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Gaining traffic is a crucial element of ensuring that your web-based business is successful, because without it, who’s going to buy your products and generate income? Whether you have a brand-new site, or an established store that simply isn’t getting the recognition you’d like, low traffic can be frustrating and damaging to your success. But now is the time to put a stop to it. In this article, we’re going to help you do that…

How do I increase traffic to my online store?

First step – determine your goals

Ultimately, the main goal is to going to be to increase your traffic. That’s why you’re reading this, right? However, that goal on its own is very broad. For any site, this is where it pays to think about why you want more traffic. With a more specific reason in mind, you’re going to find it much easier to plan your strategy going forwards. Plus, knowing “why” is probably going to help highlight any problem areas that could be contributing to the traffic situation.

Being an e-commerce website, most of the time the general answer as to “why” is going to be to increase your customer base and your sales. That means reaching more people and catching their interest. So now you can begin to narrow down your goals to who you want to reach, which is going to determine how you’re going to reach them.

Appeal to your audience through your website

With your audience in mind, ensure that your site targets them effectively. Whilst this is important for appealing to people who actually visit your site, it’s also crucial for getting people there in the first place. Optimising the content on your site to suit what your audience are likely to be searching for is going to go a long way towards bringing people to you.

SEO is one of the most important aspects of gaining traffic, and you can read all about the foundations of SEO in detail via our in-depth blog series. But for now, let’s take a look at how you can start improving your rankings through content…

Keywords and content

Keyword and content' on a laptop

When it comes to SEO and content, you’ll likely hear the term “keyword” quite a lot. They’re vital for addressing search terms and getting your site further up the results pages on search engines. Now, if you’re looking to achieve a high position for every single possible keyword in existence, you’re going to run into some difficulties. However, targeting keywords that are directly relevant to your business and your audience is incredibly effective (and 100% recommended).

Simply knowing your industry and your audience enables you to carry out crucial keyword research to determine which keywords are going to be the best ones to target. You can find plenty of in-depth details on keyword targeting and research, including tools and resources that can make your optimisation much easier in part 2 of our foundations of SEO series. By researching and utilising keywords that reflect your audience’s searching habits, you can begin to tailor your content to target those keywords and move up the ever-growing ladder of search engine results.

This is a great place to start when you are thinking of growing the content on your site too. A well-thought-out strategy that consists of blog posts, videos, infographics and more can be used to rank for specific search terms. You can use this strategy to provide relevant, useful information that potential visitors want. Answer their questions, give them plenty of product information, guide them through tasks… Your content can do all of this and more, and providing that there are enough people searching for these terms/keywords, you’ll to start noticing a rise in traffic in no time.

Your tone of voice

Tying in to the above, your tone of voice is an incredibly important part of your online presence. It’s your identity. Your brand. You want your content and writing to reflect that effectively. We’ve spoken about tone and how it can affect your image and performance in previous posts (such as our article on how to make every word in your content count), but it’s just as important for traffic.

With this in mind, it pays to ensure that the writing on your site reflects you accurately. This means that any written content, be it a blog post or a product listing, must be equally appropriate for your audience/target market. That tone will go a long way towards helping you target certain keywords, which in turn will help your rankings for certain search terms. However, it also means that your writing is more likely to be original, read naturally, and provide a unique source of information for potential visitors. All of which are a plus when it comes to improving your organic search engine results rankings.

Offer people something they can’t get elsewhere

Many people refer to knowledge as the ultimate wealth. Whilst it may not directly pay your bills, knowledge certainly does lead to many, many positives, including the ability to actually make money with it. Knowing something that nobody else knows then, becomes incredibly valuable. A similar concept applies to e-commerce, particularly with regards to written content.

Again, this ties in with both of the above points, but having the ability to offer unique information that isn’t available elsewhere is going to dramatically improve your chances of gaining a higher organic ranking. This is especially important for product pages.

If you’ve spent much time browsing for certain products on the web, you may have noticed that a lot of retailers use similar (and quite often identical) content to describe/advertise the products they’re selling. This offers nothing new for visitors, and can hurt organic rankings due to search engines deeming the page to have no extra useful information in comparison to more authoritative sources. Deepen your research and give your visitors a unique insight into the products you’re selling. Combined with an original tone of voice and effective keyword research, you’ll be much, much closer to bringing your product pages closer to the top spots on search engine results pages.

Google and Microsoft Ads

You’ve seen them, and chances are, you’ve probably clicked/tapped on them too. Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) and Microsoft Ads (formerly known as Bing Ads) have become one of the most effective ways to drive traffic directly to any website. Now, you could easily write a whole book on Paid Ads or PPC advertising (pay-per-click) and how they work, there’s quite a lot to cover, but for now let’s take a look at how they can benefit your traffic situation:

Blurred Google logo

You have the chance to appear above the results on the pages of some of the world’s largest search engines

This in itself is one of the major reasons that many businesses opt for Paid Ads in their marketing strategies. Ads allow you to take the spot above the results on searches, even above heavily optimised sites and web pages. This is extremely valuable when it comes to driving traffic to your store as your ads are instantly in view when people are searching for things. You’ll also likely begin to see results much quicker than simply relying on organic SEO. But don’t neglect optimising your pages, that is a crucial part of gaining and maintaining long-term traffic,being less reliant on Paid Ads in the future, as well as ensuring that your landing page remains relevant to the advert (which could also affect the cost-per-click).

