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Alternative Sources of Traffic Other Than Google

     
5:26 pm on Nov 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Publishers, webmasters, site developers, ecommerce businesses, site owners, etc., have always sought alternative sources of traffic and opportunities.
Many wish for days of past where traffic was coming from Google and other search engines, but that's not going to happen.

What alternative strategies are you using, and you have developed for alternative sources of traffic?

I'll start with the obvious, but it's not for all.

1. Social media
5:57 pm on Nov 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all for what works and what doesn't. It really depends on each person's/company's niche, model, business activity, and level of technical ability. (Not to mention resources, especially financial resources.) So I like engine's post- what has worked for YOU. Also, what has NOT worked for you? And more importantly, WHY has it worked) or not worked) for you? That's the critical part- analyzing the results (or lack thereof) of your efforts. And continuing to analyze- what worked great yesterday may stop working tomorrow.

Social media
I don't know many people who generate good traffic from social media. From their efforts, most of the traffic ends up going to their social media pages and stopping there. If they have good actions available through their SM pages, that can be good. But as I said, most of the traffic ends at their SM pages instead of following through to their sites or calls to action. (I'm sure some people have had some success, but most of the efforts I've seen people do end in less than stellar results.)

2. Membership/mailing list/etc.
The value I DO see from SM is the ability to notify members/followers of new content, marketing to them, etc. But if you can do it yourself, that has more value than having a 3rd party control everything. It's especially critical if you have a site that is not conducive to having people visit frequently, you need some way to let people know when you publish new content, have a sale, or otherwise keep you in their minds.
PROS:
- More control
- Better insight into your members' wants/interests
CONS:
- More work maintaining, filtering out spam, removing old e-mails, etc.
- Requires more resources (time to do it yourself or money to outsource)

In our online communities, notifications are sent out when new members join (in local/topic-based groups), new content is posted (in groups being followed or by people being followed), and when new likes/comments are added to posts being followed. For us, the focus is community, so this type of social media-like functionality is pretty much expected these days. For most e-commerce sites (unless there is a STRONG brand associated with it), it probably won't work well. I've seen efforts to add "community" to non-community sites, and most just don't work- most people view it as just a way to be marketed to.
10:00 pm on Nov 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If ever there was a YRMV (your results may vary) subject :)

The kicker is that there are the paint by number default methods aka what the bloggeratti expound and that many/most webdevs blindly follow (and consequently suffer chronic angst about) and outside the box closely held methods considered to be myth or outright lies by the webdev majority.

I began my existing sites as Google began it's rise, in a web awash with search engines, where Yahoo's directory dominated, web rings and link pages de rigueur.

A lot has changed in the two decades since and that need to adapt, to continually adjust (hypothesize and test), may be an advantage (both in mind set and behaviour) over those whose webdev experience is more recent (aka more Google-centric).

My working traffic template is:
1. search engines for generic new traffic (and perhaps misc. nav referrals) without optimising any one to the detriment of others;

2. social media marketing where (1) target audience congregates, (2) a sufficient ROI method of referral (redirection to site) exists, and (3) time to implement and maintain is available;

3. contact maintenance such as RSS (partial) feed, newsletter (personalized), native/web apps.

4. variously contextually relevant content that maximises (1) visitor retention rate (2) visitor conversion rate, (3) visitor referral/testimonials.

Currently (English language sites):
* search is ~40% of referred traffic and Google is about half of that; primarily Bing (up YoY), DDG (up), Google (steady), Yahoo (steady).

* social is ~30% of referred traffic; primarily FaceBook (down YoY), Instagram (steady), Reddit (up), Twitter (steady), YouTube (steady).

* contact is ~20% of referred traffic; apps (up YoY), feeds (down), newsletter (up).

Balance is generic back links and direct aka bookmark and type-in. I would really prefer more from back links but the power of search and social and increasingly apps is undeniable.
12:47 pm on Nov 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Mailshots and newsletters are doing good things for me.
1:38 pm on Nov 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I accept the fact that every site will have different requirements.

Let's look at the ways that work for you to help others that are working.

The most successful method that has ever worked for me, way better than any other, is...
Word of mouth recommendation.
Think about the ways word of mouth might be applied to your business.
1:22 pm on Nov 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Word of mouth is indeed powerful, and variants of it are at work online also :-) How to use it for my own marketing challenge is tricky to envisage ..
4:26 pm on Nov 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How to use it for my own marketing challenge is tricky to envisage ..

That's always a challenge.
In the past i've used a simple,
recommend a friend for an entry into the monthly draw to win *something*

Or to
get a x% discount off your next order,
9:03 pm on Nov 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Social is pretty much all WoM. From ye olde testimonial and n-star quality inference to personal interview or 'about' content, inadvertent or paid 'influencers', your mom posting embarrassing photos from back when, citations and links... It's all WoM as soon as it gets passed to a third party.

As with everything web and everything marketing its not so much what one does but how; plus when and in series or parallel with what else...

