Referral Traffic – How To Drive More Traffic To Your Website

Referral traffic comes from backlinks, or links to your website from other websites. When you get the right links, they can be continual traffic sources back to your website. Some backlinks can even generate more links on their own. This happens when someone shares your blog post to Facebook, and then his or her followers share it with their social circles afterward. Backlinks also come from forum links, ebooks, webinars, email, and so on.

Benefits of Referral Traffic

Here are just a few of the benefits of referral traffic:

  • Improve SEO as backlinks are part of Google’s ranking algorithm
  • Boosting brand recognition, reputation, and exposure
  • Developing networking opportunities and generating future leads
  • Help you tap into a new, diverse audience base you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to

Referral Traffic Strategies

Comment on Relevant Blogs

Blog commenting can be a huge source of referral traffic. Most sites ask you to fill out form fields prior to writing a comment. One of those fields is for placing a link to your website. Meaningful comments – and this is key – will intrigue readers to click the links and drive traffic.

Keep in mind that this tactic has been heavily exploited by spammers. That’s why you need to be sure to follow these ideas for commenting on relevant blogs:

  • Make an observation and reference a related post on your own blog, so you can link to the post within your comment.
  • Ask thoughtful questions about the post or give your professional opinion.
  • Create a list of the top 10 blogs in your niche, and comment on their posts regularly.
  • Sign up for a Disqus account so you can easily comment on websites that use the Disqus commenting platform
Get Social Media Buttons

According to a 2015 Search Engine Journal post, social media accounts for almost 30% of all referral traffic.

Let’s face it – social media is here to stay for now. If you want to boost your traffic, make your content easier to share. Share buttons are a must-have for making sharing more accessible. If you don’t have these on your website, talk to your website guru now.

social sharing - how to drive referral traffic

Guest Blog

Guest Blogs are usually published with an author bio that includes your name and a link back to your site. Depending on the site’s rules, you might also be able to link back to something actionable – like a top blog post or ebook you’ve created.

If you’re a massage therapist looking for blogs in your niche that accept guest posts, try a Google Search for something like “massage therapy “become a contributor”” or “massage therapy “write for us””. Quotation marks are for exact search, meaning Google will only return results containing that exact phrase word-for-word.

  • “become a contributor”
  • “write for us”
  • “contribute an article”
  • “submit your post”
  • “accepting guest posts”
  • “guest post guidelines”
  • “submission guidelines”

guest post guidelines example

Once you’ve identified guest blog posting opportunities, read the guidelines, and apply to be a guest post contributor. With calls to action, external links, and author bios, guest posting is a good way to gain referral traffic.

Participate in Local Events

It goes without saying that nothing beats an in-person speaking event. By participating in local events, you can also get website referral traffic because you will be publicized on a website and if you’re lucky, local reporters may even cover the event.

Contribute to Q&A Sites

The strategy behind submitting to social question and answer websites is similar to blog commenting. You need to make sure that your contributions are relevant and valuable. One of the best strategies for answering questions is to showcase your expertise on the subject matter and link back to a related post on your blog.

Quora is a good place to start.

Final Thoughts

By adding these referral traffic building tactics to your tool kit, you’re planting seeds that will help your internet marketing garden grow.

Why You Need to Optimize Your Google My Business Page

One of the most important things you can do to rank well in local SEO is to optimize your Google My Business page. Chances are high that if you haven’t done this yet, a Google representative has been hounding you with robocalls to set up your Google My Business page.

Local SEO is so significant that almost half of all Google searches are local, and this will become even more significant in 2018.

When it comes to local searches, the information Google uses to rank your website — and that  it displays to people in local results — comes mostly from your Google My Business page, not from your website. You can set up your Google My Business page directly with Google, but it’s important that you verify your listing so that nobody else is able to edit your page in the future.

Your Google My Business page must include:

  • a proper and unique description of your business,
  • the correct business category
  • local phone number and address that is consistent elsewhere online
  • relevant photos of your business,
  • plenty of 5-star reviews

Google gives a lot of weight to the reviews. But as you may be aware, reviews aren’t always easy to get. Even a business with loyal and satisfied customers must work hard to get them.

The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review for you, such as on Google My Business listings and Facebook. You can always repurpose these reviews in other areas such as in email newsletters or on your website. One site that makes this particularly easy is Whitespark. Check out their Google My Business Review Link Generator.

If you run a local business, it’s important to make the steps above a priority. Whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, it’s important to respond to it. It shows others reading the reviews that you care what your customers think and that you are willing to dedicate time to their own unique experiences and needs.

