What’s the first thing that usually comes to mind when someone talks about increasing website traffic?
Specifically ad campaigns (the bus stop bench ads of the internet, right?)
To which you immediately respond by throwing your hands up in despair, thinking all hope is lost, because:
A) Running Facebook Ads feels like looking at the dashboard of the International Space Station (A.K.A actual rocket science ) andddd…
B) Last time you checked, you weren’t a trust fund baby and you don’t have oodles of cash just lying around for you to play Facebook Ad Roulette with.
Now, my goal in everything I share on the ol’ blog is to give you all the info you need to help you make a decision about what makes sense for your own business based on the stage you are in, and where best to be spending your limited time and resources right now.
Let’s look at why jumping straight into Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Pinterest Promoted Pin Campaigns, etc. may not make sense as the first thing you reach for when trying to increase traffic to your domain.
You have to pay to play
That ad you’re running? It’s only working as long as you continue feeding it. The minute that dries up, so does traffic from that ad. So it’s def more of a short-term, quick-win kind of strategy.
You need a pretty decent budget for ads to be effective
Ads are all about testing.
Testing ad audiences (who you want to pay to have your ad shown to), ad placement (where your ad will be shown/which platform), ad creative (what image, video or other type of visual medium will your audiences be most likely to click), and so on!
There are soooo many things to be A/B split testing and comparing, and since you’re bidding against other people in your industry for that spot to get your ad shown, each one of those different groups or ad types needs a healthy budget in order to make it happen.
It’s not ‘set it and forget it’
A few of the site traffic tips I mention later in this post will be just that: set it and forget it! You do the thing once, and you never have to revisit that thing.
No so with ad campaigns…
You take your eye off the ball for a couple minutes, and suddenly the algorithm stops delivering your ad, or you’ve got a giant unexplainable lead in your CPL (cost per lead earned by your ad), or Facebook decides to completely change the way they report your results overnight…
And you’ve now blown a whole month’s budget without really being sure what just happened…♀️
Ok, so I’m being a tad dramatic (since my team and I are in the throes of learning Facebook Ads at the mo, and it feels like a lot) but in all honesty…
But if ads are not quite feeling like the knight in shining armor your site needs right now, what is?
Enter: Organic traffic (A.K.A free ways to increase traffic to your site)
In a nutshell, it’s making tweaks to your site and content so that it has the best chance of appearing near the top of search results whenever someone searches something related to what you do/offer.
It’s not some secret setting or button in the backend of your site that you toggle on and suddenly start appearing on page 1 of Google.
It’s something you build over time, starting from the first day you sit down to create your site (which is why it’s the first module I cover with students of my Square Secrets Course!)
But if you haven’t been doing it yet, no big!
It’s never too late to circle the wagons and start thoroughly overhauling your site strategy!
There are two types of SEO to look for when building and managing your Squarespace site…
1. The built-in BTS SEO settings Squarespace provides to help you win at SEO, which can be found by poking around in your site settings, as well as each individual page’s page settings.
2. The on-page SEO, or the tweaks you can make to the actual content visitors see on the page.
Both of these are important to your strategy!
The easiest way to nail SEO for your site, whether behind the scenes or on the page, is to focus on keywords…basically whatever words or phrases someone would be most likely to type into Google in a search related to your industry.
You have your main keywords, the super obvious general words or terms that point to what you do/offer on your site. (ie. wedding photographer)
Then you have your long-tail keywords, or the most likely phrases to be searched.
Long-tail keywords are what help searchers get more specific with their queries, and helps search engines to deliver much more target, relevant results. (ie. Seattle Fine Art Wedding Photographer, Rocky Mountain Elopement Photographer) These search terms are easier to rank for than your main keywords, since there won’t be as many people who’s site content matches those specific phrases.
Here’s a few tools to help get you started!
Pro-tip: if you end up needing to upgrade to the paid versions of any of the below tools, try batching all your keyword research in one sitting every few months so that you can cancel your subscription the months you aren’t using it!
Now, where to put those keywords…
Site title (Add one even if you have a logo you are using instead of a site title!)
