The next thing we need to look at is marketing; actively getting the word out about your project.
Whilst SEO is by far my favourite online strategy due to its passive nature, there are many other things you can be doing to make people aware of your site.
…Many of these methods can generate a much quicker, and potentially bigger (depending on your skill set), return than SEO can.
We’re going to take a look at a wide variety of tactics you could use to boost your website traffic.
I wasn’t going to be another writer that publishes a ‘100 ways to market your site’ type post that leaves you with more questions than answers.
And I certainly wasn’t going to include mostly irrelevant ideas (e.g. business cards) to bump my numbers up, either.
We’re only looking at solid, appropriate methods that scale. Or at least…mostly scale.
With that in mind, here are around 20 different ways that you can promote a website, along with my honest thoughts on whether you could find success with the method.
Many of the tactics are not suitable for lazy buggers like myself. We’ll cover the reasons as to why throughout.
Let’s start by looking at the ways you can actively market your site.
By ‘active’, I mean that you have to complete a new piece of work, or carry out a specific task, each time you want to achieve a little more of that sweet success.
It’s the type of task that you have to complete on an ongoing basis, rather than a one-off piece of work that could generate traffic, leads and income for years to follow.
Some methods fall in a grey area between active and passive depending on how you go about them, but gimme a break fam. Let’s just keep things simple here.
If you’ve not read any of my previous content, you won’t yet be aware…
…I believe that most social media sites are a huge waste of time.
It just doesn’t work for me.
There are, of course, exceptions.
Most social platforms are not suitable for my preferred style of work, or for my business model.
It’s a huge investment of time for the vast majority of people that see any success in this area.
On top of this, you need to be genuinely skilled (unless you already have an audience from elsewhere) at balancing the types of things you share.
I am more than willing to hold my hands up and say that I don’t possess the necessary skills or mindset to share social posts that a large number of existing and new people want to see.
It might seem unusual for me to admit this…but I’m not the type to share things that I think my audience wants to see.
I share what I want to share on all platforms — including this site.
As Aristotle (alright, I heard it from Ricky Gervais) once said: “To lead an orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd.”
It turns out that’s not a great strategy for building a following on most social sites, though.
There are other online marketing tactics that have far more upside for me that I’d always prioritise before I’d even consider looking to put significant time into this area.
Does this mean you can’t have success with social?
There are opportunities out there for everyone.
I just prefer to work in a certain way. You have to find what works best for you.
Here are the things I’ve found and learned about a range of different social sites over the years of using them:
Organically growing a page on Facebook is incredibly hard.
This has only continued to rise in difficulty as the site throttles the ability of your pages to reach an organic audience. Buffer estimates that Facebook posts will reach less than 6% of people that ‘like’ a page.
For every 100 likes, you’ll be lucky if you get 5 people see your post on average. That is awful.
There are ways you can boost organic visibility, but I do think the traditional method of posting to your timeline is pretty much dead.
However, I do think there is much more life in the area of Facebook communities — known most commonly as ‘groups’, but I don’t think this name does them justice.
People in Facebook groups typically engage much more commonly and in higher quality than on public pages. This means these communities can be a great way to interact with your existing audience. The communities themselves can also gain new visitors to your brand that weren’t even aware of you before finding it.
Although pretty similar to Facebook in overall structure, I do prefer Twitter’s format for growing an audience.
On Twitter, it’s much easier to share the types of things people will like in small doses. This includes things like tips, news, stories, updates, jokes, and more.
Twitter allows for a much more natural conversation-style approach, meaning you can get away with publishing a much more varied range of stuff — and more often, too.
People following a Facebook page wouldn’t be too happy if you posted 20 times in a day, but on Twitter this is totally acceptable — assuming you’re sharing stuff of value, of course.
The big ‘but’ for me is just how much value you have to be sharing for such a prolonged period of time before you’ll start to see any form of traction.
Many people recommend using post schedulers so that your feed is consistent in sharing good content (rather than you needing to remember to post).
This can help, but it’s certainly not a miracle fix for anyone looking to gain a significant following because there are tens of thousands of people taking the same lazy approach.
