Web traffic is always your goal when starting a new site. No matter whether you sell something or offer content, it’s only site visitors that make your effort worth it and make it possible to run a business. It might therefore be pretty frustrating to find out that a new site generating traffic is a myth. So why is that – and what can you do to change it?
Why Doesn’t A New Site Generate Traffic?
Before in time, actually as late as 2013, it was much easier for a new site to generate traffic. On daily basis you got 100+ impressions in organic search almost from day one. Today a new site can struggle for months with 2-3 impressions a day.
The reasons for that are many. Firstly, the number of websites and blogs has truly exploded since the beginning of the century, which in itself makes it much more difficult to rank well.
Secondly, Google has been working hard to try and improve the quality of their search results. They came up with many algorithm updates that all aim at recognizing and returning relevant quality content to queries. Especially one algorithm update focused specifically on content quality in 2015 affecting millions of websites worldwide.
Last but not least, the high number of sites and spam/malware sources among them are the reason why certain criteria, such as backlinks, social signals, and traffic, are now more important than ever.
While this is all good news for internet users, it puts owners of new websites in a very difficult position.
The fact that newcomers haven’t generated many backlinks just yet or haven’t recorded enough social activity, doesn’t automatically mean that they are spam or low quality. It does, however, mean that such a website will have very difficult time generating traffic from organic search.
As a rule, organic search in combination with paid search should be your biggest traffic source. Visits from social media should account for around 30 % of your web traffic if you develop a strong social media strategy.
Because visits originating from search engines are so important, it happens quite often that new sites try to capture web traffic by using a big portion of their budget on advertising. If you, though, don’t have the budget or your content is unsuitable for advertising, you face a true challenge.
The Quality Dilemma
It’s otherwise a great thought that quality content should be pushed to the top of the SERP and spam shouldn’t really make its way to internet users. But how do search engines classify content and label it as high or low quality – or higher quality than content from another competing site?
We humans assess quality by looking for specific signs, such as sources of information, author, whether it’s in-depth research or not, whether it’s well written, whether it presents enough facts and proof for whatever statements are made, etc.
Search engines are though still far from being able to carry out such an assessment. They use therefore alternative criteria for defining quality. Has the website been around for a while? If yes, then maybe it’s reliable. Does it have high traffic rate? Then maybe people recognize it. Does it have low bounce rate? Then people find its content relevant to their needs. Does it have many backlinks from topic-relevant reputable domains? Then it’s definitely quality content.
The big problem is, though, that such an assessment doesn’t always benefit the best websites but rather the older ones.
New websites have of course not been around for long enough to prove their reliability. They have low traffic – or in any case lower than older competing sites. Their low legit traffic combined with the probability to get hit by strong laves of bouncing bot traffic means that many experience extremely high bounce rates. The fact that they’ve just started accumulating content affects negatively their topical authority score. As if that is not enough, generating real quality backlinks takes time.
So here you have it: your newly published site lives up to most of the criteria used to categorize content as spam or low quality. It’s worth noting that the actual quality of your content is irrelevant here. This is the reason why it’s almost impossible for a new site to generate traffic only based on the effort put into its publishing.
Even though Google has presented machine learning and sources as Search Engine Land list quality criteria for content as a ranking factor, truth is that this is all way into the future – and still a very small part of any usable algorithm. If you don’t trust me on this one, make the experiments, that I have made throughout the past many years, yourself and see how your content magically transforms into more trustworthy as time goes by.
10 Ways To Make Your Site Generate Traffic Now
Even though a lot is simply a question of time and hard work to create valuable content, you can’t afford to wait for your new site to generate traffic naturally. Therefore different techniques have been discovered by marketers to give you a kickstart. While you should always carefully choose techniques that fit your branch and situation, here’s the list of the best ways to make new sites generate traffic:
- Use ads. They aren’t that expensive and even a moderate budget will make a difference in terms of web traffic. Of course, it’s primarily webshops and other businesses that gain the most by using this strategy as they have the clear expectation of ROI. Content-driven websites can also benefit from advertising by using Dynamic Search Ads or a similar option by a different provider. The downside here is though that returns are more unpredictable, making it a risky investment.
