How do new websites get traffic?
As most of you CNCCookbook readers know, I have an entrepreneurship blog (BobWarfield.com), where I am teaching the techniques I used to grow CNCCookbook and other businesses. I have a system that works well from absolute nothing to the 4 million plus visits a year CNCCookbook gets. It may surprise many of you to know CNCCookbook is that big, but we’ve become the most popular CNC blog on the Internet. It’s all a result of a system I developed.
I’m working hard to create an online course that will teach that system, and I hope to have it available in the next month or two.
Meanwhile, I am faced with the challenge of growing traffic for the new blog. It’s actually a great test of my system, though I’ve used it on several other companies besides CNCCookbook with widely varying audiences, and it has always worked well.
To grow a new site from scratch, you need to take care of four things in this order:
#1 – Make the site worth visiting. When people land on the site, there has to be enough there that they don’t just bounce off and never come back. The bar here isn’t huge, but you probably need 6-12 blog posts that appeal to diverse interests so that most visitors will find more than one interesting article and things look promising.
#2 – Email signup. Your mailing list is the major thing of value being created at a new website. It’s a testimony to whether your articles offer enough value that your visitors are willing to sign up and be reminded to come back. You need to do a couple of things–put in the infrastructure to collect the names and create the infrastructure to create a weekly newsletter.
#3 – Steadily improve. For me, this means committing to do a certain number of high quality articles a week that grow the interest in the site. I try to do 3 articles a week for CNCCookbook and 2 articles for BobWarfield.com, for example. Make sure you do articles that really matter. Better to have fewer really good articles than to put out fluff that waste’s your audience’s time. I’ve learned from experience that I can’t do more than 5 articles a week without compromising on quality, so I don’t.
#4 – Promote the content. I learned this one relatively late. You can grow a site without promoting the content. That means spending a huge amount of your time publishing new content and very little on promotion. This is the right strategy for a mature site like CNCCookbook. I publish and Google will take care of helping people to find it. But a new site has very little pull with Google. If you don’t promote the content, very few people will ever find it.
The first three are pretty self-explanatory, though I could write about the details and I will certainly put them into my course. Item #4 is the real Secret Sauce for new sites–very important!
How to Promote Your Content
Promoting your content largely consists of telling others about it who can send traffic your way. This can be done either quite literally, by contacting bloggers and other site owners to make them aware, or implicitly, by posting on sites about your post. Before a site becomes established, contacting other bloggers is hard. After all, what do you really have to offer them? Why would they believe in you?
Plus, you have to deal with the length of time it takes for someone to make a decision and the fact that most of the time they’ll never respond and you have no idea if they ever saw your message. No fun!
Instead, I prefer to post on sites about my posts. Does that sound odd? It’s really not, when you think about it.
For example, you can easily post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other similar site where you have an account. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of opportunities like this. In fact, there are more than you can ever take advantage of.
Good news, right?
So, what you want to do, is get systematic. The first thing is to test a bunch of them and figure out what works for your audience.
Test a bunch of sites to promote your content on and see what works…
Check it out—here are theI tested:
- Facebook: An old standby and not bad, but it only brought half the traffic my best choice did despite my actually spending a lot more time on it.
- LinkedIn: This is the #2 for my CNCCookbook site, but only brought 1/8 the traffic of the best source for my entrepreneur’s site. CNCCookbook has a large B2B audience, and I suspect that’s why it does so well with LinkedIn.
- Pinterest: This is #1 for CNCCookbook, which makes little sense. It’s an audience dominated by women, but the CNC audience is dominated by men. It’s not a B2B venue at all, but CNCCookbook is 70% B2B. Nevertheless, I get great traffic from it on CNCCookbook. I think the reason is the scarcity of photos for the CNC topic areas so anyone who is interested comes to me quickly. I got almost nothing for the entrepreneur blog. I will try again in 6 months.
- Medium: Have heard great things about it, but I only got results about 1/8 as good as the best source for the entrepreneur blog despite a fair amount of work. Could be I just haven’t found the formula yet. It doesn’t look like a good possibility for CNCCookbook at all as I haven’t been able to find many CNC’ers there.
- Reddit: Again, I’ve heard great things. Results were not bad—a little better than LinkedIn, but nowhere close to the #1 source.
- Blog Comments: Leaving blog comments is a time-honored tradition that was my main method of building CNCCookbook when I first started. It can help a lot, but I find it very time-consuming relative to the other methods. I did get decent results commenting on some of Neil Patel’s posts, but again, nowhere close to the #1 source. Incidentally, commenting on forum posts is the same thing, and it’s basically how I built CNCCookbook in the beginning.
- Guest Posting: This has been my #2 for the entrepreneur blog. Very effective if you can find some good opportunities and great for link building too. This post you’re reading? It’s basically a guest post for BobWarfield.com.
- Google+: Not bad, easy to do, but not huge either. Mostly, I like it because it shows up often in search results where I otherwise couldn’t play.
- YouTube: Pretty decent channel, but it is a lot of work to produce videos all the time. I am resolved to do more of this, and I’ve learned a lot from my monthly video series I’m doing with Cutting Tool Engineering magazine. Look for more video soon!
- Repurposing Content: The idea is to convert blog posts into videos, podcasts, and the like so you can spread the content to a wider audience. Again, decent results, but a lot of work.
- Quora: In aggregate, I got about 1500 visits during the 8 weeks from Quora. This was my single largest traffic driver by 2x, and I will be doubling down on it and discontinuing most of the others moving forward. Incidentally, I didn’t work very hard at it either. I was testing 11 different strategies during my first 8 weeks and didn’t have time. I got these results by answering an average of 1 Quora question a day. That’s a half hour of work at most.
BTW, this is exactly what you need to do when you start out. If you read through the list, you’ll see I tested most of them for both CNCCookbook and BobWarfield.com. The results differed because they depend on where your particular audience hangs out and on how well you do relative to the competition for your audience.
This is a common theme for Growth Hacking:
Test a bunch of alternative strategies as quickly and simple as you can. Double down on what works and drop what didn’t. Come back periodically, perhaps once a year, and retest what didn’t work–things change constantly!
That’s it, that’s the basic Secret Sauce for how to jump-start your traffic:
- Test a bunch of ways to promote your content.
- Double down on what works.
- Back off on what doesn’t and retest later in case things changed.
Mastering that cycle is huge for your business.
Now, you can drill down on exactly what I did with Quora and how to maximize your results if you want to test in this article:
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