Instagram is a strange platform. It’s one of the apps that I enjoy using most but I really don’t know why — it’s not my style at all.
I think it’s one of those dark things where I know that people are posting their very best sides in an attempt to get some form of personal satisfaction or income. I don’t really have a problem with those that do this, but it’s just something I wouldn’t do. I like to keep things real…which ultimately means I very rarely post on Instagram. I’m an ugly bastard that doesn’t really do anything exciting with my time, so it’s not the platform for me.
So, despite using the app almost every day, I only really do it to browse.
However, I don’t just explore images and feeds — I analyse to see the strategies that people are using, both successfully and terribly.
The first major thing I’d advise is to ensure that any growth and interaction you have is from actual real people. There are so many bots and people using automation software that it’s actually laughable.
I certainly wouldn’t want to waste a whole load of time and resources building an army of fake followers that wouldn’t care (or even see) if I posted something I actually wanted them to check out.
This doesn’t mean all pages are like that and yours doesn’t have to be either. Just be wary of superficial successes.
I don’t mean to point out the obvious (I do), but the best types of content you can share on Instagram are highly visual.
However, many people are missing an opportunity because they believe that if they don’t have a visually attractive offering like colourful clothing to sell, beautiful beaches to live on or perked peaches to sit on, they can’t become a success on Instagram.
Anything that is visually appealing can work well on this platform.
There’s no reason you can’t make attractive images even if you’re in a boring industry.
If you don’t have real images to share, you can still design shareable pieces of content that include stats, info, quotes or similar.
Try to share a high quality image or video at least five times a week.
The main tip for Instagram — and for most social platforms — is not to oversell.
Your feed should not be a continual plug for your website or another channel. You can do this, but do it sparingly. Instagram Stories can be a better place than your feed for this, especially with the ‘swipe up‘ feature.
If you’re a brand or a store, selling can be done in a much more discreet way. Showing off your products with beautiful and creative images can be enough to make people crave them, so don’t drop a sales pitch in the caption.
Overall, Instagram should be used as an extension of your website and brand rather than an attempt to simply divert people from the platform to your main offering.
Pinterest is also a highly visual platform…
…But the similarities between it and the previously discussed social site end there.
Unlike Instagram, where you can’t link out from posts, Pinterest is the total opposite. Almost every popular image on the entire site is linked out to an external resource.
This gives you much more ability to directly affect your website’s results.
According to HootSuite, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan purchases.
Consistency is key when it comes to Pinterest. Users should aim to pin at least one great thing every day — ideally brand new links, rather than just repinning older content — and should always spread out pins rather than doing a bunch in one go.
I think the majority of sites out there are overlooking a great opportunity by not creating vertical, ‘Pinnable’ images (like the one included at the start of this post).
Creating eye-catching, vertical images for your content is essential for success on Pinterest.
Self-promotion isn’t anywhere near as shameful on the site, either. In fact, I pin from ClichéWebsite on an almost daily basis.
There are a huge variety of factors that can come into play with regards to the success of your Pinterest account, but it’s the one traditional social platform that I’m actually putting resources into right now (I’ll be honest, my VA finds and schedules a load of great content each week and then I sit back and take the credit).
Honestly, I don’t have any tips I can share for LinkedIn.
I could have done what most sites would do in this scenario — found information from elsewhere and then passed it off as my own.
However, as I would have absolutely no ability to confirm whether I think the tactics would be successful or a waste of time, I don’t want to mislead you by even trying.
The social media site that mostly exists for the corporate world is just so far away from the place I want to be in.
That said, I do know that people make LinkedIn work for them, so I definitely wouldn’t rule it out for you — as long as you’re in the right field (business-to-business, I guess? I honestly don’t know).
One of my favourite social platforms is Reddit, and that doesn’t include the fact that it’s probably the best place in the world to sink hundreds of hours of procrastination into.
There are very few places out there that have the upside of hundreds of thousands of views without you needing any audience to begin with, but Reddit is one of them.
If you continually engage with a popular subreddit to get a feel for the types of thing the audience in that community likes, and you also build karma on your account so that people know you’re a real person with a real interest in the topic of the subreddit, you can then utilise these things to submit something of your own.