Google, in particular, has an enormous reach

It’s no secret that Google is the largest search engine currently in existence, with 86% of all searches being carried out through Google. You’ve most likely heard or said “I’ll Google it” many, many times in the past couple of decades. The fact that Google has become a verb that is so widely used in our lives shows just how much we rely on it every single day. With this in mind, being able to display adverts to such a vast audience based on their search behaviour is going to benefit your traffic situation extensively.

Powerful configuration options

Getting your Paid Ads all setup and working can take a little bit of time, but that time is most definitely well spent. When setting up your campaign, you’re able to configure your adverts to address your specified audience and search terms. You should consider the keywords that you want your ads to show for, negative keywords that you don’t want your adverts to show for, locations targeting (to avoid advertising to individuals who may be unable to access your products or services at all based on where they are in the world), the copy you intend to use for your ad (keep it relevant to search terms and your chosen keywords), and the landing page that you want the ad to lead to. You’re also able to remarket your ads to individuals who may have visited your site, but may not have made a purchase/converted for example, or you can suppress previous visitors in order to prioritise new leads. All of this gives you effective ways to target your desired audience and minimise any wasted clicks which could end up costing you more money.

Comprehensive collection of extensions

Using Paid Ads allows you to take advantage of a wide array of ad extensions. These are a great way to improve the performance of your ad, as they’re able to help you display more information and tools to increase the chances of people clicking it. Google actually found that “on average there is a 10-15% uplift from implementing a new ad extension“. Typically, extensions can be used to add call buttons, relevant location information, links to different areas of your site other than your landing page, add extra text, and much more. It’s recommended to utilise any extensions that you need without detracting from the informative and helpful nature of your ad. Extensions should not cost you any extra, Google for example, will simply charge you as normal as if the ad had been clicked without any extensions.

Cost-per-click/pay-per-click pricing system

With regards to paying for your Paid Ads, they are charged per click that your ad receives. The prices can be vastly different for keywords and search terms, with some costing considerable amounts of money per click depending on the competition. However, for the most part, that cost is generally relatively low. Google and Microsoft also allows you to set a maximum budget, which puts you in complete control of what you’re spending on your advertising. This means no nasty financial surprises if the cost-per-click of one of the keywords you’re using undergoes a dramatic fluctuation. Plus, you can switch your campaign on or off (including temporary pauses) at any time, so you don’t have to worry about racking up an excessive bill when your ads aren’t needed either.

Consistent and effective ad performance analysis

With more traditional forms of advertising, such as TV and radio adverts, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards and posters etc., it can sometimes provide difficult to determine how effective  ads are performing. Google and Microsoft Ads on the other hand provides you with a way to analyse exactly how well your ads are doing. The platforms are able to give you details on who clicked your ads, how many leads your ads have generated, the traffic you’ve obtained through the ads, what your most effective keywords have been, and how much each lead has cost you. This allows you to further optimise your existing and future ads in order to get the best return on investment and further improve your campaign’s performance. If you link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account, you’ll have even more information at your disposal to work with too.

Take advantage of social media

Gone are the days of social media being a platform simply for keeping in touch with each other. Today, social media has become such a powerful, widely-used solution for businesses, big or small, to really make their mark.

'All we need is likes' graffiti

Facebook and Instagram

One such example that has evolved dramatically over the years is Facebook. This versatile platform has always had a reputation for being a good place to build more awareness for your brand, but these days you have even more control and significantly improved capabilities right at your fingertips.

As one of the most popular platforms around, Facebook is the perfect place to advertise your business and draw through additional traffic to your website. On top of the ability to directly engage with customers (both existing and potential ones) through direct messages, publish posts and much, much more, Facebook offers intelligent advertising solutions that can provide the perfect opportunity for boosting your site’s traffic.

Using Facebook’s display adverts allows you to put yourself directly in front of a specified audience. You can tailor who the ad is shown to based on a wide variety of parameters using information that Facebook collects from its users. This enables you to use your ads to directly target your desired market with ease.

One of the few downsides to Facebook advertising is that the click-through rate when compared to Google Ads can often be lower as the audience is passive rather than actively searching for products and services. However, the advertising also works via pay-per-click (much like Google), and Facebook’s cost-per-click is much lower. The lower cost offsets the lower click-through -rate and you are likely to attract customers who didn’t even realise that they wanted to buy from you. This can potentially lead to a better return on investment depending on the performance of your ads.

As a side note, Facebook bought Instagram a few years ago, and both utilise the same advertising platforms. When creating and implementing your ad campaigns, you’ll notice a convenient option that allows you to show your ad on Instagram too. As two of the most prolific social media platforms in existence today, Facebook and Instagram are able to provide exceptional opportunities for any online store.

