The name of the game for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small businesses is website traffic. Sessions, or visits, to your website is probably the single most accurate indicator of the success of your business. Tons of traffic means increased revenue; little to no traffic means you likely have little to no revenue coming in. And every level in between.
So the answer is simple: Get more website traffic. But the path to that result is not so easy or obvious.
In this article, I’m going to outline a very easy process that you can follow to get more website traffic. It does this by building links back to your website.
These links are not bot links, or “black hat” link farming sites that you put up to artificially inflate the number of links back to your site that Google thinks you have. Rather, these are links that come from partnering with other real people, such as yourself, who see benefit in working with you.
I am not claiming that this is the only way to increase traffic to your website. Nor am I claiming that it is guaranteed to increase your traffic one hundred fold. But it does work, and if followed consistently, it will definitely result in more sessions to your site.
So here it is, in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Perform a Google search of your industry and identify sites not on the first page of results
This is the important first step of the process. Whatever your industry or niche is, you’ll want to do a Google search to find others who are in the same industry.
The websites you find are going to be your potential link partners. Eventually you’re going to reach out to them. But we’re not there yet. First we need to make sure they’re the right fit.
(Here’s an objection that is often raised to this idea: People say, “You’re actively promoting your competitors and should never do that.” This is simply wrong. In the world of online content marketing and SEO, there is so much so called “competition” out there that Google has deemed it a benefit if you are more connected. If many people in the same industry are linking back to your site, Google will heap rewards upon you in the form of high ranking search results. So do not be afraid to reach out to people who have similar content to you.)
Make sure you are not selecting a high profile company or someone from the first page of Google. The sites you identify should be on the second page of search results, or further.
This is critical, because if you select a site that is too high profile, and your site is only a start-up or one that is not widely recognized, you will not get a response.
And there likely is no page results ranking too low, especially if your website is just starting out, or if you currently have low traffic. Finding someone from the tenth page of Google results is just fine. Maybe don’t go to page 50, but apart from that, you’re more likely to get a response from someone ranked lower than a “first-pager”.
Throughout this blog post I’ll use an example from another website of mine called lowglycemicindexplan.com, specifically looking at the blog post, Low GI Breakfast.
One of the most common search terms for this industry is “Low Glycemic Foods”. So I searched this term, and browsed until I found a site I liked on the third page of search results called optimalfoods.org.
I found this to be an ideal candidate to prospect as a link partner. Why? This is Step 2 of the process.
Step 2: Pick a website and vet it thoroughly
Thorough vetting is important. This means you should check and make sure that this potential link building website partner is good enough.
To go back to my example, optimalfoods.org, I knew this could be a good potential link building partner once I saw the quality content.
Here are are some more reasons why I chose this website as a potential link partnership to reach out to.
- It was on the third page of Google search results for a keyword in my industry.
- The website was not any brand that I have ever heard of.
- The content on this website was excellent. I not only enjoyed reading it, but I found the information useful and very well organized.
- It was not a spam or scam website, just had legitimate information that real people would find interesting. In other words, you only want to select websites that you would feel comfortable recommending to a friend or family member.
- It was not buried on the 50th page of results or lower. This was not a fancy looking website with the latest graphics that were produced by a slick agency, but I knew it was credible and had some legitimate traffic because Google was ranking it on the third page of results.
You should apply these reasons when looking for your potential link partner too.
Step 3 – Add links on your website to your potential link partnership website and reach out to them
The next step is to make the first move in creating your partnership. This means adding a link on your website back to the potential partner’s site. Because this is a gesture of generosity and kindness, people will often respond positively and want to help you back.
This can be any page you think is relevant on your website, and also any page that is relevant on the potential partner’s website.
Make sure that you are integrating the link in a way that makes sense within the context of your post. This should not be difficult, since the potential partner website is in a similar market to you.
Here is an example of the link I created back to optimalfoods.org:
In addition, creating this link on your page gives you the added benefit of improved SEO, as Google rewards sites that it thinks are well-researched and supported by outside information. Adding links gives Google evidence that you are doing just that.
You’ll obviously want to make sure that whomever you choose as a potential link building partner has a clear, easy way to contact them. This can be via an email that they list on their website, a contact us form, or a profile on social media.
In this example, it was obvious from the start how to get in touch with optimalfoods.org.
I recommend keeping a form-email on hand to fill in the blanks for each website you contact. Here’s an example of one that I have used:
I LOVE your article about ((((_____fill in the blank______)))), thank you SO much for the great information. I run a website called ((((_____insert URL here______)))) and it’s all about ((((_____fill in the blank______)))). In fact I added a link to your blog post on my website here: ((((_____provide link here______))))
I would be SO appreciative if you added a link back to my site as well 🙂
Thanks again for the awesome artile.
This is quick, to the point, and lets them know that you have already taken the initiative in promoting their site.
Step 4 – Index the revised page with Google Search Console
Strictly speaking, this step is not exactly about creating link building partnerships, but it is important none-the-less.
As I stated before, adding outbound links on your web pages bolsters your SEO strength. This is viewed as an asset in the eyes of Google, and they will rank your page higher in search engine results if it is well researched, meaning that it refers to external sources for support in the form of links.
So, make sure you take the step of going to Google Search Console, and performing a Fetch and Render of the page. After that, also in Search Console, request the site be indexed. This will instruct Google to re-index the page with the new link, and therefore – hopefully – increase the on-page value and potential for SEO.
I have already written about how to do this in another blog post here.
Since you are going through the effort of improving your article by adding a link to the page, you might as well cash in on this improved SEO strength by notifiying Google. Even if the potential link partner doesn’t respond, you still have the added value of the additional link on your page.
Step 5 – Repeat this process throughout your website and grow your relationships with those who respond
You should attempt this process for all the most important blog posts on your website. Also, you can do this multiple times on one post. You do not have to limit the number of outbound links on your page to one only.
The more people you reach out to, the greater the chances that people will respond and help you with links back to your site.
And this increases traffic. That is the beauty of this process. Unlike on page SEO techniques that “should” improve traffic, this will, for sure, definitely increase traffic to your website once people add links back to your site.
Let’s look again at the example that I provided earlier, optimalfoods.org. It so happened that the person who ran this website did respond. And he was willing to add a link back to my site.
The results of this were immediately impactful, as traffic from his website became the number one source of my overall traffic, even above all direct and organic search. (figure below)
Not only that, the engagement metrics for this group was on par with the other visitors to my website, indicating that users found the content relevant. The session duration was even greater than visitors from other traffic sources.
Looking at the traffic over a long period of time, you can see the positive impact that this referral had. The link from optimalfoods.org provided a long-term reliable source of more traffic, from my target audience.
But here is the lesson that I learned from this link building partnership: it is critical to keep the relationship going.
This is what I failed to do, and over time (sometime during October 2017 to be exact), they took my link down, and the flow of traffic from this channel stopped. Here is the traffic boost my link building partner provided, and also when it stopped:
It was not that I did anything wrong or changed anything for the worse on my site. It was that I didn’t keep in touch enough.
So, by all means, keep your relationships going with strong partners. Do this by whatever means possible. Keep adding more links on your site to your partner’s site. Promote your partner’s site on social media, and in email newsletters.
When you find a good link building partner who provides steady traffic, continually promote them, and continually remind them that you are promoting them.
Those who do not respond to your inquiries, feel free to remove their links from your site and replace them with some of your partners who do respond and help you. This could be the difference between keeping a steady flow of ever-growing traffic, and having it decrease over time.