If you set up a Google My Business page and make a concerted effort to build your reviews, your local search engine rankings will improve and help you compete with your local competition.


Why You Should Add a Promo Video to Your Small Business Website

Did you know that 45% of businesses use promo videos on their home page?

Unlike other video content you may use on your website, promo videos give you a chance to introduce yourself and explain what you do.

You can use promo videos on your small business home page, services page, or a product landing page to promote:

  • your products through demonstrations, 360 videos, etc.
  • your company by educating visitors on your business history, your organization’s focus on philanthropy, strong leadership, or some other meaningful item worth highlighting.
  • how a service works to improve the lives of others – this would work well for a non-profit organization.
  • how a product works – what it does and why someone should buy it.

Promotional videos have powerful benefits for business.

Humanize Your Brand

Have you ever noticed how much more effective a marketing pitch is if it comes from a neighbor or a friend or a human being who’s making a friendly pitch? Promotional videos with a strong human element help visitors connect to your brand.

AirBnB does this extremely well. Take a look at their What is Airbnb video below.

Beat Your Competition

If your competitors don’t yet have a promotional video, beat them to the punch. Your promotional video will show your visitors that you, your product, or your process is more transparent than that of your competitors. And when they put up their promotional video, they might appear to just be copycats.

Keep Traffic On Your Website / Help Visitors Stay Longer

Promotional videos help visitors interact with your website in a new and sometimes more intimate manner. Many visitors prefer watching a video over reading content, so a promotional video can also help you sell your products.

Speak Their Language

For many service-based businesses, it can be difficult to explain to prospective customers what you do or why they may need your service. This is even more true for tech companies or companies selling complicated products. A promotional video with a layman speaking can serve to cut through technical jargon.

Start A Conversation

If you have a brand new website or business, a promo video can initiate the conversation or experience a prospective customer may have with a brand.

Give Visitors Something To Share

People love sharing videos. 92% of people who watch videos on their phones share them with others. As long as the videos are configured so that they are responsive and work on mobile devices, they’ll basically have no excuse to not share yours.

This Old Spice video has 54,579,655 views on YouTube:

Increase Search Visibility

If you have great content, people will spend more time on your website. The more time that people spend on your website, the bigger reward Google will have for you in terms of search visibility.

How to Make a Great Promo Video

There are certain trends and phenomena that great promo videos have in common. These are:

  • Great promo videos are short. Usually less than 60 seconds in length.
  • Great promo videos are fun and engaging.
  • Great promo videos are located on relevant pages, landing pages, product pages, and always at the top of the page.
  • Great promo videos always have a call to action.
  • Great promo videos are always high quality. They don’t have to be high budget but they don’t have spelling errors or rough cuts.

It’s very important to only use high quality videos. You would never throw content on your website that’s half completed or full of errors. You also wouldn’t leave broken links on your site or use tiny images or text that visitors can’t see or read. A promotional video needs to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the content on your site and a low quality production could compromise that.

5-Step Checklist for Revamping Your Small Business Online Presence

According to Adweek, 81% of consumers conduct research online before buying something. You almost certainly already know this and pivoted your business storefront online years ago, but unless you are remarkably vigilant of the latest trends, your online presence could probably use an upgrade.

Changes continuously sweep across the internet, social media, Google, and the content marketing world. Your online business presence must change too, or you risk receding into obscurity, stagnating with an out-of-touch website or, god forbid, a MySpace page. Most small businesses aren’t maximizing their online presence. Less than half of small businesses advertise online, pay attention to Search Engine Optimization, or have a social media presence, and a quarter of small businesses don’t have a website at all.

For those who wish to gain a competitive advantage, consider this 5-step checklist for revamping your online presence before 2017:

  1. Re-assess and Segment Your Target Market

Before you make any actual changes to your online presence, it’s important reconsider your target market. Identify the common characteristics of your target market. Then segment that market into specific groups of people. Without segments to focus on, you will never have a highly-focused and effective campaign.

For example, an online clothing store has segmented their market – men’s and women’s – to push customers down the sales funnel toward their desired destination. Customers are looking for something specific from you – so direct them to that segmented goal.

  1. Listen to and Engage with Your Audience

Now that you have your target market segments, engage with them and conduct some experiments. Find the best channels to interact with your potential clients. Social media platforms often break down along demographic lines. Do you have a professional, career-oriented customer base? Try LinkedIn. Focused more on female creatives? Try Pinterest. Once you’ve zeroed in, engage with your audience, track their online activity, and set up Google Alerts to figure out how to best design your online presence to match your audience’s tendencies.

