Traffic is, and will always be, a hot topic in internet marketing.
You can have an awesome website that solves the world’s problems, has the solutions to world hunger, in addition to helping men understand women fully (can you imagine that?), but if you don’t have traffic, I would venture to say that your website means NOTHING.
Ok, I know that was harsh, but lets face it – If the people you are targeting aren’t getting to your website, your website might as well not exist.
So how does one get the right type of people to your site? There are many ways to do this, and there isn’t a shortage of people that would venture to give you advice. If you do a search in Google for “how to get traffic to your website”, you will come up with over 93 Million search results.
What I’m going to do in this post is share with you one of the strategies I’ve used – Getting backlinks. I’ll do this by looking at a specific example of how I’ve applied the concept of getting backlinks to my Biology Website.
Lets look at my backlinking strategy in some detail…
The importance of Backlinks
Backlinks can be a very important part of the traffic generation process for two main reasons:
- Making Google happy. We all know Google, and whether we like it or not (I kind of like it), they are the boss when it comes to cataloguing content across the internet. Where that is concerned, we all have to bow down to the Google gods.
One of the metrics that is important to Google is the amount and quality of backlinks you have directed to your site. If you can get many important sites to link to you, it’s as if those sites are telling Google – “I think this is a site you should check out, and value”. This can result in higher rankings in Google, and lots of natural search traffic.
- Direct Traffic. The more sites you get linking to your site, the more sources you have of direct traffic (people clicking the link to visit your site). If you can get a popular site to recommend your product, one of the results of that can be high quality targeted traffic. If your content is highly relevant to those visitors, you can grow your subscriber base significantly, in a relatively short period of time.
Phase 1: Doing The Research
When I started my website, my vision was to provide a bunch of short video tutorials explaining various topics in biology, so that teachers and students could both have a resource to enhance their classes.
However, with most of what I was doing, my strongest target was Biology teachers. Being a biology teacher myself, I know how challenging it can be to find good videos to use in your lecture presentations.
Once I decided on a specific target audience, I started doing research in Market Samurai (I’ve become somewhat of a Market Samurai addict, lol). As a part of my research, I asked the following questions:
- Who are my top competitors? I did this by entering keywords that were very relevant to my target audience. Phrases like “Biology lesson plans”, “Biology resources”, “teaching Biology” and a few others. Market Samurai then gave me the top 10 sites that rank for all of the keywords I entered.
- Who links to my top competitors? This is almost like putting on a spy outfit and running through the internet spying on your competitors (I know, I’m so sneaky). I was able to determine, not just how many backlinks those sites had, but which sites were linking to them and where.
Once I had that information, I started my journey. I went to each one of the sites and tried to determine if those sites were potential sources of high quality backlinks for my site. I looked at details such as:
- Whether my content is relevant to the site
- Whether the site had been updated recently
- If there was an obvious point of contact listed, such as an email address or contact form
When all was said and done, I had placed all of these details from approximately 100 sites into a spreadsheet, so that I could access them all from one location. This activity took me a few hours on a Sunday, but ended up being very valuable.
Phase 2: Initiating Contact
Once I had all of my data put together in a spreadsheet, I initiated contact with the owners (or webmasters) of the sites. I did this by either shooting them an email or using the contact form on their site. I typed up a generic email that I modified to suit the person I was emailing.
The email went something like this:
Hi [INSERT NAME]
I’ve just recently visited your site at [INSERT URL] and noticed that you have a page with resources for Biology Teachers. I’m currently developing a site that I think would be a benefit to your website Visitors. It’s an Interactive Biology website and the URL is www.Interactive-Biology.com.
I built this site primarily as a resource for my students. It has videos of my lectures, handouts, labs and even games that they can play to help them learn about the concepts we discus in our biology class. My students seem to enjoy it and I think it can be used to help others. In the last month, we’ve had visitors from over 75 countries access the resources provided on the site.
If you are interested in linking to the site, I would ask you to use the guidelines found on the following page: http://www.interactive-biology.com/linking-to-site/
If you have ANY questions, or if you need anything in terms of resources that I can help with, don’t hesitate to let me know!
All the Best!
As you can see, in the first paragraph of that email, I mentioned that they had a page with resources for Biology Teachers. This paragraph was the one that I adapted to fit the specific situation of the site owner/webmaster I sent the email too.
Using that process, I emailed approximately 20 site owners. Why only that many? I never really got around to finishing the project and will be outsourcing it in the near future.
Phase 3: Tracking and Followup
Once those emails were sent out, I played the waiting game. Out of the 20 emails, I heard back from 4 of those sites. They liked what I was doing and decided to link to my site from a page on their website. This made me very excited.