If you’ve been genuinely active in the subreddit, other contributers and lurkers will usually be happy to support something you’ve submitted of your own — or maybe they won’t even be able to tell it’s yours if you’re smart with the submission. The latter is probably what you should aim for, as self-promotion is usually not allowed.
If you can get to the top of a subreddit, even if that subreddit isn’t too large, you’re probably going to get a reasonable amount of views.
If you reach the top of a popular subreddit, it has the power to send so much traffic that it can take down a small website with what is commonly referred to as the ‘Reddit hug of death’.
The amount of people that think they’ve missed the boat when it comes to YouTube is astounding.
You have not missed the boat.
YouTube has four huge benefits.
Firstly, when you get views and you get subscribers, you’re building your brand.
Secondly, you can earn directly from your videos via AdSense. My advice would be not to focus on this. Put your efforts into making great content and whatever money comes will be great. You will need to get an extremely high amount of views to make a living via ads on YouTube, so don’t stress it. Just make use of what I believe to be the best external platform for your website and your brand that there is, and receive a small amount of money for doing so, too.
The third benefit is that you’re utilising an already successful platform. If you make a new website then you have to build it into something capable of ranking and converting. If you use YouTube effectively, you can get your content in front of thousands of people even if you have a brand new channel and only one video published.
The final benefit is that you can use your videos to promote sales elsewhere.
As always, don’t oversell.
But by including a link to my free course in my video descriptions, and mentioning it quickly in a reasonable percentage of my videos, I managed to get more email subscribers from YouTube than any other source by far.
Despite the fact I rarely uploaded to my YouTube channel for my niche site (it only has around 50 videos in total) and the view counts are low because of how specific the industry is, I managed to generate 1,728 email subscribers — signing up to my free (but monetised) course — from YouTube in 2018. That’s on top of generating around 4,000 subscribers to the YouTube channel itself.
The thing that I love most about YouTube is that, objectively, my videos are not good.
I use cheap equipment, the editing I use is mostly just cutting out mistakes and pauses, and I’m one of the least charismatic people you’re ever going to watch.
However, when you’re speaking in a niche area and with the authority your knowledge allows you to, people don’t care so much about the standards of your video.
Look, I’m not saying make bad videos on purpose.
You should always try to make the best content you can because the better it is, the more people will share it, the more people will subscribe, and the quicker you’ll grow.
But to become a success on a micro scale, all you have to do is provide advice and tips for people in a way that is easy to digest. A good portion of people are watching for what you say and not how you say it.
Quora, a question and answer site, is absolutely one of my favourite and best-performing methods of building an audience.
The trick with the site is to provide highly detailed answers — way better answers than anyone else has already provided on the Quora question page.
Because the site shows how many people have viewed each answer on a question, you can see the types of posts that are likely to continue picking up eyeballs long after you answer.
Quora questions rank in Google, and people also use Quora to browse and find answers themselves, meaning you have two separate opportunities to make people aware of you, your brand, and your offering.
An additional bonus is that you can get followers on Quora, so if your answers are interesting enough then you could build up a small audience of people that automatically see anything you respond to.
Put 99% of your effort into your response and 1% into a small mention of your website — if you even mention it at all.
I answered 13 questions on my Quora account (an incredibly small amount, I am aware) with the intention of getting exposure for my main niche site.
Although the subject is extremely specific, my answers are still getting viewed in reasonable volumes.
I included a small linked mention of my site in 7 out of my 13 answers. That’s actually a little on the high side for what I’d recommend.
Note: the links are nofollowed, so serve no direct SEO benefit.
Since I started posting on Quora for that site, it has been the 4th biggest social referrer (for views) after YouTube, Reddit and Facebook.
Note: Facebook & Twitter traffic is coming from other people sharing my stuff, not from me posting on there.
You can see in the user behaviour and conversion stats that Quora is particularly strong in sending targeted visitors.
Visitors from Quora have the second-lowest bounce rate, they have the second-highest average session duration and email subscriber conversion rate, and then view more pages per session than any of the other top 5 social referrers.
It’s worth noting that the stats from Reddit in that image are a little skewed (negatively) from a couple of mini-viral content pieces, meaning thousands of people were seeing my content but they wouldn’t have been overly interested in seeing more, let alone subscribing.