  1. Optimize Your Landing Pages for Conversions

The main goal of improving your online presence is to maximize conversions, turning a casual visitor to your website into a customer. Your landing page is therefore mission critical. Most site visitors spend only up to 8 seconds before leaving your landing page. This means that you must use the most effective design tactics possible to keep your visitor’s attention and readily satisfy their needs. Also remember that every page on your site is a possible landing page – not everyone will enter your site through the front door.

  1. Don’t Forget About Mobile

There are still many small business websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. This should be a major concern. To make the most of your online presence, make sure you hire a web designer who works in responsive design, who can create a flexible website for both desktop and mobile.

  1. Take Advantage of Google

Your business may not show up on Google Maps unless you’ve claimed your Google My Business. If you haven’t done this yet, do this immediately. Google accounts for more than 70% of all desktop searches. If you’re not maximizing your use of everything that Google has to offer, you are invisible to many potential customers.

How To Get Great Online Reviews

Great online reviews are important to consumers and businesses. With today’s fast pace and the ubiquity of internet access, consumers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Reviews can literally sway you towards or away from a product or service. Whether these reviews are on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or a medical doctor review site doesn’t really matter. What is important for businesses is understanding that buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. People trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations.

No matter how hard you try, you will get some bad reviews. They are inevitable. Somewhere along the line, a customer will have a bad experience and will voice their displeasure to the world. While you can’t stop this from happening, it’s not the bad reviews themselves, but how you deal with them that has the biggest impact on future buying decisions.

The most effective way of reducing the negative impact of negative reviews is to increase the number of positive reviews.

Getting your customers to give you good reviews can be tricky.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Get Great Online Reviews

When it comes to getting good reviews, there’s one thing that makes a huge difference. Deliver an exceptional customer experience. Happy customers will help you grow your business.

Ways To Get Positive Online Reviews

Here are five legitimate and effective ways to get positive online reviews.

Ask The Right Customers

Your customers might love you and be thrilled to be doing business with you, but you’re not at the center of their world; they are. They aren’t spending their free time coming up with ways to help your business. If you want that help, you need to ask for it.

But if positive online reviews are what you’re looking for, then you need to be asking the right customers. The right customers are the ones who are getting the most value out of your product.

If you know some of your customers are referring other customers, then first reach out to the referrers for a review.

Ask at The Right Time

The best time to ask for an online review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind, making it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review.

Ask the Right Way

Want to lose your credibility as a business with a single word?

Send an email asking for “good” reviews. Or “positive” ones. Or any other adjective that suggests that you might be trying to tell your customers what to write, even if it isn’t true.

How to ask for a review (in an email)

Hi _________,

Thanks for coming in the other day. I appreciate your making time to see us.

If it’s not too much trouble, I have a quick request: could you please leave an honest review on (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, blog, etc…) Here’s a link.

Even a sentence or two would be hugely appreciated. If it helps us get more awesome customers like you, it’ll let us keep making (your business) better for you.  J

Thanks, and if there’s anything I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to let me know.

If You Get Ignored, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Again

If your request for a review didn’t even get opened, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a customer doesn’t want to help you. You may have caught them at a bad time, or your email might simply have gotten lost in the fray of the average bulging inbox. Remember that ultimately customers with great experiences will want to give you a good review. It’s just a matter of timing. So don’t be afraid to ask your great clients two or three times if you get ignored.

Make It Easy for the Reviewer

Perhaps the most important step in getting great online reviews is making it easy for your reviewer to give you a great online review. Make sure your directions and expectations are clear and concise and if possible be sure to include a link directly to the online review form.


How To Deal With Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are important to consumers and businesses. With today’s fast pace and the ubiquity of internet access, consumers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Reviews can literally sway you towards or away from a product or service. Whether these reviews are on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or a medical doctor review site doesn’t really matter. What is important for businesses is understanding that buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. People trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews are critical in getting customers to research a product or service.

Just look at some of these statistics about online reviews:

  • 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 70% of consumers say business service reviews (recruiting services, agencies) are as or more important than reviews of personal services (home contractors, babysitters). (Source: Capterra)
  • Customers spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews. (Source: Invesp)
  • 40% of buyers form an opinion of a business after reading just 1-3 reviews. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review. (Source: BrightLocal)

So what should you do when you get a negative review?

Respond Promptly

Promptly responding to a negative review shows the customer that you care and value their opinion. A prompt and personal response may also help you get a second chance from the customer that had an initial negative experience with your company, service, or product.

