Driving traffic to your website is at the root of every successful content website. The more visitors you have, the more profit you stand to make, and the easier it is to sell ads to potential advertisers.
Here are some general tips and tricks to increase the traffic to your website. We’ve focused here specifically on WordPress, because it’s such a popular CMS that many pre-existing solutions exist for it. But the same rules apply to any other kind of website, you just may need to do a bit more work to integrate a specific suggestion.
The Basics – An Optimized Website
Some of these things should go without saying, but if you’ve been in the business long enough, it may be difficult to evolve with each new website trend, and over time you might find that parts of your site are outdated. Here a few key factors to keep in mind for your website that are pretty much pre-requisites.
Your website should conform and modify itself for visitors from mobile devices. For almost all websites, these represent over 50% of all your site visitors at this point, so a website that’s optimized for mobile is crucial to provide them with an optimal experience.
Keep in mind, any newer WordPress theme will have a mobile version associated with it right out of the box, so if you’re considering a theme upgrade, this might be the time. Another term for this is “Responsive Website” meaning the design responds to the size of the device displaying it.
Making your site mobile responsive will increase the total number of visitors to the site, and keep them on for longer. Google will be more likely to serve your content in relevant search results. And finally, since ad blockers are a lot less common on mobile devices, you’ll actually be getting more impressions on your ads.
Pro Tip: The Advertserve ad server allows you to substitute zones between desktop and mobile, allowing you to instantly show site visitors one set of ads on desktop and a different set of dimensions or ad styles on mobile.
The faster your website is, the happier your visitors will be. Here too, Google will reward you for having a faster site by showing you on more serach results.
There are a few steps you can take to improve the speed of your website. These include:
A good theme
The way your theme is coded can have a big effect on your site speed, either efficilientlly serving up content or hogging lots of resources. Keep that in mind if you’re selecting a new theme. A popular destination for finding good, affordable WordPress themes is ThemeForest.
Pro Tip: Sort your themes by best selling to see the ones that have withstood the test of many people using them and good customer support.
There are a few reputable hosts out there who specifically specialize in WordPress and can help you with the best hosting environment. The subject of which website hosts are best for is hotly debated and competitive and there are no right answers, but a few noteworthy companies include Dreamhost, WP Engine, and Bluehost.
Pro Tip: It’s generally worth spending a few extra dollars to get your site faster and more reliable. Several providers like Dreamhost and WP Engine have dedicated environments that provide built in that are specifically optimized for WordPress and provide built in updates, backups, and security.
Pro Tip: Before installing WordPress optimization plugins, talk to your host and webmaster. Sometimes plugins can conflict with built-in optimizations that your host is already providing. Also be careful about having more than one optimization plugin, they often conflict with each other.
Caching and CDN
Caching means a version of your site gets saved locally to speed up the time it takes for the site to load for a returning visitor. A similar concept is that of a CDN, which is basically 3rd party host that distributes your content from decentralized locations for faster load times and reduced loads on your own servers.
Cloudflare is a great CDN that has a free plan and also protects you against certain types of cyber attacks. Certain plugins like the optimization plugins listed above or W3 Total Cache can also optimize your caching, and often include built-in integrate with a CDN like Cloudflare.
Pro Tip: An ad server like Advertserve can help your site speed by loading your ads asynchronously. This means that your regular site content can load before the ads do, allowing your site visitors a more seamless browsing experience.
Your site should have an SSL certificate associated with it. This will both protect your visitors from viruses in your site, ad well as, once again boost your Google results. If you’re noticing a pattern here, it’s that Google rewards sites for being up-to-date with the best security and design conventions.
A basic SSL certificate should not cost a lot of money. Hosts like Dreamhost offer free certificates that they automatically renew for you. This last piece is a godsend, because there is nothing more annoying or disruptive than an expired SSL certificate.
The Really Simple SSL plugin can help you convert all your old site content to a secure protocol with just a click.
Pro Tip: Advertserve can easily serve all your ads through SSL (which you can tell by the fact that the images are coming from “HTTPS” instead of just “HTTP”). All you need to do is check “Secure” when generating the zone ad code for your site,
Now that the basics are out of the way, here are a few tried and true techniques to drive more traffic to your site.
