Google is the authority when it comes to search rankings. Like most everyone else, chances are your digital marketing team goes into panic mode and works a little bit harder every time the search engine giant changes or updates its algorithm.
All of this begs the question, though: Are there other ways to generate traffic and boost a website’s online presence without relying heavily on Google?
The Dependence on Google
It’s always nice to get traffic to your site. Unfortunately, most of the time, you don’t have much control over traffic generation. You’re in the backseat and Google is behind the wheel. You likely base your SEO efforts mostly around the search engine.
For example, fluctuations in the search results of Penguin-hit sites recently had webmasters and marketers scrambling and bracing for a new update, only to find out there was no Penguin update. This just shows that digital marketers are always on their toes when it comes to anything concerning the search engine and its algorithms. With the more than 500 or so changes per year that Google makes, who wouldn’t be?
The point is that not following the algorithms and rules set by the search engine giant could lead to your worst nightmare: not being found or seen on the search engine results pages.
What Can You Do?
Everyone tries to keep up with these changes and updates, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up the driver’s seat completely and ride shotgun all the time.
There are ways you can generate traffic without having Google drive it for you. Here are some of the time-tested ways you can do just that.
10 Ways to Get Traffic Without Google
1. Be an Expert and Learn to Share
Many people thought guest blogging was being kicked to the curb after Matt Cutts blogged about “the decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”
It’s not dead, though. What the Google executive meant was that, “if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
Proper guest blogging is not about getting links — it’s about driving traffic. Having your posts published on a popular blog or website makes you an authority in the niche and promotes your brand in a subtle way.
Guest blogging to gain links has become a spammy practice, but as Cutts explains, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”
2. Give Your Insights, and Talk to the Audience
Blog commenting has long been seen as a spammy practice because many marketers use it for link building. Don’t forget, though, that the purpose of commenting isn’t to post your links anywhere you can; it’s supposed to add value to the topic, start or provide insights to the conversation, and expand your network.
Proper blog commenting goes well beyond the overused, “Great article, thanks!” comment that often has an ulterior motive. Instead, you should look for ways where your knowledge, insight, and expertise can add value to the conversation. Remember that you’re still talking to humans.
Make sure you read the article thoroughly, and that you understood it before dropping a comment. Much like guest blogging, making smart, informed comments on industry-related blogs presents you as a subject-matter expert. It also boosts your online exposure.
If ever you’re going to drop a link, make sure it directs to an article, and not the homepage of your site. Also, the article you link should be relevant to your comment and the article.
3. Go Out and Socialize
Google+, for instance, can help you get a lot of traffic. You don’t even need followers; its power lies in the G+ communities. Just like with forums, Google+ communities helps you find niche communities where you can join and grow your network. Engaging with other users, sharing useful information, and giving +1s to other people’s posts helps you become an active, trusted community member. Getting fellow members to click through your posts and visit your site will then become easier, as they already recognize you as an authority, or at least a trusted person. You can then also post links on related blog posts from time-to-time.
The same goes for your Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles. Being active on these social media platforms by sharing useful, fun and related content regularly is a proven way to generate traffic to your site without having to rely on Google.
4. Help Solve Related Real-Life Problems
People often turn to the Internet when they need an answer for a question or a need that’s bothering them, and this could be anything and everything under the sun.
Forums like Yahoo! Answers, Ask.com, Quora, and even Reddit contain thousands of real-world queries that need answering. If you can provide useful answers or solutions to someone else’s problem, you could gain a follower — and a customer, who will then tell their friends and followers about how helpful you’ve been.
5. Get the Help of Content Aggregators
If you have a popular website like Buzzfeed, getting traffic isn’t a problem. If you have a new website or blog, however, it’s a whole other story. Your best approach here is to get your content noticed by the people that matter, and that it’s listed on popular content aggregators.
As with any good content marketing strategy, your content should be useful, informational, original and high-quality for it to be worth sharing.
6. Make the Most of Your Email List
The money is in the list, as they say, and one easy way to maximize this is to go back to good old-fashioned emails. Business websites and blogs can benefit from a mailing list, which is why newsletter signup forms are almost a requirement for all.
Make sure your site has a widget or feature where visitors can sign up for newsletters and email updates. Build the mailing list using services like MailChimp so you can create and send high-quality email alerts people will actually read. Remember also to apply the rules of creativity when it comes to the headers and subject line, as these greatly affect the open rate. The better your subject lines, the higher the chances your emails have of being opened.
7. Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Many informative, well-written articles feature a quote or two, or at least a reference, to a subject-matter expert. These quotes or descriptions make the audience go, “Wow! He really knows what he’s talking about!” — or something along that line. Before the piece was written, chances are, the author did a little digging about that particular expert, and now, that person has one more follower.
By giving credit to these influencers in your articles, you give them exposure and present them as pros in a certain field. Chances are high that the influencer you mentioned will notice your post and share the content to their respective communities, which can translate to traffic to your site. Here, you bank on the core human characteristic of reciprocity, which often translates to positive results.
8. Go Back to the Basics
Metadata optimization is a basic tenet of good SEO, and knowing how to optimize these rich snippets is a good practice to keep in mind. Meta tags give readers an idea of what a site or page is all about, sort of like a preview.
Be sure to optimize yours so that it fits Google’s recommended length of about 500 pixels. It’s hard to determine exactly how long 500 pixels is, so your best shot is to use an online snippet optimization tool.
Remember also that duplicate meta descriptions are never a good idea, as these are tagged as spam. As Matt Cutts puts it, “You can either have a unique meta tag description, or you can choose to have no meta tag description.”
9. Let Others Take the Wheel
One of the best ways to gain exposure is to let the experts take the wheel. Say you’re selling a product; let the influencers test it out and give their opinion. Getting the opinion or approval of bloggers, industry experts, and individuals with a huge following in your particular niche is a great way to generate traffic to your site. With good reviews, you not only boost clicks, you also build a solid, positive reputation.
Send some products out to popular bloggers, YouTubers, and other personalities. If things go well, you can watch your stats go up.
10. Be Active and Stick Around
The longer you’re in the industry and in the business of producing high-quality content, the better your chances of showing up in search results for all related keywords. While you rely a bit on Google here, the bulk of the traffic will come from your reputation as a regular producer of great quality articles.
In time, people will no longer need to Google you; they’ll just go directly to your site because they know that’s where the good stuff is. If a user finds a link to an article on your website on their Facebook timeline, for example, there’s a big chance they’ll click it because you’re known to produce informative articles regularly.
Keeping your content marketing strategy going for months (or even years) will definitely make a difference when it comes to driving traffic to your site.
One last thought: Most of these strategies can easily be polluted by spammers, so tread carefully. Avoid becoming or coming off as a spammer as much as possible. Remember that there are legitimate ways to drive traffic to your site. All you have to do is know them and use them properly.
Did we miss anything? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section!
Image credit: Pixabay
Clayton Wood is the marketing director at SEOReseller.com. He has spoken at several online marketing conventions, and is passionate about helping companies and entrepreneurs keep up with the latest best practices in digital marketing and SEO. Connect with him on LinkedIn.