If you haven't been involved much with digital marketing, it's easy to simply equate web traffic with popularity. Why would lots of people be visiting a website if it wasn't popular?
But in reality, getting strong web traffic can come down to a lot more than just popularity. Sure, a brand that's attracting lots of real-life buzz will always tend to draw in visitors online, but the buzz factor isn't a total necessity for someone hoping to boost web traffic.
When you actually break it down, there are six broad methods of creating web traffic. Here they are.
The Internet can feel like a very random place sometimes, but there is nothing random about direct traffic. As its name implies, direct traffic occurs when someone has typed in the exact URL of a website into his or her search bar.
Web browsers help us out a lot when it comes to facilitating direct traffic. If you've previously visited a site and are searching for it again, you'll likely be given the option to auto-complete the URL based on recognition on the part of the browser. Nowadays, some go even further and show you a "top hit" or "suggested website."
Organic traffic is a direct result of a well-executed search engine optimization strategy. Any visitors who arrive to a website by clicking on a non-ad search result are considered to be examples of organic traffic.
Generating high amounts organic traffic requires a website's administrator(s) to check all of the SEO boxes: quality content, mobile optimization, solid loading time, effective keyword targeting, and so on. Do it right and you'll get all sorts of visitors stumbling on your website. Not by chance, but because you've perfectly followed the rules of the game.
Paid traffic is sort of like the opposite of organic traffic—which isn't to say that its a bad thing. Drawing scores of traffic through paid advertising is a common trait of most successful businesses.
The advantage of paid advertising is that it lands you the best real estate on the search engine results page. With a paid ad, your website could be the very first hit that a search engine user sees once the page loads. Though paying for traffic that could have been earned organically isn't an ideal scenario, it's still a pretty advisable move. Most businesses that spring for paid traffic don't end up regretting it.
When we talk about referred traffic, we're talking about link building. Though it sometimes gets a bad rap because of all the shady techniques used by Black Hat SEOs, link building remains an essential part of search engine optimization.
Anyone who arrives at your website via a link on an external website is considered referred traffic. Because of the nature of the Internet, this is one of the most common ways for people to discover new websites. Good content and concepts are always intriguing, so its only natural that people would be incentivized to refer others to them.
Social traffic is its own form of referral. With the rise and proliferation of social media in society, it has become one of the primary methods through which people explore the Internet. Think about it. People can get and share their news on Twitter or Facebook, be advertised to on Snapchat and YouTube, etc.
If a social media platform is the immediate catalyst that brings a visitor to a website, then that visitor counts as social traffic. Now that many social media platforms offer opportunities for promoted posts, social traffic could be either organic or paid.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing can be an extremely effective method of garnering web traffic. If people have given you permission to contact them by email, then there's a fairly good chance they'll take the time to check out what you've sent them.
Obviously that isn't the case for everybody—inbox messages can start to feel like spam in a hurry once the initial interest wears off—but its hard to argue with the logic of the method. Essentially a flyer for the post-digital revolution generation, it's a reminder that sometimes one of the best ways to get people in the door is to get in their doors first.