But whilst Reddit sends way more visitors overall, even without these ‘mini-viral’ spikes, the metrics are still down significantly on what Quora offers in terms of the average visitor’s engagement levels.
Let’s move away from the world of social media now and onto different types of sites and strategies.
For those of us that have worked in online marketing for a prolonged period of time, the phrase ‘press releases’ brings back many horrific memories.
Part of my first job in the online world was to write at least five press releases a week — the sole purpose to generate a backlink to a category page (or five) of our website. It was around this sorta time that I first began hating my existence on this planet.
It was incredibly spammy.
…But it worked at the time.
Google’s Penguin algorithm brought an end to what had felt like an eternal nightmare, and with it, press release quantities dropped in their thousands.
I think there’s still a very small opportunity in press releases.
If you have genuine news to share about your company or product that journalists may be interested in, it’s worth putting the hour or two necessary to craft a press release.
It’s an extremely low-risk thing that can be looked at every time you have genuine news to share.
Think: game-changing product announcement.
Avoid: shouting about the fact that your company has just sponsored an under-8s football team, because no-one cares.
If you don’t get any attention from it (which you probably won’t) then you won’t have lost out on much except for a tiny bit of time.
Whilst this tactic is still declining in popularity, and definitely isn’t going to set the world on fire with any success it could generate, you do have less competition with them these days.
Much more effective (but also more time consuming) than press releases are press requests.
This is a long-term strategy that combines SEO rewards with jumps in your brand awareness.
Services like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and monitoring hashtags on Twitter like #journorequest allow you to find exactly what questions a journalist is looking for answers to.
Rather than sending your company news to thousands of media reporters and hoping one bites on your story, you’re sending your expertise or experience to just one reporter that you know has a good chance of liking (and using) what you send their way.
This is something you should keep up with every day.
HARO send three emails each day; morning, afternoon and evening. It doesn’t take long to give the email a quick scan to see if there’s somewhere you can offer a detailed response.
There are also some little tricks you can do to automate the process slightly, such as this IFTTT recipe that will send you a text message every time it finds one of your chosen keywords within a HARO email.
Here are three rules I try to stick to when answering press requests:
The long-term benefit of press requests, other than obtaining some of the highest quality backlinks around, is potentially building a relationship with influential writers that could go on to reference you for years to come.
The strategy to find success with forums is very similar to that of the one I discussed in the Reddit section. Probably because Reddit is essentially a glorified forum.
My advice would be to pick 2-3 forums that are closely related to your niche, sign up, and simply begin posting once or twice a day for as long as you can.
Don’t sign up with a username that matches your site’s name.
Be a genuine forum member.
Don’t even mention your brand or website.
By playing the long game, you’ll have much more of a pull when you have a genuine chance to promote your site than if you just went in all guns blazing.
You’ll also learn about the types of posts that do well for interactions, and the types of posts that would allow you to self-promote — either blatantly (i.e. by saying ‘this is my site…’) or in a sneakier way.
Sneaky is usually best in these situations, though I try to be upfront wherever a site allows.
Webinars are something that I see great potential in for building an audience, but they’re also something that many people use as a sales tool.
Here is the general webinar strategy that people use:
This actually works really well for selling stuff. But you don’t have to use it like that.
You could attract the audience to your webinar (and therefore your email list) and then just like…not try to get your hands on their money straight away?
Because people have to show up at a set time to see the show, it means they’re highly engaged and absolutely want to learn from you.
Webinars can become more passive by showing repeats on a regular basis, rather than turning up to do a live show every time.
Those that sign up but don’t attend can be sent a repeat of the footage in their inbox the next day.
If you are showing repeats then you, as the host, should show up and hang out in the live chat section to answer questions from new audience members.
The only issue with webinars is that they also require promotion of their own to attract people to attend. If you have a brand new site and no audience, webinars will require a bit of a push to get people interested — perhaps using some of the marketing ideas listed throughout this post.
Get over any embarrassment or shyness (if you have any) and tell your friends and family about your site.
Try to explain to them exactly what you’re doing, what your plan is, who your target market is and so on.
