3 Steps to Growing your Website Traffic from Scratch

Wade McMaster

Aug 25, 20148 min read
3 Steps to Growing your Website Traffic from Scratch

On average, there are apparently 571 new websites created every minute.

You know what’s funny? The chances of one of those websites being successful or highly trafficked are extremely slim. If only one of those sites become popular, that’s a 0.1% success rate — and the reality is even slimmer than that! Website traffic can be very hard to come by.

Why do these 570(+) of 571 websites fail? 

There’s no one answer to that but there is a basic formula I follow and repeat for generating traffic and increasing the chance of success:

Step 1: Create a website that is useful & functional

Step 2: Drive Traffic to that website

Step 3: Let it convert

That’s it…

…well, they’re pretty broad steps and probably don’t excite you.

But despite how broad they are, when followed in this order, they work well and can slot your website into that 0.1% or higher.

I’ve seen people run websites that just don’t understand the basic idea behind promoting content. They write and pray for traffic and even when they do get some visitors — it does nothing for them. So it’s important to undertstand the basic process to this whole idea that is ‘content marketing’.

So here’s my approach. It’s not the only approach that works but it is effective. So I’ll dig a little deeper.

Step 1: Create a Website that is both Useful & Functional

This is a simple concept that requires a lot of thought and work to deliver.

You need to create or offer some kind of service or information that people really want. Add your own unique spin to it and shave away the ‘fluff’ that no one cares about. Perhaps it’s best put by Martial Arts legend (and not a blogger!), Bruce Lee:

“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own”

When you create something unique to you, packed with quality that gives people what they want, they’ll use it, they’ll tall about it and they’ll spread the word for you.

Of course, it’s easier said than done but here’s a few ways to increase the odds within your content:

  • Solve a problem — people want easy, actionable solutions or tutorials for their problems, so provide one!
  • Create a List — why solve just one problem, offer a list of ‘top solutions’ that people can pick from!
  • Release new information about something within your niche that hardly anyone has heard before.
  • Tell a story, which motivates, informs or even has a useful lesson inherent within it.

The above points are designed to offer the value, but you also need to get your foot in the door and let them know who you are. So you also need to add your personality to the content and design as well as setup a conversion process.

First, establish who you are by:

  • Using strong branding — consistent colors and use of a unique logo which helps create a feel for what you offer and who you are.
  • A clean website design with minimal clutter will backup your brand and create a higher level of trust. Busy, cluttered websites often come across as suspicious — especially if they have ads everywhere!
  • A photo of yourself or your team somewhere within the design to show your visitors that you’re a real person (or people). At least put this on your about page, which leads to…
  • An about page. Do you even have an about page? Don’t overlook this very important aspect of your website as it quite literally tells people who you are and what you offer.

Second, set your site up to convert.

If you want subscribers, set up email newsletter opt in boxes in your sidebar or below your post, include a feature box on the main page of your website and straight out ask people to subscribe if they enjoy your content! It’s a simple process when wrapping up a post to simply type:

If you found this useful, please sign up to my newsletter for exclusive tips and free updates.

It’s one sentence which can make a big difference. Just make sure you give people what they want first — if they land on a blog post, make sure it’s right in front of them, starting above the fold.

Of course, not everyone wants email subscribers, so if you’re trying to make a sale or drive people to a certain page, put links to those areas in the same spots and once again — mention it in conclusions of your posts.

A good example of this is right in front of you! When you arrive on the Semrush homepage the first thing you see is a box to enter some competitor information and use their tool — then it sells itself! They have another box in the sidebar beside this content that you can use to try out the Semrush tool, followed by Social Media boxes.

All of this perfectly funnels people to either the Semrush tool itself or to follow them on one of their social media platforms. All of this is done with minimal clutter, a clean design and consistent colors to enforce their brand.

It’s a combination of brand and image structured around design functionality. You want to guide people to right places in order to achieve what your website designed to do. If growth is your goal — I recommend focusing on the building your email list as this will give you a number of people to personally email updates and offers to.

