Alternative traffic sources to Google Search

After learning why you should forget Google search traffic, you will naturally wonder about what alternative traffic sources there are to get traffic to your site/business.

Actually there are a lot of alternatives. Let’s have a look, and keep it practical :

Social Media | Facebook | Google Plus | Twitter | Pinterest | Stumble Upon | Reddit | Digg | Delicious | Tumblr | Linkedin | Other Social Networks

Community Forums & Websites | Buying advertising | Mailing list | Memorable Site Name/Domain | Basic SEO


Social Media

Social media is people. And it works. It’s the modern version of ‘mouth to mouth’, and it works fast. Not to mention the more shares there are for your page/site, it improves search engine standing as well – automatically. You would need to participate in discussions, threads, shares – whatever they do in a particular social network, in order to gain traction and increase your social circle at first. Afterwards you can go through your own social connects. If you have enough connections, you can just keep going with your own connections instead of participating in others’ shares.

The only problem with social media traffic is that, it comes fast and goes fast. Probably mainly because people are used to being bombarded with shares, briefly visiting the shared links, and then just liking/sharing the share in their own profile. However despite that social media can swiftly increase your presence and recognition on internet.

Let’s see how various dominant social networks work for getting traffic :

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Forget it. Totally not worth it. In order to force people to pay for advertisements, they hardened their EdgeRank algorithm SO much that even in a pristine page with totally original and engaged users, any of your shares reach only to 2% of your followers. If those 2% actually like, share or comment under it (interacting), the visibility increases a little bit more. For each interaction it increases more. Supposedly this will ensure the virality of the content.

But the reality is even with many interactions, your content will reach around 10 to 20% of your followers. This is accurate even for INDIVIDUALS, instead of pages – so imagine – they want you to pay for showing your status updates to your cousins, distant relatives. Outright hilarious. But then again, they are another privately owned company who want to maximize their profits.

Just forget Facebook, but put a Facebook page like button on your site so that you may get some following there in case Facebook realizes the ridiculousness of what they are doing in future. If you are using WordPress or a similar application which can push your updates automatically to a Facebook page, you may implement that since it doesn’t require any effort. Otherwise just don’t bother with updates.

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Google Plus

We have another ‘not worth it’ here. Not only it was not able to gain the traction of other social networks, but it also alienated what it was able to gather by enforcing real name policies and whatnot. The ‘author rank’ they were going to implement for ranking content in search engines based on an individual linked author’s standing did not work out either. Since there is so few people using the social network, not to mention the ones who are actually taking author rank seriously and implementing it are fewer in number. All the coding/ui gimmicks they are doing with the interface, or trying to force Google Talk users to move to web based interface to push Google Plus did not work either. So its totally not worth it.

Another failed whimsical, forced push by Google. That’s what happens when some people in a corporate team decide what people like and what people should do, instead of letting people decide themselves.

Like Facebook – put a follow link so people can follow your page in Google Plus, but otherwise practically forget. They don’t even have an API to allow external applications to properly update Google Plus pages. So just forget it.

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Now we have something. Not only Twitter does not play with its users like they were mindless drones, they don’t try to push things they don’t like or try to force them to pay for sharing stuff either. It’s one of the best social networks to be on. Not to mention there are plugins, addons for any application to push updates to Twitter.

Put follow buttons and gain followers. Participate properly in Twitter, posting your updates, also participating in ongoing discussions. Use it like a normal person would, even if you are openly participating with your company/business profile.

The traffic Twitter is sending is noticeable. But due to nature of the platform, your status updates can get buried in endless chatter, so you must time your important updates according to your target audience. Or, try to encourage people to put you in a certain list they follow.

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Used to be #3 or #4th biggest traffic sender on internet until recently. However, due to the recent ‘algorithm changes’, they seem to have reduced the virality of the shares a lot. It seems they are preparing for ‘sponsored pins’ in order to push for profit, just like how Facebook screwed up their own service.

But still one of the good traffic senders, so you should set up one or more boards there and engage in this platform. You can open your account as an individual and set up boards for your own websites, one for each. Or you can join as a business and do it that way.

Pinterest is VISUAL. So your shares must be accompanied by visually catching pictures. Also, the majority of users are women. This should also be a consideration for participating in Pinterest.

Regardless, it is a social network which still sends noticeable traffic.

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Stumble Upon

One of the best discovery engines and traffic senders on internet. Depending on how many people click the like button when SU brings them to your page, the virality of your page goes very high. Tens of thousands of people may come overnight to a page if it is quite interesting, even if the page was set up yesterday.

