named Beckie Eschle. Huber's response features a link to sprout social website
Example of reply to a post in Facebook group that drives traffic

Internal Linking

Efforts to drive traffic are not limited to just tactics that push users onto your website, but also what pushes them to other pages on your website and causes them to spend more time overall on your site. Internal linking is the practice of placing links to other pages on your site within the content on a page.

This is notably helpful if you have a blog, like the social media management software company Hootsuite does, and you’re mentioning something in a post that you’ve previously written about. Not only can this offer readers a quick reference and more context for what they are engaging with, but it also drives them to another page on your site.

I use Hootsuite as an example because I’m often reading their posts for my work and inevitably I’ll enter the site to read one specific article and leave after having read or scanned at least 2 additional ones.

Screenshot of the header and opening paragraphs of a post on Hootsuite's blog. The text has 5 phrases in blue instead of black representing hyperlinks included in the article.
Blog post from Hootsuite featuring internal linking

Just look at the screenshot above featuring the opening section for a post titled “15 Instagram Stories Apps to Help You Create Thumb-Stopping Content.” Every one of those blue hyperlinks in the text in the lower half of the image goes to another post on their site which also has internal links in it. That’s 5 opportunities to send a user to another page on the site they may never have known existed. You could go down the rabbit hole reading for hours on Hootsuite’s blog if you’re not careful.

Incentives

I referenced incentives earlier when talking about Old Navy’s email strategy. The discount offer they used to encourage email signup is one type of incentive for driving website traffic, but there are others such as gated content, polls, quizzes, giveaways, sweepstakes, contests, and competitions.

Screenshot of Food Network's website page for entering a giveaway. Top header photo features a white and red brick wall and says "All-Star Best Thing I Ever Ate Giveaway" and there are empty fields to complete an entry below it.
Giveaway entry page on Food Network’s website

Currently, Food Network is running the All-Star Best Thing I Ever Ate Giveaway in which viewers of their programming have to watch the show All-Star Best Thing I Ever Ate every week to get a code that they must then enter on the network’s website to complete an entry in the contest. TV networks tell viewers all the time about their websites and advertise their URLs but this is giving viewers an incentive to actually take action and visit.

Viewers might be driven initially to the website simply to enter the contest, but once they are there there’s a good chance they will discover another reason to hang around longer or a reason to come back. This segment of traffic, although familiar with the brand, may never have been driven to this site had Food Network not created this giveaway contest and made visiting their site a requirement to enter.

Through these entries, they also happen to be collecting email addresses as well which brings it all back to the first tactic mentioned on this list.

Get the Traffic Flowing

Not every option listed here for driving traffic will make sense for your brand and your site. Some may be regular efforts like building and engaging your email list and some may be special occasion efforts like offering a coupon or sweepstakes.

Some, like nurturing a social media community, may seem unmanageable with your resources and others, like social media posts, you are probably already planning and budgeting for without realizing these are tools for driving traffic. All that’s important is that you are actively building routes to your website instead of leaving your site’s traffic up to chance.


References

Donelly, K. (2016, July 25). 5 high-impact strategies for getting more traffic. Shopify. Retrieved from https://www.shopify.com/blog/how-to-increase-website-traffic

Dunn, J. (2014, July 29). 10 ways to drive traffic to your website. GoDaddy. Retrieved from https://www.godaddy.com/garage/10-ways-drive-traffic-website/

Patel, N. How to increase your website traffic without SEO. NeilPatel.com. Retrieved from https://neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-increase-website-traffic-without-seo/

Riserbato, R. (2020, June 2). 27 ways to drive traffic to your website. HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/increase-website-traffic

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