This is something I’ve always really struggled to do because cringe.
I hate showing people what I’m doing.
In fact, I rarely tell people what I do face-to-face. “I work on the internet” is my usual generic response.
However, having people know about what you’re doing gives you a chance to spread via recommendations and word-of-mouth.
You have no idea who will tell who about your site and it could spark a chain reaction of interested visitors and customers in a month’s time, who knows?
One thing is for sure, telling people you know gives you a lot better chance of being found than not telling people.
So if you’re a little on the awkward side like myself, pluck up some courage (or sink a load of bevvies) and just tell them.
With people knowing, it also gives you more responsibility to work on your idea and to see it through to a successful outcome because you know people will be monitoring your progress.
You probably don’t want friends and family to think you’ve failed, so use that as a motivator.
Whilst blogging can be done for SEO purposes, it can also be done to build an audience of people that come to your site to read what you have to say each time you hit publish.
I usually try to bridge the gap between writing for Google (i.e. bringing people in passively) and writing for people that enjoy reading my stuff.
For those of you starting a site now, or looking to grow one, I would say look to use blogging to grow an audience of people that like your content if you have time you will definitely commit to publishing regularly for a very long period of time.
If you’re trying to single-handedly run a business, you may be better placed writing more search-focused content.
Many people will tell you that there is no difference between writing for the user or writing for search engines in the modern day.
Those people are wrong.
You have a variety of places that you can publish to as a blogger, so we’ll look at them separately now.
Blogging on your own site is the most obvious place to start, and would likely be the most rewarding long-term if you could attract an audience.
Writing content can attract people to your site passively via organic traffic, but it also gives you the opportunity to grow via other means if people like what they see. They can share your posts with their own audiences on social media and if you keep up with consistently great content it can really get the ball rolling.
Some people say that you need a consistent posting schedule. This can help, but is not essential.
As long as you’re sending incredibly high value content to your readers, it doesn’t matter if you post three times a week or once a month.
Generally speaking, the more time a post takes, the better it has the potential to be.
An audience will be happy to wait if the wait is worthwhile.
The only thing to be careful of is the danger of the worst thing imagineable in the online world:
If you wait too long between publishing content, you may become…irrelevant.
Blogging on Medium gives you the ability to build an audience whilst benefitting from the fact that Medium has authority to rank in Google — your brand new site will probably not.
You can also pick up visitors that are browsing the site for topics they enjoy reading about.
Like with social media sites, you can build up followers that will be able to see and share your posts whenever you hit publish.
However, the downside is that you will struggle to send a huge percentage of your Medium readers towards your site.
Your brand can build on the platform, you can definitely send potential subscribers and customers to your main online presence, but my personal preference would be to use Medium sparingly rather than as your primary focus for blogging.
The final blogging method I’m going to cover here is guest posting.
This area has a mixed history.
For years, it was loved as an SEO tactic — a cheap and easy way to get a backlink to your site.
This led to everyone spamming the shit out of guest posts. Hey, I was one of those people, and it worked extremely well.
Then Google came down on them like a tonne of bricks.
Guest posting went from something that writers were doing multiple times weekly to something that almost no-one was doing — ever.
Writers were less willing to write them, and even if they were, most websites weren’t touching them.
These days, people are much more sensible with the approach.
For websites, guest posts allow for high quality content to be published without having to put in the effort (or the money) to write it.
For authors, guest posts give the chance to be put in front of a large audience. This can slowly improve brand recognition, and can also bring potential subscribers over who really like their stuff. If the website sends the guest post to their email list then you can get a spike in new interest in your content — as long as its memorable.
Many people also say that guest posts can send referral traffic over a long period of time. I’ve actually found this to not really be the case.
I wrote a guest post that has received tens of thousands of social shares, probably at least a hundred thousand visitors, but it only sent a couple of hundred visits to my blog.
Sure, any visits are better than no visits.
But if you’re doing guest posting with the aim of referral traffic in mind…I wouldn’t bank on it.
If you want to make a successful long-term business, you will need to be able to put as many areas on autopilot as possible.
The more things that happen passively, with just a watchful eye required to check over things, the better.