Take the Issue Offline

If it’s possible, try to replay via email or phone. For example, Yelp gives business page owners the opportunity to respond via email. If you are able to resolve the matter to the customer’s satisfaction, leave a brief comment in the public timeline.

Be Polite and Don’t Take the Review Personally

A negative review might piss you off and lead you to respond with harsher words than are necessary. Take time to collect your thoughts and respond by saying something like “Thank you for your valuable feedback. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about your experience. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.”

It’s more important for a business or service provider to take the high road and appear conciliatory to customer concerns than it is to establish its side of the story. The customer will always win any argument about their experience.

If, after talking to the person, you find there is a valid reason for his comments, take proactive steps to remedy the situation. When warranted, provide restitution in the form of a coupon or discount.

Monitor Your Online Presence

In order to respond to reviews, you need to know what customers are saying and where they are saying it. Either do this yourself, or hire an expert to monitor for you.

Understand How Rating and Review Sites Work

Each customer rating and review site has a unique algorithm that filters and ranks reviews.

Yelp recommends reviews it think will be most helpful to the Yelp community based on three factors: quality, reliability, and the reviewer’s activity on the site.

Tripadvisor ranks businesses based on star ratings.

Take Negative Reviews Seriously

In most cases, people who leave negative reviews aren’t out to defame you. They merely want to express their opinion about the experience. Take these reviews seriously because they may reveal an area of your business that could benefit from an improvement.

Encourage Customer Reviews

To offset the impact of a negative customer review, encourage customers to leave reviews.

Put signs or table toppers in your place of business for review sites you want to promote. Add a note to invoices or receipts asking customers to leave a review. If you email customers, ask them to share their feedback. These are subtle ways to encourage reviews from good customers.

Share Reviews with Your Employees

Make sure everyone in your company is aware of the reviews you’ve received, both positive and negative. Not only will that help you prevent a negative review in the future, but it will also build a customer-centric mindset among your employees.

Optimize Your Website For Lead Generation

If you have a business, you are familiar with lead generation. Leads become prospective clients or customers who (hopefully) become paying clients or customers. Most businesses ultimately get leads by referral – word of mouth – but there are ways to optimize your website so that it can be a powerful tool for lead generation.

Even if a referral is made, visitors come to your website, read a blog post or your main website content, click on a call-to-action, and enter their information into a form on a landing page. Since they have already expressed an interest in the topic they came to your site to learn about, it’s a simple matter of engaging them, providing them with information, and making them aware of the solutions you have for them. Here are several steps you can take to optimize your website for lead generation.

Optimize your content.

This should be obvious but I will say it anyway. You need to create content that’s relevant and valuable for your visitors. Without great content, it’s hard to turn visits into leads. Next, you will want to optimize the content so that users can easily find you in search engine results. Ranking for a highly competitive keyword is extremely difficult. Therefore, focus your efforts on finding long-tail keywords that you can realistically rank for.

Optimize your calls to action.

Once you optimize your content, the next step is to create calls to action that persuade visitors to provide you with their contact information.

The first thing to think about is what copy to use. Words and phrases such as “free”, “trial”, “try”, “exclusive”, and “download” are commonly used to attract visitor eyeballs.

Make sure the offers are relevant. “Limited time offer” is not good if visitors can download something anytime.

You also need to make sure that your buttons or banners are used strategically to draw attention. A plain text link can sometimes work, but you want to make sure that it grabs attention.

Optimize your offers.

Even if your content and calls to action are optimized, you want to make sure that your offer is good enough to entice someone to sign up. You need to think about what your visitors are getting at every stage of the process. What did they learn from your blog post? What is the next logical thing they would like to learn next? What content could help you nurture leads? How do you convert those leads?

Applicable content upgrades can boost signups. Make sure that your offers are matched to your visitors and the information they want.

Optimize your landing pages.

Whether to have landing pages or not is an important decision in and of itself. You could have visitors click on a “call to action” button and instantly have a form pop up so they will be able to enter their information and claim the offer without ever viewing another page.

If you want to collect more information than just a name and email address, then you probably need a landing page. Your landing pages should include a brief summary of the offer your visitors will be getting when they sign up. The copy needs to be optimized to ensure good performance. The page should also have a signup form. The exact information to collect at this point depends on your strategy, and is another item to optimize. Collecting too much information could be a deterrent to potential leads. On the other hand, those that provide you with more information might turn out to be better quality leads. You will need to test and experiment to figure out what information your target customers are comfortable giving.