- Use social media.
Social media can help new sites generate web traffic in several ways: by connecting you to potential followers, by providing a valuable backlink from your social media profile to your site, and by allowing you to run promotions and pretty well targeted ads. Even though some reports claim that traffic from social media has dropped to around 5 % of all visits to sites, Forbes shared a report back in 2015 devaluing this claim. Forbes reported that social media traffic accounts for 31 % of all referral traffic, with Facebook as a number one source of referrals. In the case of WPBloggingNerd traffic is currently divided 40/60 between social media and search engine originating traffic, spiced up with a great amount of referral and bot traffic of course.
- Run contests. Contests are a great strategy for creating awareness as they engage your public in a very special way: both in the moment of participation and in the moment the winner is announced. Contests featuring questions about your products or services are an invaluable opportunity to get people to check them out. Needless to say, this will help a new site generate traffic but not only. Chances are that such a strategy will result in increased sales. Tip: Make people dream of a product of yours by offering it as an award in a contest. Present it as appealing as you can and wait to see how many of those who didn’t win it will want it enough to buy it.
- Use personal branding to make a name for yourself or your authors as a traffic-driving strategy. Branding your authors as experts – or getting influential names from within your field to write for you – is a great way for a new site to generate traffic. Read more about this strategy in the post on your most important SEO tasks for 2017.
- Deliver value. Remember to do research of your target group and a specific need your website addresses. Be consistent and sell your content at all points of contact: from your domain, URLs, and titles to the last comma on your pages. Keep though in mind that reputable sources as Backlinko advise against creating content just for the sake of the “regular people” in your target group. The author argues that your content should target the influencers within your field instead. This is quite a good point as getting influencers to notice you is a shortcut to success. It is though only okay to do it as long as your true target group’s interest is served properly.
- Write long posts, optimally above 2000 words. As Neil Patel reports, the average word count on pages among the top 10 results for various keywords in Google is 2000+. Additionally, he notes that the longest posts are the ones generating most backlinks. Of course, it’s not all about length. Only quality in-depth content can trigger shares and generate backlinks.
- Forbes reminds ones again that new sites can generate traffic quicker if their owners leverage guest posting. The reason is simple: you reach out to established audiences and create the possibility for direct traffic from the publisher’s site to yours. What you have to do is to find an established publisher and work towards getting featured. How? Depends on the individual case. If there aren’t any official channels for submitting content or proposals, try contacting the editor and see how things happen around there.
- Research what’s trending at the moment and write about it – just better than your competitors. Writing spot-on news-like content has the downside of becoming old and somewhat useless very quickly but it’s a shortcut both for established and new sites to generating tons of traffic. Especially beneficial are posts on topics that just begin trending at the moment and are thus only vaguely covered by other publishers as they present you with the unique opportunity to rank among the first results for very popular search terms with high CTR.
- Be patient. I’ve heard this advice quite often and it can’t be more true. Most new websites are slow to generate traffic but they do eventually do it – as long as you didn’t give up too early. As mentioned before, site age is an important SEO factor and simply the fact that you persisted for some years will give you a boost. Additionally, with time you can accumulate quality content necessary in relation to topical authority, shares, and backlinks. Last but not least, as long as you do deliver quality and do your job to promote your site, chances are that you’ll get noticed at some point.
A Word Of Caution
New sites don’t generate traffic enough to support a business of any kind. For this reason it’s quite important that you have a plan to get your site through the difficult initial phase.
In many cases you’ll have to invest a lot in ads, campaigns, and paid publications. In other cases you can decide to wait it out and see whether things don’t improve on their own.
What’s important in all cases is that you know how much you’re willing to spend and how much you really spend. Economists say that a business shouldn’t be kept alive because it might generate a revenue at some point in the future. Revenue should come almost instantly for a business to be rentable.
Therefore, even if you’re a hobby-blogger, you’re strongly advised to work on a budget before launching your site and keep it once started.