Ye olde old not quite in focus poorly cropped image with a short phrase quote from A. Jones or JaneD used to be de rigueur. My initial take on this was a professional 'naturally' posed larger than thumbnail image with a full one to two complimentary paragraphs with full name and town. Next came the same photo but with something like 'read how pleased Jane Doe of SomeTown is with us and why she recommends us to family and friends...' that opens a modal with several photos especially if any using our whatever and one to two hundred word testimonial. Which in turn was followed by incorporating a Vine like short video of client speaking the copy. Mix and match as practicable.

Every single 'old school' variation can be, has been, updated, adapted, expanded, used alone or with complimentary other marketing methods.

First one needs to know - and understand - one's audience market segments, one's business and marketing model and goals, and marketing theory and history both off and online. And then one needs only add imagination! Then take those hypotheses and test test remodel and retest ad nauseum.

Note: one can even build in coupons, discounts attached to reading testimonials... Or their sharing... Or...

Most webdevs can't see past paint by number defaults. A competitive advantage I quite enjoy.
9:18 am on Nov 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Word of mouth in the traditional sense works because the recommendation comes from someone you know and trust.
They have credibility with you, which gives their recommendation power.
6:06 pm on Nov 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@MarkA: that traditional WoM still exists but is tiny compared to faux know-and-trust celebrities and faux celebrities.

It is the intersection of the two that is intreguing: where someone takes the info/hype of a web influencer and passes it wholesale to actual friends and family.

Also that while the attention is on the high flying idjit influencers such as various K's there are a viable strata of niche influencers that have much smaller but just as loyal audiences. It is even possible to create and maintain your own!

For example just take a look at who you consider an expert here at WebmasterWorld - most/all of whom you have never met, know only from their posts and possibly some PMs - yet you take their commentary seriously. SM niche influencers.

Interacting with such to mutual benefit does not have to be nefarious. Indeed it works best for both that it not.

If one approaches Reddit or FB or Instagram or what have you much as one interacts on WebmasterWorld (or not?!) one can build a WoM network that only needs a critical mass of appropriate landing pages such that they come, have reason to return, and want to recommend in turn.

It's not just getting the SM traffic but what one offers on site. If one treats it like most do one time SE referrals one will be forever disappointed. Your site needs to act much as the one ring: to have them, to hold them, to bind them. Social is a whole other critter than search.
10:12 am on Nov 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget MLM or ordinary visits to the local BBB breakfasts ... can be amazing when you build a local, then regional, buzz and that eventually gets picked up national and grows to international.

This is not "automated", it requires YOU putting yourself out there and SELLING it to other humans ... who then put it on their webs...

Get out of the office (or wherever you are coding) and actually meet humans and expend physical effort to shake hands and TALK your biz.

(BTW, this is the original "social media") ...

This is as NON-google as you can get.

PS: it actually works!
5:31 pm on Nov 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm just trying to get people to think more about the opportunities, instead of just looking at a time gone by.
My thinking behind all this is that Google has changed, but so, too, have users. They've changed in the way they consume data from a basic search.
Let's consider go-to sites: Big brands that everyone knows and users visit. If you're selling stuff you're going to consider amazon, ebay, but also there's etsy, pinterest, etc.
Think about how these might be monetization opportunities for your business.
1:59 pm on Nov 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@engine
get a x% discount off your next order,
I had a supplier do that for me, they offered 30% of the value of any orders that I referred to them. The thing was, I was already referring people to them, because they are very good at what they do. I was irritated by the offer because 1) I was already doing it and 2) because I supposed I wouldn't get the benefit of the business I had already referred.
4:13 pm on Nov 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Mark_A
Fair enough, but it's still a way of alternative traffic, and it may work for some.
5:43 pm on Nov 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, the vast majority of SEOs are locked in a dysfunctional relationship with Google (some few tried SMM back in the B&W days and floundered back to the known safety of G) as are most toolmakers; it's a reinforcing loop heavily weighting the G-centric webdev bubble.

All the alternatives, even 'simply' broadening SEO to include other SEs, are different and so uncomfortable behaviours. Even those who have been sharing angst in the G fora seem unable to do other than go down with ship while complaining about the 'difficulties' of alternatives.

I appreciate this and similar threads but I'm afraid they are mere whispers against the cacophonies. And that those reading already believe/understand while those you are attempting to help are elsewhere in denial.

Apologies. I've been reading the WebmasterWorld Google fora category again. Probably should stop. Put up a hazard, here be monsters, harmful to mind and business sign or something.

Ah well...
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Diversify traffic sources...
Diversify revenue streams...
Treat the site as a business...
Or else
Owe your soul to the company store.
2:30 pm on Nov 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps we should have titled this thread: Alternative sources of sales

Because traffic for its own sake is of no interest.

Sales Orders and then paid up invoices are what pay salaries.
3:33 pm on Nov 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Ultimately, that's correct, but you have to satrt with traffic.
For most people it's firstly about gaining traffic, but a far more important aspect is once you've got the traffic it's conversions. Another topic.

Where else can you suggest for traffic without beating the google drum?
4:49 pm on Nov 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps we should have titled this thread: Alternative sources of sales
Not necessarily true. Not every site has something to sell. Some new sites need to build up traffic for branding or promotion of their offline store/event/whatever. Or to get people to signup for a newsletter or register for their site.

Different sources of traffic can result in better/worse conversion rates depending on the type of conversion (sale, eyeballs, registration, etc.) desired.