There was a time when all you had to do was put up a webpage on the internet and people would find it.
However, that time is long past. As in, decades past. Then time when you can get people to come to your website without doing anything is over. In 2018, you need to attract visitors using a variety of online and offline methods. If you do not do this, you will not get any traffic, unless you have the most niche business, or you have a large, pre-existing clientele who suddenly decide they need to tell other people about your site. (Neither of these things is likely.) So
The Ways People Find Websites
There are only five ways people can find your website, be they potential clients, current or former clients, or total strangers:
- Direct Traffic
- Search Engine Traffic
- Paid Traffic
- Social Media
That’s it. If someone does not find your website through one of these four “channels,” they are not getting to your website.
I am going to cover these five channels in separate posts, but here is a brief overview:
Someone types in your website url into their browser, or copies and pastes it into their browser. Direct traffic can come from:
- typing in your site url that they saw offline
- typing in your site url from memory
- typing in your site url and it populates in the browser because
- they’ve been there before
- it’s a really popular website
- pasting your site url from an email or a social media post.
(Email links are sometimes considered direct as well.)
Traffic that comes by referral comes from links on other websites. (Technically, social media traffic could be considered referred as well.) You can get traffic this way when someone
- clicks a link to a page on your site embedded in the text of another webpage
- clicks a link to a page on your site embedded in the text of a forum post
- clicks a link to a page on your site embedded in the text of a comment on a site or post.
Sometimes, links sent by email (by friends, family, or spammers), are also considered referrals. But these links are more ephemeral, given that they are not available to the public and they are unlikely to generate repeat visits, except in one very specific circumstance.
Search Engine Traffic
Someone finds your site by using Google (or Bing) to find what they are looking for, such as “Digital Marketing Consultant Toronto.”
You pay for ads, in search (Google, Bing), or in social media (Facebook, Twitter), or on related sites. When a user clicks on the ad, she comes to your site. You pay for the click.
Social Media Traffic
A type of referred traffic, but not as permanent as a link from a website, because of how social media functions.
These are the only ways potential customers will ever find your website. And you can’t just rely on search traffic any more. So, what do you do with this information?