The downside of Stumble Upon is that it is very easy and habitual to click the ‘Stumble’ button to be taken to a new page. So, don’t think that visitors who come through Stumble Upon will stay and engage with your site. You’d better have a easy, short and catching message and action. Otherwise they will just go away.

Spamming Stumble Upon with your links is not appropriate either. You must occasionally share your content, and only good content in that.

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Not worth it. A very quirky community in which someone immediately votes down your share. Way too picky and problematic to engage. Not to mention having zillions of rules for every board. The /r/funny subreddit has more rules than a hospital maternity ward. Talk about being funny. Not to mention that sharing things from your own websites are frowned upon. As if everyone and their dog does not have a website these days.

You may try occasional shares in relevant subreddits. Otherwise don’t bother.

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Similar to reddit, except they have become even more picky than reddit to increase their content quality. Which reduces down content available and it’s virality.

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Not sure whether it works for any segment than a certain sub-segment of US internet audience. Rather, don’t bother.

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They have their own Ecosystem, their own subculture. Like reddit. Whether it’s worth bothering is up to you.

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Linked In

This one is especially good if your business or website is catering to well-defined, traditional business activities. It is considered as a platform for serious business, so you will find every member brandishing their proper career credentials and history there. If your website is in a professional field, get all the way in to Linked In. If your business or website is about general content which appeals to general populace, don’t bother.

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There are many smaller social networks, with this or that flavor. These you must examine before joining, based on the nature of your website. Main points to look for are always :

  • Virality of shares should not be reduced to push for advertising
  • Relevant audience
  • Must not frown on shares from people’s own websites

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Community Forums & Websites

This is the real deal. Today, the links, presence acquired from community forums and websites are STILL sending proper traffic to people’s websites, despite all the algorithm changes and turbulence that goes on around Google.

Not to mention that niche communities and websites relevant to your website/business increase your brand awareness and your reputation as time goes on.

Find and join the community forums and websites relevant to your website/business. Participate as a proper member, engaging with people, also sharing your content. Make sure that sharing your own content is allowed first. Also, whether they allow it in only a specific subsection of the forum/website.

Be very careful – reputation in forums stay forever. If you screw up your reputation in any point for anything, you wont be able to recover it in the future. Therefore, behave.

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Buying Advertising

This traditional method still works well. But, instead of going to Google Adwords and paying an arm and a leg for minimum returns, go find relevant niche websites and forums and buy advertisements from them. This would not only be unbelievably cheap compared to Google Adwords and the like, but also would increase your visibility in community forums and websites. Which participates to brand awareness and most importantly : your reputation.

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Mailing List

That one is still a very good traffic bringer. Put up a mailing list registration widget in your website. You may use MailChimp or Google’s Feedburner emailing services to do the mailing. Feedburner is automatic and sends the list of new content you posted every day.

You have to use an external service because if you use your own domain and email service you may risk being mistaken for spam and getting blacklisted. These services are usually not blacklisted by major mail providers.

This one is something you should have no matter what. It will always stay relevant, and it can be moved from service to service because you will have your own mailing list in the files.

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Easy to remember site name, domain

If you didn’t launch the website yet or changing the domain name, make sure your site has an easy to remember and use site name & domain. Put your site name in your logo with big letters, so that people who see it when visiting your website will remember the domain name and also your site name. If the site name and domain name are the same, it’s the best. This will make people remember your site/business, and the domain name.

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Basic SEO

That you may do better to forget Google search traffic, does not mean that you should not do basic, universal SEO on your site. Since there are other search engines than Google, and even if a lot of criteria changes, some basic criteria doesn’t change – your site should have :

  • Meta Title
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords
  • Sitemap
  • Proper H1, H2 titles etc
  • Not too many outgoing links

Forget what some people say about meta keywords – its still being used by search engines, bots, crawlers. And they are useful for summarizing or classifying websites.

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See, there are many other ways to create a stable, developing website/business without relying on whims of Google. Instead of being suicidal and foolish, try to build your traffic from reliable sources that actually endure. These may even positively effect seo standing depending on the algorithm changes that search engines do over the years.

But the most important thing is, you will know how much your traffic is, you will be able to increase the traffic with your own effort, and no one will be able to take it away from you on a whim without you being able to do anything about it.

And good thing is, with this approach, the traffic you receive is proportional to the effort and money you put into it.

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