Not only is a passive approach great for business, it’s great for lazy people (like me) too.
With passive methods, you still have to put in the work upfront to ensure you can drive and convert visitors successfully.
You also need to put in the work to maintain your progress, but you don’t specifically have to try to tempt people to go from A to B like you would with an active method that we discussed earlier — they simply arrive at point B and the relationship between you and the reader starts from there.
As I’ve already covered a whole lesson on SEO tactics, I’m going to keep this brief.
Nail your SEO strategy from the beginning, put the work in as you go along, and if you’re in this for the long-term then you should reap the rewards down the line.
SEO allows you to bring in targeted, highly relevant visitors, and sets you up for the dream scenario where you can earn customers or clients without needing to spend any time or money on advertising.
Driving traffic passively doesn’t necessarily have to take time.
We’re blessed with the option of Pay-Per-Click (PPC), giving you the chance to drive the same types of targeted visitors that SEO does — but at a cost.
That seemed to make things seem a little dark and mysterious. I meant a literal cost. You have to pay for it. Hence the name.
By installing conversion tracking, which is extremely easy to do — you just copy and paste some code — you can see exactly how much money you’ve made from how much you’ve spent.
If you’re selling products or a service, you should know exactly how much profit you make, or what your margins are.
With this knowledge in mind, you can decide exactly how much you’re willing to pay for a new sale or lead, even differing across all pages on your site.
If you’re in the early growth stages of your business, you may even be willing to take losses on your PPC sales in order to grow your customer base and your brand.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of PPC you could consider:
Probably the most well-known form of PPC is Google Ads, formerly known as AdWords.
With Google Ads, you can jump yourself to the top of search results.
You can also send the most targeted visitors imaginable to your site; only showing up for results where you know the user is highly likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Competition can be tough (i.e. expensive) at the top, but there are definitely still a ridiculous number of profitable opportunities.
Every social site makes their money via advertisers.
You can easily become one of those advertisers, and target exactly the type of audience that you want to reach.
This is the complete opposite style of ad to Google Ads.
With Google’s paid search results, you’re being shown to people that are looking for your stuff.
With social media advertising, you’re directly reaching out to people that you know should have a fair chance of liking your stuff — as long as you’ve accurately identified your target demographic within their ad software.
Social advertising is much more popular with those that are promoting content as well as products and services. Because of the cost of Google Ads, it’s usually (but not always) limited to those selling something. With social, many publishers are often willing to throw $50-$250 on a bit of extra promotion for their latest piece of content.
Many people believe that social ads are still far from saturated, meaning you can get very good value with the correct ad setup. Despite not doing a whole load of it myself right now, I agree with those people.
Almost certainly the creepiest part of the promotional opportunities within this post, retargeting is also one of the most successful.
The downside to retargeting is that you won’t be using it to attract a new audience — you’ll use it to attract people back to your site that have already visited recently.
Ever been on a site and then seen adverts for them non-stop afterwards, even though you’d never heard of them previously?
This is down to retargeting.
All it takes is a simple bit of tracking code that you can copy and paste onto your site — no need to be a tech genius like me.
There are many different types of retargeting software, and you can retarget people across social media, search networks and other places too.
Conversion rates from this method tend to be extremely high. The people that come back to your site are usually returning to complete a purchase of something they knew they’d looked at previously.
It also helps improve your brand recognition.
Yet another tactic that straddles the line between active and passive, relationship building is very similar to the friends and family thing that we already discussed.
You have to put in active work to build relationships with people and maintain them, however, the results from doing so often come without you doing anything.
Building actual relationships is the key to this — don’t try to be mates with everyone with the logic of ‘the more you know, the better’.
People will see through you if your intentions are not in the right place.
If people genuinely like you as a result of your relationship with them, and they also like what you do, they might be willing to share your work with other people — on their site, and maybe in other places too.
You have no idea how powerful mentions can be from relationships that you’ve built months or even years before.
The other benefit is that if you make friends that are doing a similar thing to you, you can exchange ideas, tactics and more.
Mutually beneficial relationships can be huge.
As an added bonus, when you’re spending a lot of time working online on your own…a friend can go a long way to saving your sanity.