There was one site in particular that was a VERY high traffic site that also belonged to a Biology teacher. She had the site for a long time (over ten years) and also targeted biology teachers. She replied to me letting me know that she wrote a blog post about my site. In other words, this traffic was HIGHLY targeted traffic.
The results from my initial contact with those sites were interesting. The other two sites that linked to me sent me a handful of traffic, and that was definitely appreciated. However, that one site that linked to me sent me more visits than all of the others. To be more specific, it sent me 517 visits from that one blog post in the first month. However, that traffic soon died off as the blog post moved from the first page to being hidden in the archive.
Once I had gotten some more content on my site, I decided to follow up with that site owner to update her on my progress with the site and to make a specific suggestion to her in terms of linking back in a different way (one that would result in more traffic). This was a significantly longer email, so I won’t share it here, but the gist of the email was this:
I had made lots of improvements (and I provided specific examples). I appreciate her referring her audience to me and was getting great feedback from those visitors. If she needed any help with her site, I would be happy to assist. I then asked her if she would consider placing a link back to my site in her sidebar.
The reason behind me asking her for a sidebar link was simple – by doing so, there would be a backlink on every page of her blog and that could result in a steady stream of traffic. She quickly responded that she was happy to do so, and by the time I received the email back from her that went like this:
I will absolutely add you as a link. You are right about finding free and quality videos for education and your videos are great. I like the changes you’ve done to your site too, I don’t have a lot of time tonight to look at some of your new videos, but I did add you to the “education sites” links.
That was exactly what I was looking for, and it was exactly what I received. Happy me!
The Overall Result
As you can see, I put together a list of one hundred sites, contacted 20ish, heard back from four and followed up with one. That one site I followed up with was the most beneficial. It resulted in a significant amount of direct traffic, and also resulted in a number of other sites linking back to me.
I do not spend a lot of time working on my biology site. In fact, I haven’t updated it in about a month (shame on me). However, ever since I received that backlink (in January of this year), my traffic has increased every month. In the last month, the site has received 11,598 pageviews from 4,019 unique visitors according to Google Analytics, and I can track a significant amount of that traffic as being a result of that backlink.
Another great part of this process is that it all happened naturally. I didn’t go out there and buy some backlink software that automatically generated tons of spammy backlinks. I never worry about being penalized by Google for using shady blackhat techniques for generating backlinks. Google is starting to give me more authority. I can tell because they are sending me an increasing amount of traffic daily. My traffic is looking good, and I’m happy
The Next Phase: Outsourcing The Process
My Backlinking experiment went very well and this technique has proven to be a very valuable one. However, I just don’t have the time to do it effectively myself. I will record a video showing exactly what steps I took and will hand it over to an outsourcer. If spending a few days doing it myself had such a large effect, my prediction is that hiring someone to do it on a daily basis will go a long way when it comes to growing my traffic.
Tips for implementing this backlinking strategy
Now that I’ve gone through the strategy I’ve used for getting backlinks, let me share a few tips with you that can increase your success:
- Choose sites that are very relevant to your niche. Getting backlinks is always a good thing, but the ones that will have the biggest effect will be those with a target audience that is similar to your blog. That is how you will get your highest conversions.
- Seek to contribute value, not just get traffic. Traffic is a valuable resource, and most site owners who are worth connecting with value their traffic. It is obvious when someone is just trying to get traffic. I get numerous requests for links from my sites and I ignore almost all of them. However, there are a few that have stood out to me because I could really tell that they were trying to contribute value. Seek to do the same and people will notice.
- Don’t be spammy. This is probably a very obvious one, but I still wanted to mention it. Don’t just send out a bunch of spammy emails asking for links. There is so much spam out there that people are becoming immune to it. Show them that you are a real person who really wants to contribute value.
- Think big. I can imagine that there are many people out there who would go through this process and be afraid to send emails to the “Big Dawgs” in their industry. I would encourage you to think big and seek to contribute value even with those guys. You never know – they might just say yes, and the worse they could do is say no.
- Don’t ignore the smaller sites. No, they might not result in a ton of traffic immediately (or possibly ever). However, every link counts. You never know, a site that is smaller today could end up being huge in the future and send you a ton of traffic.
What Backlinking strategies have worked for you?
I’m not a backlinking guru, or anything of that sort. I did what I did because it just seemed to make sense, based on what I know about internet marketing. I’m sure there are many other great techniques out there and I would like to hear what has worked for you. Feel free to share your thoughts with me (and everyone else) by leaving a comment below.