Chapter 10: Direct Traffic

Chapter 10: Direct Traffic

I know Chapter 9 was a doozy, so I'm going to take it easy on you here in Chapter 10. Pretty simple, straightforward stuff... and there are only 3 sections (besides this short intro).

Here in Chapter 10, we'll be talking about a handful of different ways you can drive direct traffic to your website. The techniques I'll be teaching you here can help you start making sales and generating profits immediately after launching your store, while you're waiting for your SEO/marketing efforts to result in organic traffic.

Here's a quick preview of the FREE techniques I'll be showing you to drive direct traffic to your site:

  • participating in high-traffic forums within your market,
  • answering questions on Yahoo Answers and other Q&A sites, and
  • finding opportunities for guest posts on topically related sites.

Alright, let's jump to it!

Drive Direct Traffic from Popular Forums

Join the ConversationForums can be a great source of free traffic. They can also be a complete waste of time! 😀 What determines which bucket a particular forum falls into? It really comes down to 2 things...

  1. whether the forum is relevant (i.e. topically related) enough to drive targeted, meaningful traffic that could result in sales; and
  2. whether the forum is popular enough (i.e. gets enough traffic) to result in a worthwhile number of visitors.

So basically, you're looking for popular, high-traffic forums that are as closely related to your niche as possible. There may be 4 or 5 forums that fit the bill, or there may be zero. It totally depends on your niche.

We don't just need the forums to be semi-relevant so we can "sneak a backlink" from them (like we did back in Chapter 9 for purposes of getting high-quality backlinks). We're not in this to get a backlink this time! Our goal here is to drive targeted, direct traffic (meaningful traffic!) from the forum. We're looking to get participants of that forum to actually click a link that brings them to our site so they'll buy something from us!

So, how do we go about getting direct traffic from high-traffic, topically related forums? There are 3 pretty basic steps...

  1. Find topically relevant, high-traffic forums
  2. Create an account & join the conversation
  3. After a couple/few weeks, add a "signature" (containing a link to your site) to your profile (but don't stop participating in the forum)

The following video goes into more detail on each of these 3 steps...

Step 1. Find Relevant High-Traffic Forums

Start out by searching Google for phrases such as:

  • [your topic] forum,
  • [your keyword phrase] forum, or
  • [your general market] forum.
Use Advanced Google Searches to Find Topically Related Forums

Take a minute or two to visit each of the top-ranking 10-20 pages. Like I said before, you're looking for popular forums that you can see people in your target audience visiting... not necessarily as "active participants" who log in and post every day, but as somewhere they might go to get information, opinions and answers to questions. You should also look for signs of how "active" the forum is... how many posts/replies there are each day, how many members and guests are currently logged in (or visiting), how many members the forum claims to have, etc. (Another thing you can do to gauge the popularity of the forum is to enter its domain into Alexa.com to see its Alexa traffic ranking.)

Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of each of the forums you find. Based on your quick analysis (again, I wouldn't spend more than a couple minutes at each forum at this point), prioritize the list based on 1) activity level and 2) relevance to your site. Obviously, you'll want to focus on the highest-activity forums first, then work your way down the list.

Step 2. Create an Account and Join the Conversation

If you immediately start posting links to your site (or even just talk about your site), your forum account will likely get banned (perhaps permanently). You have to be smart about how you go about it. Before posting anything that could be deemed "promotional", you first need to establish yourself as a valuable contributor to the forum. This is a lot easier than it probably sounds. All I'm talking about is cruising around the forum every couple days, finding topics you feel comfortable chiming in on, and then "joining the conversation." Just participate! Share your opinions, answer questions you know how to answer, comment on what others have said. Just contribute here and there, and try to do so in a way that adds value (as opposed to making pointless "great post!" type comments). Again, for the first couple of weeks, you shouldn't post anything promotional. That's coming up in step 3!

Step 3. Add a Signature Containing a Link to Your Site

Add SignatureOnce you feel like you're an established member of the community, go ahead and add a "signature" to your forum profile. (For those of you who may not know, your signature will appear just below ALL of the posts you've already made PLUS all the posts you'll make in the future.) Include a link to your site in your forum signature, using your domain name/store name as the anchor text of the link. You don't want to go too overboard, but go ahead and make your signature a little bit "salesy" (since your posts themselves won't be salesy).

After adding a signature, don't bail on the forum. Again, you didn't do all this just to "sneak a 1-time link" from the forum. You're participating on this forum because it's a high-traffic community (i.e. a "social hang-out") that people in your target audience are likely to visit. You're doing this to drive direct traffic to your site. Remember, the signature you've added will appear below every post you make, providing additional exposure for your store with each post. (Eventually, of course, you may want to abandon the forum if you see in Google Analytics that it's not driving enough traffic to be worth your while.)

