Congratulations! You have a new website or blog. Now how do you get your first website visitors to it?
You totally understand this is a long-term effort, and you don’t expect 30,000 visitors to show up on your new site within 2 weeks (not that that wouldn’t be nice). However – you don’t want to be building something for the void either – and you want some sort of positive feedback to keep you writing and building.
There’s been a ton of information spilled on this topic – and frankly there are entire websites/experts/industries dedicated to helping you do just that (and newsletters).
But from what I’ve found for myself and for friends is that 90% of it is really quite worthless. It’s either –
- Too advanced (ie, just create a solid keyword map and go 100% SEO!)
- Too vague (ie, just find your audience and get in on the conversation)
- Too expensive (ie, just buy this course for $197!…)
- Too much cart before the horse (ie, just build your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and email list first!)
Not that any of those aren’t true eventually, but they are quite daunting and require learning extra skills or spending valuable time when your #1 focus should be simply reading, writing, and promoting.
Even though social media is hot, and SEO sounds sexy and complicated – here’s 3 old school ways to get your first website visitors that don’t get nearly enough attention, but still work wonders to get your snowball rolling.
Comments are one of the oldest functions of blogs. They were social media before social media became, well, social media. They are straightforward, and most anyone who has used the Internet has at some point left a comment.
What too many people miss out on is the ability to leave a URL associated with your comment.
N.B. – these links do not increase your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines, because almost all comment links are “nofollow” -ie, the link tells search engines that this link is not an endorsement of your site, like other links are
Leaving your URL with your comment does 2 things:
- the author of the blog will see it, and will probably check out your site (which gets you in front of someone who already has an audience)
- readers of comments will see it, and if your comment is especially insightful, then you will get visitors from people clicking your comment link
For this to work though, you need to actually read the post, and leave an actual comment. Saying “Thanks! Great post!” adds no real value.
And best of all, if you are a regular reader of blogs in your space – it can just be a habit to start forming rather than a practice that you have to go out an do.
In addition – this method can be scaled to a point. Layered Thoughts wrote a guide to doing this method with Google Blog Search. You should definitely check it out.
2 reminders with this method though –
- You might encounter commenting systems run by Disqus, Google+, Facebook, etc. That’s fine. Remember the goal of this is not to build links – but to get in front of real people. Even commenting systems that don’t allow you to leave a website URL often will let you have a profile. Make sure that your website is available from that profile
- For goodness sakes, don’t abuse it. You would not believe how much spam I have to put up with in my comments. If you don’t have anything worthwhile to comment – then don’t comment. A banal comment is not going to attract attention to your comment – much less the link to you.
You know how on Twitter – you can tweet @someone to make sure they see it?
Well, Pingbacks are the long forgotten way to blog @someone. Seriously.
If you own a blog – and I own a blog, and I link to your post in my post…WordPress and most other major blogging platforms notify you that you’ve been linked to.
Yep – and you can imagine where I’m going with this. It’s like super-charged blog commenting.
Because here’s the thing, if I go to log into the backend of my blog and I see that someone has blogged about me – do you know what I’m going to do?
I’m visiting that blog to see what on earth they are saying about me!
And in a world of a firehose of data coming from Twitter, and an overwhelmed inbox – the Pingback is your guerrilla method to get in front of another blogger (who has an audience). And if they know that you are talking about them, and your stuff is interesting…they may very well talk about you.
At the very least, you’ll have the beginnings of a conversation so that the 3rd and most old school method just might actually work.
Yes – email. I just said that everyone’s inbox was flooded. However, there is nothing like a well-timed, well-targeted email to the right person to get attention for your work.
I learned this is especially powerful when I was promoting my blog post on 50 City Stereotypes (that got 10,000 visits in 24 hours). I emailed Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities to try to get some attention. Why her? Well, I was already a big fan of her stuff on The Atlantic Cities. I knew from her byline that she was the staff writer, and a regular contributor. She frequently calls out the cool work of others – and is always looking for more leads. And seemed to be a pretty cool person from her Twitter profile.
I was able to craft a very specific email about how the post could get some attention and pageviews for The Atlantic Cities (which it did), and gave a direct link to check it out.
When you are looking to get your first visitors beyond your mom/friends – go look for key people who already have an audience and email them. Sure, they’re busy. But if you can offer a big benefit for them – you get attention.
The other reason that I loved email for outreach is that it’s active, rather than passive consumption. You get to send something to someone’s inbox. It’s not as easily ignored as a Tweet or Facebook post. And if you email mid to lower level blogs – you’re contact may very well make their day.
For example, I get a lot of email everyday. But most of it is predictable. I only get 3 to 4 email contacts/week from my blogs. I read it, respond, and usually take action.
Here’s a great example from a couple weeks ago.
I don’t know that Tamas is actually a regular reader, but he had evidently done his homework, and the email was pitch perfect. (BTW – you can check out his WordPress Horizonal Slider here)
If you build it – they won’t necessarily come. You’ve got to promote to someone, and get the ball rolling. Don’t think that you have to become an overnight influencer on Twitter to get traffic.
Think in terms of audience. Think in terms of who would be interested and why. Look into using blog comments, pingbacks, and email to get your snowball of traffic rolling.