Competitions, promotions and incentives

Social media is also the perfect platform for publishing any current promotions you’re running from your store. If you don’t currently have any, or you haven’t run one at all (or even for a while), a simple competition or an incentive-based promotion such as a healthy discount can work wonders for your traffic situation.

Most social media platforms provide intuitive ways to share published posts, and even adverts! Utilising a competition that people are able to enter by ‘liking and sharing’ on relevant platforms can help to give you extra visibility to people who may not be aware of your business as of yet. Many people on social media have a wide-ranging network of people who see what they post and share, and competitions have a strong reputation for peaking people’s interests. The people who don’t currently follow you may begin to engage with you and further share your posts to their own network, rapidly increasing your visibility as well as the overall awareness of your brand. If you couple the ability to share with a link to your site, or even a sign-up page for a newsletter, you can begin reaching more and more people through a multitude of different channels quite quickly.

You could also implement a referral incentive for competition entries and regular post sharing. For example, offering a small discount code for anyone who shares certain posts is likely to drive more and more people to engage with you. Who doesn’t love a discount code?

Influencers

Social media has birthed a new way to market products over recent years. Influencers have become a solid resource for businesses to work alongside in order to gain more visibility, promote their products, and obtain more direct traffic. It’s easy to see why they have become so popular within the e-commerce world:

Influencers tend to have an extremely large following

It’s not uncommon to see influencers with a number of followers reaching into 6 and even 7 digits. With hundreds of thousands (and sometimes millions) of people viewing and engaging with their posts and content, that’s a considerable amount of visibility for your products or store. Influencers will generally include links to product pages or websites within their social media posts or content (such as YouTube videos etc.), meaning there’s a lot of potential for direct traffic available from a previously untapped audience.

Influencers quite often appeal to specific audiences

Many of the thousands of followers that influencers have are likely to have similar interests. This means that a large quantity of their audience is likely to be interested in specific things, such as the products or branding that your store can offer. This helps a great deal when it comes to gaining interest in what you do, meaning you could potentially have a higher click-through rate when compared to certain other methods. It also means that you should choose the influencers that you approach carefully in order to maximise the benefits of influencer marketing. Research their audience, their content, and how they go about delivering said content.

People trust and listen to the advice of influencers, which can lead to more trust in your business

People who follow influencers view them as credible, relevant and trustworthy sources. The information and advice that they provide through their content is therefore also seen as credible, relevant and trustworthy. If an influencer recommends your products or services to their followers, people are going to put that trust in you too. This means people are more likely to follow any links provided by the influencer, gaining you more traffic from a trustworthy source, as well as a higher chance of repeat purchases in the future (providing that their experience runs smoothly and they are able to obtain what they want).

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Backlinking

Combining SEO with the direct traffic capabilities of authoritative domains, back-linking is a great way to boost the visibility of your brand and store. This effective marketing method is essentially hosting blog posts and content on other websites in order to generate external links to your own website. By having these external links, not only do people visiting those sites (which often boast good organic rankings on search engine results pages) they have the ability to click the link and visit your site, but those links also help the SEO side of your site too. They make it easier for crawlers to navigate to your site, and because that link is hosted on a trusted domain, this can give your site a “vote of confidence” which can lead to search engines deeming that page that has been linked to as worthy of showing up higher on their results pages.

The process of creating back-linking content is much like creating content for your own site, with a few differences. Firstly, many sites may have guidelines (which can sometimes be quite strict) that you must follow with the content you intend to post. These can include anything from the amount of links you’re allowed to include within  your content, to word counts, tone and quality. Following these guidelines before submitting your content to the site is a must, as it dramatically improves the chances that your work will be accepted and published.

You should also take note of whether the links you’re allowed to post should be no-follow links or not. No-follow links are designed to specifically instruct search engines not to follow said link. However, if the site in question is a high-authority source, the mention of your site on theirs can help to boost your visibility and brand awareness.

Secondly, you should consider the site that you’re intending to gain back-links from. As mentioned above, authoritative, trustworthy sites are the best places to target. A low-authority site that may be perceived as spammy could potentially cause search engines to penalise your website.

It’s definitely worth spending the time to research your potential back-linking opportunities in detail. This allows you to meet any content or linking guidelines as well as being able to explore the authority of the hosting site. It is also possible to check how back-linking has been utilised by your competitors in order to gain a deeper understanding of what may or may not have worked for them.

That’s all for now

There are plenty of ways, both free and paid, that you can utilise to increase traffic to your online store, but hopefully the above has given you an overview of what to consider.

However, if you’d like to know more, why not get in touch with us and find out how we can help?

In the meantime, take a look at our blog section further and explore our ever-expanding collection of insights and advice. You can keep up with everything we post by liking the Agency51 Facebook page or giving us a follow @Agency51 on Twitter!

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon is a Content and Digital Marketing Executive at Agency51 with a passion for all things writing and marketing-related. From adverts and email campaigns, to long-form blog posts and instructional guides - he’s spent the last three and a half years crafting engaging copy in an e-commerce environment, and now spends his time developing a diverse range of long and short-form content for a variety of different industries.

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