Drive Direct Traffic from Q&A Sites

Yahoo Answers and Quora are the 2 biggest Q&A sites and get A TON of traffic every day. (Honestly, they're the only 2 Q&A sites I'd bother with.) If you take the time to provide really good answers to some popular, oft-searched-for questions on these sites, you can get a fair amount of traffic from them. Check out the Pro's Edge boxes below for details on how to effectively use these Q&A-driven communities to drive free, highly targeted traffic to your site.

Pro's Edge: Drive Lots of Free Direct Traffic from Yahoo Answers

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Pro's Edge: Get Free Direct Traffic from Quora.com

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Drive Direct Traffic from Contributor Posts

Become a Guest ContributorHigh-traffic blogs can bring just as much direct traffic as high-traffic forums, if not more! The only trick -- which I'll show you how to master -- is finding opportunities to be a guest contributor on high-traffic blogs. Unlike a forum where you can just create an account and start participating, you need to be invited to be a contributing writer on someone else's blog. But it's A LOT easier than you'd think!

Once again, I'm going to remind you that the goal here is not to get a backlink. You're after direct traffic here. You want people to read your guest post, be interested and impressed, and come visit your site. So don't be too concerned about whether the backlink in the "author box" (you really don't even want any backlinks in the post itself) is a clean link or not. What you should be concerned about is how many people are likely to read your guest post... how much exposure it's going to get.

In addition to generating direct traffic, being a guest contributor on other sites' blogs also builds your brand name exposure AND is a great way to build your social following (assuming the blog owner allows you to link to your social profile accounts within the "author box").

Here's an example of a guest post I wrote for the Flippa Blog. Notice how in the bio I asked them to link to StoreCoach.com using the domain name (rather than stuffing keywords into the anchor text). This contributor post counts as a link, but much more importantly, it's driven a few thousand people to Store Coach and added dozens of followers interested in ecommerce.

Let's discuss the 3 steps for driving direct traffic through guest blog posts...

Step 1. Find Contributor Writing Opportunities

There are several great ways to find contributor writing opportunities in your market...

  • Method #1. Watch your RSS feed (discussed in the Pro's Edge box in Chapter 9) for posts by contributors. Visit those blogs and research/inquire about being a contributor yourself.
  • Method #2. Look for guest writing opportunities/invitations in your interactions on social networking sites (as you're executing the "getting social plan" taught in Chapter 9).
  • Method #3. Search Google for [your topic] + words such as 'contributor', 'contributing writer', 'guest writer', 'guest post', 'guest blogger', etc. Quickly visit each site in the top 10-20 results and find information (or inquire) about how to become a contributor.

Pro's Edge: BONUS METHOD - "Stalk" a Successful Contributor

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When you reach out to each of the blog owners, I've found that it's best to offer a handful of topic suggestions but to also invite them to tell you what they'd like you to write about. (By offering suggested topics, you're not only being proactive but you're also increasing the likelihood that one of your suggestions catches their eye and gets them excited to have you write a post for them.) Use the exact same principles we talked about back in Chapter 9 to come up with trending "hot topics" that will be interesting, informative and/or entertaining to their readers.

Step 2. Write a Really Good Post

Obviously, this is a super important blog post! If it sucks, the blog owner may not post it at all. (It's their blog, and it's up to them what goes on it!) It certainly needs to be 100% unique (hand-written, so to speak). Absolutely do not copy and paste any portion of its content from another site or source. And please take the time to proof-read it and run it through spell check & grammar check a time or two or five! 🙂

This might seem obvious (and it should be), but make sure to precisely follow all of the instructions the blog owner gave you in terms of topic, length, tone, inclusion of links/promotional information and so on. Failure to follow their instruction explicitly is a sure-fire way to have them decide NOT to publish your guest post!

Step 3. Ensure You Get "Credit" for the Contributor Post

When you deliver the piece to the blog owner, make sure you provide all the information they'll need for the "author box" bio, including:

  • Your name (or "pen name")
  • Your website domain name
  • Your Twitter URL
  • Possibly your Google+ and Facebook URLs as well

Because Google has cracked down on webmasters abusing contributor writing for the sake of getting backlinks, we actually recommend that you ask the blog owner to no-follow all links to your website.

Note: After your guest posts go live, tell your social followers about them. It's cool to be able to say "We've been featured on the _____ blog"! 🙂

Pro's Edge: What About Posting Comments on Topically Related Blogs?

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Final Note

You have a blog too, right? You should occasionally invite "experts" within your topic/market to be guest contributors on your blog! Why? There are several good reasons...

  • It's free content for your site (one less blog post you have to write)!
  • The contributing author will typically notify his/her social followers of the guest post, bringing visitors to your site.
  • It gives your site exposure and adds credibility to your store/brand.
  • Oftentimes, they'll reciprocate and invite you to do a guest post on their blog (or you can politely ask).