Step 2: Drive Traffic to that website

Once your website is set up, there’s no point in having it if people won’t use it!

There are so many endless ways to get people onto your website, some are highly effective and others are a major waste of time and money. This depends highly on your audience, the niche you’re in and the quality of your website. But there’s a few avenues to try.

Social Media is an obvious one, so I’ll touch on it first.

No doubt you’ve setup your Facebook page, Twitter profile and maybe even a Google Plus page. But getting those profiles to grow and drive traffic is where most people struggle, especially in the beginning.

One of the first things you have to do is put up some quality posts, and carry that branding and colors from your website into the design of the profiles themselves. You want people to arrive on your profile and see personality and value. Once they arrive and see what they like, they may ‘Like’ or follow you — then you can continue to send them links and other valuable bits of information and drive them to your website.

There’s a few ways you can build your following on Social Media once you’re all set up:

  • Network — get in contact with other people in your industry or niche. Become friends, talk to them, share their links and posts and they may start sharing yours!
  • Solve Problems — in the early stages of building, I like to go to profiles or pages and see where people have asked questions about a problem — offer a solution and they’ll probably check out your page and ‘Like’ it!
  • Leverage Existing fans by posting viral content like pictures, exclusive tips, videos or anything that you think your fan base will appreciate.
  • Email people who are your industry or niche and tell them about your latest post. If you mention them in it, let them know and they may share it on their platform of choice!
  • Try Paid Promotion! On Facebook you can go really far with paid promotion if you simply do a ‘Like’ Campaign, but I’ve had likes for an average of 10c each by simply promoting a post which had some actionable tips in it. Value = interest!

At the end of the day, social media is like a party — you’ve got to mingle and be interesting for people to gravitate around you. You have to network, make friends and offer help to others so they’ll talk about you.

Want a good example? I started a Martial Arts movie website a few years ago wu goal if reviewing a list of 250 movies. I then sent messages to a couple of popular martial arts actors. One of them, a guy named Scott Adkins, loved the idea behind my site and shared it with his audience! I got 500 likes on the first day for that 20 seconds of typing. So don’t be afraid to reach out.

Don’t just stop there though! There are many other viral platforms like StumbleUpon and Reddit that can drive bucket loads of free traffic — especially if you have good information to offer. Keep emailing people with possible interest and trying your best to promote articles and posts on your site. Promote, promote promote.

Search Engine Optimization (or ‘SEO’) is the field most people want to excel at, since the traffic is targeted and keeps on coming for free! The good thing about SEO is that a lot of it is covered simply by doing your promotion above and by keeping your website SEO friendly with a few plugiuns — but you can go further.

To enhance your search engine results try building some links. I’m not talking about spammy commenting or buying links. I mean contacting people and contributing to blogs, and networking with people via email to get them to link to your site. I can’t really cover everything here, so here’s 21 techniques you can try courtesy of Brian Dean.

There are endless traffic building techniques out there. It’s simple, get your work out in front of people and link it back to your website.

Step 3: Let it Convert!

This part happens mostly without you.

You’ve created your website, written your posts and geared them toward converting (achieving a goal). Once that traffic comes through you’ve got to let everything unfold.

As this happens make sure you respond to any comments, emails or forms of interaction across your channels. You want people who contact you from your website to feel that there is a person behind the scenes and not just a dead, static website.

Of course, you have to repeat the process.

Create more content and drive more traffic with promotional methods that seem to work for you. Each time you do this, analyze what you’re doing. What works best? Keep doing it. What doesn’t work at all? Stop doing that. It’s this simple ‘entry level’ of understanding which leads to the specifics.

Don’t be afraid to see what other people in your space are doing. See what seems to work for them, analyze what they’re doing using the Semrush tool. Test it out, see what works. Run the 3 steps again!

I hope you found that useful! While it’s not specific it does offer a framework to start with and should simplify things at least a little bit. Any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to get back to you! Thanks for reading.

Author Photo
Wade McMaster is a blogger, graphic & web designer who started Design Web Identity - a website that helps people build and grow better websites!