SEO Smoking Gun

SEO – search engine optimization: it’s the smoking gun, isn’t it? If you look for advice about how to get traffic to your site, people automatically hand the SEO gun to you and tell you to fire. It’s funny, considering the fact that I can remember – not too long ago, even – when we had to work hard just to convince people optimization was worth doing.

But even now in this age of “online marketing enlightenment” many of those same people forget that it doesn’t stop at optimizing your website. Optimization is a continuous thing; actions are continuous things; marketing is a continuous endeavor.

Let’s look at a few basic things first to set your mind in the right place, and then we’ll get into the meat:

What Does Optimization Mean?

Webster’s Dictionary definition says that optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.”

Therefore, when you’re actively optimizing your marketing efforts, you’re trying to make everything you put out as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible.

Got that? Good. Let’s go on.

Is Getting People to Your Site Your Only Goal?

If so, there are plenty of easier ways to make that happen then what you’re doing, guaranteed. However, you don’t just want visitors, do you? You want stick-around-and-buy visitors. Even better, you want so-happy-I-came-back-again-and-bought-more visitors.

If there is a more important goal than just mere traffic, it’s user retention. It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand new visitors if none of them ever come back; your focus should instead be on the people you want to stick around, which means getting relevant traffic.

Now to the meat.

Relevant Traffic

How Do You Get That Relevant Traffic?

SEO is a part of it, okay? It is. We optimize every piece of content that goes out from the business to the potential. We optimize the site for when the visitors show up, right? –But it’s not all of it. It takes a little… personal effort. Some of these you’ve probably heard before, but we hope you find some you haven’t thought of, or something that sparks another idea for your marketing efforts!

01. Be social
You can opine with the greatest words anyone’s ever read — but nobody will read them if you passively wait for traffic. One of the best ways to increase awareness of your website and its content is using social media. Use shocking, tempting headlines for Twitter, enticing photos for Facebook, and put your efforts into improving (optimization, right?) the company image with Google+.

02. Use forums
Forums are a great way to improve your traffic. It’s also an easy way to get started; assuming the forum of your choice doesn’t have guidelines restricting link posting, you can make a post about your article. Just be sure to stick around for any questions; you want to come across as helpful.

03. Reddit
While we’re still on the social media subject, posting to Reddit is still an excellent way to generate traffic. This is especially true now that there are 50 default subs instead of 10; that means new users have access to many other channels that could be relevant for your links.

04. Link to another blogger in an article
This one’s a straightforward freebie; it only helps to link to another professional in your industry. They’ll be notified and may acknowledge your note. Some may even send a link back to you, giving you some free, relevant traffic. The links need to make sense, of course, so keep your readers in mind when linking out.

05. Guest blogging
Guest blogging can go both ways, and the benefits are everywhere. Not only should you strive to post content on other blogs, but you should also invite other bloggers to write a post on your own site. In both cases, traffic will increase both ways. Be sure your guest posts are authoritative and don’t spam links.

06. Interviews
Similar to guest posts, interviewing is another means to gain relevant traffic. Either you gain traffic by those who watched you answer questions in an interview, or you’ll generate traffic when your interviewee links back to your website.

Just like guest blogging and interviews, you can bring traffic to your site when you comment on other blogs in your industry. Read through the post and comment in a helpful way.

08. Engaging with readers
On that note, it’s worth fully connecting with the people you already know are giving you traffic. When someone comments on your article, post a grateful response. You don’t necessarily need to engage in full conversation, but responding shows your interest in your readers.

09. Responsive theme
Websites aren’t just for computers anymore. With the advancement of mobile technology and Google ranking algorithms, you need a responsive website. If your mobile readers have to pinch around your website, it’s going to take a hit on search engine ranking pages. (Note: this is especially true after the latest Google update targeting Mobile Search!)

10. Fast theme
This one should come easily with a responsive website. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load, you’re liable to lose some of the traffic you might have otherwise retained. Keep a fast website light on resources for best results.

11. Going to conferences
No matter the industry, there’s a good chance someone holds a conference that would benefit your business. It’s worth attending the conference, and it’s even better if you can snag a speaking spot. Even engaging in conversation with those who attend is a good way to gain site exposure while picking up industry tips.

12. Advertising in email
If you already need to send emails day in and day out, why not make them work a little bit for you in return? In your email signature, you can include a link to your website underneath your phone number or name. Make things a little more convenient and write it out as a hyperlink; most people don’t want to take the time to type out a URL instead of clicking.

Bonus: Answer Questions
Answer some of the most commonly asked questions in your industry as an article; be sure to cite your sources where appropriate and explain your reasoning in an easy-to-understand manner. The next time someone searches for the common question, they’ll come across your very helpful explanation.

Building Links

Tying It Together

See? I gave you 12 ways to gain relevant traffic and even fulfilled the bonus promise. Where does the opening about optimization tie in, though?

Well, readers, here’s where the magic really happens. When you go to Twitter, you use those relevant hashtags. When you link to another blogger, you link to a post of theirs that relates to your post (and please, use key terms, not “here”!). In other words, you pull it all together into a mix of SEO, marketing and social media.

The biggest takeaway of this post is this: online marketing is a mixed bag, not just one thing. It’s also an integrated bag. The more you can conceivably merge into a seamless campaign, the more relevant, targeted, and interested, your traffic will become.