Make sure your site has sharing buttons located throughout its content. You’d be surprised how many people use them to share content via social media or email.
Sites like Share This and Sumo Me allow you to integrate sharing buttons into any website by pasting in a single line of code. You can then customize how they appear on desktop on mobile, as well as which sharing buttons should appear.
Pro tip: You have an option to dynamically show the sharing buttons that users are most likely to use – they can tell if you’re a visitor is a Twitter user and suggest a Twitter share button specifically to them.
Your email list is one of the most valuable assets you can build. It is one of the only remaining marketing channels that you have full control over, as opposed to social media platforms where you are subject to the whims of their algorithms.
A large and engaged email list can actually be monetized separately from your website, and Advertserve actually can assist you with dynamically serving ads in your emails and tracking their performance.
There are two components to your email strategy: building your list and sending out content.
Step 1: Build your list
Then, you need to ask people for their emails. Your email platform will give you a form to add to your site. We definitely recommend adding it to your homepage and at the bottom of each article. You can also be more aggressive with an email collection popup, but this can irritate site visitors.
A 3rd creative option is t to reward new signups with monthly contests or prizes (e.g. “Four monthly subscribers get $25 gift cards”). But, if your content is good, many subscribers will naturally be inclined to sign up on their own.
Step 2: Share your content
The next part of your email strategoy is, well, sending out emails. You should send out content regularly to keep your signups engaged. How frequently you contact people really depends on the type of content you offer and what your readers are expecting. News sites can easily send out content daily. If you don’t create much new content, you might send out a “roundup” email once week.
Pro Tip: There’s no reason not to send out old articles from your site archives if they are still relevant. Make the most of your existing content, brush them up and send them out again!
In an ideal world, you’d lovingly hand craft your daily or weekly email by hand, perfectly curating the articles and the design. But if you’re limited for time, email platforms like Mailchimp can automatically send out updates from your website with zero involvement of on your part. It’s one of their “Automatic Campaign” options, and is based off your site’s RSS feed.
Simply set it up once, tell it how often you want to send updates, and it will automatically do so as long as there is new content added to your site. Had a busy week with no new content? Don’t worry, Mailchimp will automatically skip sending until you add more content.
Pro Tip: When automatically pulling the posts into your email, sometimes the posts get added without their images. This is a result of the way many themes are coded. A plugin called “Featured Images in RSS” will fix this issue for you.
Automated social sharing
Next up, social media accounts. Which accounts you use really depends on the type of audience you have and the platforms their frequent, but a mainstay is typically Facebook and Twitter.
Here too, it would be great if you could manually post appropriate content to each platform, complete with the appropriate Hashtags and customized graphics.
But if you’re pressed for time, having a plugin that automatically shares your posts can be a great option. We’ve seen Facebook pages double in followers in just one year through automated sharing from the website. This in turn leads to more people reading and sharing your content, and the snowball continues…
There are several plugins that can automate this process for you. Jetpack is a popular plugin that offers this feature, alongside a lot of other features that you may or may not need. A plugin called WP to Twitter will automate just your Twitter postings. And a 3rd party platform called IFTTT can also automate your sharing for you.
Push notifications are another popular way to drive traffic to your site. Users first subscribe to alerts when prompted to on your site. They then get alerted when new content gets shared to your site. You decide what content should trigger the alert, and when you send it out, it will trigger a notification on their phone, desktop browser and other locations.
Adding push notifications to your site is quite simple. Create a free account with One Signal and add their plugin to your website. We’ve seen websites effortlessly build a following of thousands of subscribers, drawing hundreds of visitors back to their site every time they release an update.
Push notifications can lead to a sudden surge of traffic to your site, and is best reserved for really important pieces of content. With great power comes great responsibility don’t abuse your powers by pressing the big red button too frequently.
This one is not about increasing traffic, it’s about saving time. If you’ve been using any of the automated tools listed above to share your content on autopilot, you might also appreciate our self-serve ad server which simplifies the process of selling direct ads for your site.
AVS Express allows you to quickly set up advertising campaigns and bill your clients, so you can go back to doing what you do best – running an awesome website. You can even give your advertisers direct access to create and monitor their own campaigns.