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The 3 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Website

by Ryan on July 28, 2010

How to Get Traffic to your website

I’m often asked about how to get website traffic, users, and customers on the web.  It’s frequently in the context of another entrepreneur that starting a new web endeavor.  I almost always give the same response – from a high level perspective, there are only 3 ways to generate website traffic.  You shouldn’t even bother starting an internet company unless you have a reasonably good change at succeeding at one of these 3 methods.  The 3 methods are so dead simple and obvious that this blog post will likely come across as pointless to anyone in the internet space.  That being said, I’m still amazed at how often I have this conversation with folks – both with semi-seasoned internet players, VC’s, angels, and newbies. Without further adieu, here are the 3 ways to generate website traffic:

1.  Organic Search – learn how to show up in Google‘s free, organic search results.  In short, there’s really only a few things that will ever get you to appear organically – Content and Links.  If you don’t have good content, lots of content (and I mean lots), and content that’s regularly updated (i.e. fresh and new), then don’t even try it.  In addition, if you have no way to obtain a massive amount of inbound links with appropriate anchor text, then you’re better off trying methods 2 or 3 below.

2.  Paid Search / Paying for Traffic – anyone with a keyboard and a wallet can get traffic from paid search (as well as PR).  Sometimes the wallet things is what will trip you up (i.e. your not sitting on a big pile of money).  However, if you do have a bunch of cash to literally light on fire, then load up your Google Adwords and spend away.  You can literally get millions and millions of unique visitors from paid search.   It’s as easy as taking candy from a baby.  However, if you don’t have a website that sells anything other than advertising, there’s about a 99.9% chance that there’s no arbitrage opportunity in it for you and so all you’ll be doing is loading up Google coffers.  If you do actually sell a product on your website, then buy up some keywords and determine if there’s an arbitrage opportunity in it for you.  Arbitrage is the point at which the following equation has a positive outcome —>

Arbitrage Opportunity = Amount Paid Per Click Minus Average Sale Amount Minus Cost of Goods Sold.

If Arbitrage Opportunity > $1 – Proceed, Otherwise – Pause, Rethink, and / or Stop.

Start by spending $100 on Adwords and be sure you have conversion tracking in place.  If the outcome of the calculation is not positive, then stop buying clicks because all you’re really doing is lighting money on fire.

3.  Viral Traffic – if you have a product that’s extremely entertaining and viral, you can generate free website traffic, primarily from social media.  The links from social media outlets can also help with Organic SEO (item 1 above).  When I say entertaining and viral, I mean funny, scandalous, cute, or even profane.  This type of material performs really well on the web because people love to laugh.   However, if you don’t have a product that’s funny or otherwise entertaining, forget about it.  No one is going to go to your site, share your site, or talk about your site with their friends and colleagues if it’s of a boring, mundane, or otherwise un-entertaining subject matter.  There are plenty of boring websites on the web already and the last thing you need to do is build another one only to hope and pray that people visit it.  More specifically put, if your product is not something that’s funny enough to be discussed on late night television in a top 10 list, then you’re not going to get any amount of viral traffic that matters, and you should stick to items 1 and / or 2 above.

*Note: I consider word of mouth and PR subsets of viral traffic and paid traffic respectively.

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How Many Times A Day Do I Visit Facebook?

by Ryan on January 6, 2010

I post to Facebook and Twitter a lot.  I mean A LOT.  When I run into my Facebook friends in the real world, I’m often asked how many hours per day do I spend on Facebook?  The answer may (or may not) surprise you.  I spend, ZERO, absolutely zero hours on Facebook each day / month / week. The only time I go onto Facebook is to accept friend requests and check our advertiser and / or developer account at AudioMicro (AM integrates with Facebook).

Question: Then how does my Facebook account get updated 5 times per day (with an average of 4 shared articles and at one status update)?

Answer: RSS, more specifically RSS feeds viewed through Google Reader on my mobile phone with shared RSS items fed into Friendfeed, and distributed to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and just about every other social network on the web.

Ryan Born RSS

In 2009, a great deal of discussion has been going on regarding the death of RSS. Proponents of the death of RSS believe that services like Twitter and Friendfeed are replacing RSS. This is certainly true for the Average Internet User (AIU) because the AIU never adopted RSS.  Despite its simplicity, the AIU still finds RSS confusing. RSS often requires copying and pasting a feed and or clicking on an orange button that brings up a bunch of text, and the AIU does not know how to utilize this text by copying the feed sources, pasting the into an RSS reader, and using the RSS reader to organize and automatically update feeds from across the web. The idea that one must have another account to login to (their RSS reader) and visit through a web browser is far too complicated for the AIU. The AIU would simply prefer to load up Google, Facebook, or Twitter on their homepage and either search for news (in the case of Google) or be spoon fed news by their friends / followers (as in the case of Facebook and Twitter).   This works great for the AIU. RSS is dead to the AIU, but RSS is certainly not dead to more advanced internet users.

But what if you would rather be the one doing the spoon feeding?  i.e. The influential user that locates news worthy topics, shares this news, and drives traffic the the publishers that create content.  RSS is the answer for this and here is how you do it…

1.  Register for a Google Reader Account

2.  Subscribe via RSS to the publications of your choice (HINT:  Click one of those little orange icons you find on most blogs and web pages)

3.  Register for a Friendfeed Account

4.  Link you Google Reader Shared items to your Friendfeed Account (HINT:  Locate the feed URL for your Google Reader Shared items, and copy and paste this URL into Friendfeed’s Google Shared items feed)

5.  Link your Friendfeed stream to both your Twitter and Facebook Accounts (this is really easy to do once you have a Friendfeed account and you can also link to any other social media outlet that you are registered with – e.g. LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, etc.)

6.  Now you are set up for one click mobile syndication.  Visit your Google Reader account from your mobile phone, iPhone, or web browser, find an article you like, click the “Share” button below any post you see within your Google Reader and this item will be automatically posted to your Facebook and Twitter.  If you set things up correctly, it will automatically title your post and shorten the URL’s through http://bit.ly so that you can track how many clicks you get for each item you share.

My Personal Stats:

For every item that I share through Google Reader, I receive an average of 30 clicks.  The majority of these clicks come from any one of the 15,000+ twitter followers to the @audiomicro account.  A few others come from my Facebook friends and personal @bornryan twitter followers and a couple come from LinkedIn and a few stragglers from MySpace.  Pretty much what you would expect in terms of the influential sites where discussions are occurring on the web.  In short, I can drive 30 clicks to any article on the web, simply by clicking the “Share” button in my Google Reader account.  That’s not bad considering that 30 clicks could sell for $10 or more on Google if you were buying clicks through Google Adwords.

Would you like 30 new hits to your website? If so, just let me know and I’ll share a link for you.

Facebook Really is Worth More Than MySpace

by Ryan on December 23, 2007

As much as I had to fight the social networks as a non-single male, I decided to sign up for both Facebook and MySpace last week in an effort to do some general social networking research. I had previously been a member of Friendster back in 2002 until I deleted my profile in 2005. Well, here is my verdict after one week…Facebook is clearly the cooler, less cheesy, more user friendly, less annoying, easier to use application. I found that a great deal of my contacts possess profiles on both platforms; however, the more business and career minded of my contacts are on Facebook and the single, party-types tend to be all over MySpace. While both platforms are great for networking and keeping groups apprised of your news, Facebook is the clear winner in terms of it’s ability to provide direct marketing and cute add ons / api’s for one’s business and other creations.

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