Could it really be possible that almost everything you are doing to promote your website is a waste of time?
We’re not just talking about questionable hacks you picked up on some weird forum. We’re talking about proven techniques recommended by industry leaders in authority publications.
But you know what?
It’s mostly a load of crap.
Over the last five years, I’ve mentored over 2,000 bloggers. I’ve examined their promotional activities. I’ve seen their traffic stats.
And the vast majority of what you’re being told to do simply does not work.
It’s not just less effective than advertised. It produces almost no meaningful results whatsoever.
What, exactly, is a “meaningful result?”
Well, I’m glad you asked…
How to Measure Traffic Growth When You’re a Beginner
Consider this question:
If you implement a traffic technique, and it doubles your traffic, was the technique successful?
Most people would say yes, but let’s examine some numbers, and I believe you’ll see it differently.
Let’s say you’re getting one visitor per day, and you try out a new traffic technique, and your traffic goes up to two visitors a day. It’s a 100% increase, but it’s still only one freaking visitor per day.
To get that visitor, let’s also say it takes you one hour per day. The technique is therefore producing one extra visitor per hour invested.
Pardon me for saying so, but that’s horrible. You could run around naked in a public parking lot with a sign on your back advertising your website address and do better than that (although fair warning, you might get arrested).
It doesn’t matter that you received a 100% increase in traffic. When you’re a beginner, you only have so much time to invest in getting more traffic, and therefore, the best measure for a beginner isn’t unique visitors or page views or any of the other things most analytics programs track.
It’s visitors per hour invested (VPH for short). Or put more precisely:
Unique, targeted visitors acquired in a 30-day period divided by hours invested
Why 30 days?
You have to give it some kind of time limit, or you end up waiting hundreds of years to measure your results, and that’s not very pragmatic. Thirty days, on the other hand, is a good trial period. If it doesn’t produce results by then, you can adjust your strategy and try something else.
Of course, you might be wondering…
What’s a good ratio to shoot for?
If you’re an absolute beginner, and you have no audience at all, shoot for 50 visitors per hour (50 VPH). Scale the number up as your site becomes more successful.
I’ll go ahead and spare you the suspense, though. Almost none of the traffic techniques so-called experts recommend will get you 50 VPH. Here’s why:
The Two Types of Traffic Techniques
- Most experts seem completely oblivious to the fact that there are two very different types of traffic techniques:
- Those that work when you have an audience
Those that work when you do NOT have an audience
For example, you’ve heard you should publish great content, right?
And it’s true, you should… when you have an audience. You’ll get the highest possible VPH.
But before you have an audience?
It’s the worst. Of all the techniques my students have tried, publishing great content on their own site gave them the lowest VPH.
It seems absurd, but it’s true. Soon, I plan to publish an official study with precise numbers.
But you might be wondering…
If publishing content on your own site is so ineffective for beginners, why do so many experts recommend it?
they underestimate the importance of their own audience.
They don’t realize that the traffic they receive from publishing new content is the result of an audience who likes and trusts them sharing that content. Take away that audience, on the other hand, and the same content would fall flat and get them no results whatsoever.
The bottom line is the vast majority of traffic techniques depend on you having an audience. To be more precise, they depend on you having at least 1,000 subscribers who like and trust you. Anything less and the traffic techniques don’t work well at all.
Let’s go through them…
11 Traffic Techniques You Shouldn’t Be Using
According to our research, the following traffic techniques are NOT effective when you’re a beginner (and some aren’t ever effective):
On-page SEO: You’ve probably heard you need to choose keywords for your posts and then optimize each post for those keywords. You also might’ve heard about optimizing images, link structures, and choosing a WordPress theme with “good SEO.” According to our research though, these activities are almost a complete waste of time (low VPH) until you have a substantial audience. I’ll talk more about this one in a future post.
Commenting on Popular Blogs – Once upon a time, this used to be effective, but as the blogosphere grows, and popular blogs receive more and more comment spam, its VPH is falling dramatically. Yes, it can open doors to a future relationship with the blogger, but the traffic from click-throughs to your blog is no longer great enough to justify doing it.
Press Releases – Just to be clear, I’m not against press releases as a publicity technique. If you have a genuinely important story, and you want to connect with the press, a press release can still be effective. On the other hand, if you are publishing press releases to get links and traffic to your site, you’ll be sorely disappointed with the results. Yes, it can deliver both, but the traffic and links are untargeted and spammy, leading to visitors who have very little interest in your content.
Submitting Your Site to Directories – Years ago, submitting your site to directories used to be an essential part of SEO, but the benefits have largely disappeared. The only exceptions are high-quality, curated directories where you have to meet eligibility standards, kind of like winning an award. In general though, this strategy has been dead for a long time.
Answering Questions on Forums – Yes, it can certainly drive traffic, but it’s an enormous time sU-Ck. You can spend hundreds of hours answering questions, receiving maybe a few hundred visitors in return. The VPH is terrible.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. – This one is a surprise. As it turns out, building a following on any of these sites actually has the second lowest VPH of any of the techniques listed. If you’ve been fretting about finding the time for Facebook or Twitter, you can safely relax. You can ignore all of these platforms until you cross 1,000 blog subscribers.
Reddit, Hacker News, etc. – While these sites can drive enormous traffic, it’s difficult to get your content to the front page until you have lots of readers to vote for it. So again, cross this strategy off your list until you hit 1,000 blog subscribers.
Creating Videos for YouTube – Curiously, our students who start YouTube channels are often successful at getting views for their videos, but they struggle to turn those views into visitors and subscribers to their blogs. Also, they report struggling to find the time to maintain both their blog and YouTube channel. We may revisit this strategy again in the future, but for right now, the VPH in terms of actual blog traffic is mediocre at best, so we can’t recommend it for new bloggers.
Paying for a Unique Design – You’d think paying for a unique design would help establish your legitimacy and lead to more traffic, but in reality, it doesn’t seem to have any effect on traffic at all. You’re far better off using a free or inexpensive WordPress theme, and investing the money elsewhere.
Releasing Infographics – Not long ago, infographics were extremely powerful for driving traffic, and they still are, albeit to a lesser extent. The problem is, for an infographic to go viral, you need either an existing audience to help you promote it or a solid outreach strategy. As a standalone strategy, we can’t recommend it.
Publishing Great Posts – Much like infographics, great posts can also drive a lot of traffic, but again, you either need to do outreach or have a large existing audience to help you promote the post. As a standalone strategy, publishing great posts on your own blog actually seems to have the lowest VPH of all the techniques listed here.
Again, I’m not saying any of these techniques are inherently bad. I’m just saying they are an ineffective use of your time, especially when you’re a beginner. Until then, you’re much better off investing your time elsewhere.
So, which techniques actually work?
See the 4 Traffic Strategies That Will Boost Your blog Visitors
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