One more piece that’s worth your attention is the “Thank you” page, the one visitors see when they sign up for your offer. You can use this page to thank visitors and provide a download link to an ebook, template, report or white paper. You can also serve links to relevant pages on your site for additional reading.

Final thoughts

The exact steps you take to generate leads depend on your target audience and niche, as different audiences exhibit different behaviors. However, by tailoring the items discussed above for your specific audience, you’ll be able to boost performance significantly.

What are long-tail-keywords and why are they important?

Long-tail keywords are longer and much more specific keyword phrases that people type into search engines. So instead of googling “shoes” when we want to search for “Italian carbon fiber cycling shoes”, we search with a much more specific long-tail keyword phrase that drills down directly to the information we want to find. There is far more competition for the keyword “shoes” than there is for the keyword phrase “Italian carbon fiber cycling shoes.” Long-tail keywords are also the specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they are closer to a point of purchase. They can be hugely valuable if you know how to use them.

Take this example: Connect4 Consulting designs websites. The chances that I will rank number 1 for website design are very low because there’s too much competition (this is particularly true for small businesses and start-ups). But suppose what Connect4 Consulting really does is design websites for small businesses and non-profits in the DC Metro area. Then keywords like “website design for small businesses and non-profits in the DC metro area” are going to find customers looking for my services. That obviously doesn’t mean that I’m the only business out there, but it shrinks the pond and focuses the target audience.

Managing long-tail keywords is basically just a matter of establishing better lines of communication between your business and the customers who are already out there, actively looking for the services or products you provide. Obviously you are going to get less traffic with a long-tail keyword than you would with a more common one, but the traffic you do get will be far better: more committed, more focused, and more interested in your products or services.

Using a Free Keyword Tool as a Long-Tail Keyword Generator

WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool returns nearly an unlimited number of keywords, including multi-word long-tail keywords, for you to use in organic and paid search campaigns. It’s easy to find long-tail keywords with this free keyword research tool. Just enter the word you want to research:

The tool returns the top 100 most popular keywords. Just enter your email to receive the full list of long-tail keyword phrases, completely free.

Additional Keyword Tools

There are several other sites that offer free keyword research tools:

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

There are clear upsides to having a small business. You are agile and can change directions on a whim. You don’t have to conduct focus groups or wait through months of testing. You’ve got autonomy, since no other company owns or controls you. Of course you’re not competing directly with the biggest firms in your industry, but there are a few tools that can help your small business look bigger online.

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

Build/Redesign Your Website

Last year the U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that 50% of small businesses still don’t have a website. Without an online presence, your small business can go unnoticed by potential customers. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to create a small business website that looks like a big business website. In fact, many small businesses actually have more impressive websites than big businesses because they take advantage of the fact they are agile, nimble, and have autonomy. A new website is an achievable goal.

Plan Strategically

Strategic planning isn’t only for big corporations or non profit organizations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. What’s the vision?
  3. What are the obstacles?
  4. What are my resources?
  5. What’s my strategy?
  6. What are my tactics?
  7. What will we monitor and measure?

Establish A Marketing Budget

Procter & Gamble spent nearly $3 billion in marketing in 2014! That’s more than any other company in the world. While no small business can even dream of matching that, there’s a cost to getting your product, service, or brand in front of potential customers and clients. How much do you need to spend to look big? It depends on your business and whether you are selling direct to customers or direct to businesses. On average, companies spend about 6 percent of their revenue on marketing.

Don’t Rely Exclusively on Social Media

Social media is all the rage these days and it’s true that it shouldn’t be overlooked. At the same time, it makes no sense to rely exclusively on social media. Some people do it because it’s mostly free. Success depends a lot on the industry and your target audience. If most of your target audience is on Facebook, then spend some of your time there. If you’re in a professional business and you need to connect with professional colleagues, I’d recommend LinkedIn. If you run a restaurant and you want to show people how great your food looks, try Instagram, which is also a great tool for connecting with teenage consumers. See which sites the big brands in your industry use, and use that as a guideline.


Simple tips for getting yourself to appear more often in Google searches

The following tips will help you appear more often in Google searches:

  • Make sure your website is up to date. Make sure it says what you want to say about yourself and your company. If you can change the language every few months (or more regularly) do so.
  • Write a blog and post frequently
  • Contribute content on someone else’s blog as long as your site is linked
  • Get your clients and business partners to link to your website. Make sure the link language is consistent. .org’s and .edu’s carry more weight.

Make sure you have a Google+ page, get people to review you on Google+, create your Google local pages. Even though Google+ is not the success Google hoped it would be, Google is still dominant so Google+ content has Google search value.