Page or item descriptions & blog excerpts
URL slugs (ie. paigebrunton.com/work-with-paige is short and easy to remember, but also includes my main keywords related to what content lives on that page)
SEO titles (page settings > SEO)
SEO descriptions (page settings > SEO)
Blog post titles
Headings (anything text you format with H1, H2, H3, or H4 on your site or blog)
Categories & Tags
Image & file names (A.K.A Alt text)
Heads up! When it comes to using Keywords, be sure to write for actual humans first, and Google bots second. Only include SEO keywords if it feels natural in a sentence!
Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect you are looking for, and Google will ding you for what they’ve deemed “keyword stuffing!”
List your physical location: using map blocks and typing out your address in a text block (either on your contact page or site footer, or both)
Set up a Google Business Listing by signing up with Google My Business
Verify your site with Google Search Console
Your site would be prettyyyy dang boring and robotic if you had to find a way to fit every single one of your keywords right there on your home or about page.
This is where content creation comes in!
It’s like adding a brand new, highly relevant, super in-depth page to your website that covers one very specific topic and one topic only (andddd just so happens to cover every possible keywords that could point to it.)
And people will flock to it!
A) You have made it legit useful, answering questions they haven’t been able to find anywhere else in their search.
B) It’s free.
So not only are you making it way easier for Google to rank you at the top of a search result, but you’ll become known as an expert on that topic, and super generous with your knowledge, therefore building trust and authority with your audience.
The best part?
For real. I have blog posts that I wrote way back in 2016 that are still bringing in crazy amounts of traffic!
What do I mean by that?
If someone is taking to Google to actively search for something, then chances are they are genuinely interested in that topic (and therefore more likely to be interested in and ready for your paid offering.)
Someone who is passively scrolling social media, and Facebook decides to show them an ad they might, sorta, maybe, *hopefully* be interested in because they clicked on an ad for Root Beer flavored toothpaste 2 months ago. ♀️
So traffic from content creation is considered highly targeted…not just semi-relevant, could-be-a-match kind of traffic.
Oh, and it gives current users a reason to return, where they wouldn’t otherwise need to if they had already read all 5 pages of your site and saw everything there was to see.
(For more on the why behind this, check out: 1 big SEO mistake YouTubers & Podcasters are making.)
Okie dokes, before we move on, there are two other types of content I highly suggest offering to drive more traffic to your Squarespace site…
Hosting a webinar or creating some sort of super valuable lead magnet is a fabulous way to increase site traffic while also converting visitors into actual subscribers!
Want your site visitors promo your site for you and market your business on auto-pilot?
Make your content highly shareable!
No one is ever going to be like “Wow, check out Paige’s about page!’
But they will share your content if they were genuinely helped by it and think others might be too!
So turn on those Social Sharing buttons and Pin It buttons, add share-worthy images to your blog posts, YouTube Shownotes, and Podcast Shownotes, and add tweet-worthy quotes.
(I show you how to turn on those settings, and add an easy click-to-tweet feature to your content in this post: 6 website tweaks for super-shareable blog posts).
You spent a lot of time carefully creating your SEO rich content! Don’t let your blog or Channel be the only place you shout out about it!
Repurpose that content into social media content, making sure to always point visitors back to where they belong…on your site!
My fav way to do this is to Story about what I’m working on, or write some an engaging post that uses a little story or illustration that hints at the need or ‘why’ behind my newest bit of content, and then send my audience over to actually consume the content on my own site, rather than giving it all away in the post.
Feeling like you hit a plateau with your site traffic? Like maybe your niche audience is just tapped out?
Collaborate with people in similar or adjacent industries to reach new (but still highly relevant) audiences!
I’ll use blogging as an example since it’s how I generate 99% of the organic traffic my site gets (but you can substitute whatever type of content like)…
Say I wanted to pitch myself as a guest blogger to other sites to get more traffic.
I could run to my direct competition and ask to share my Squarespace knowledge with their audience, but I’m probably going to run into two things:
A) They probs aren’t going to be super excited about shining the spotlight on someone who offers exactly what they offer and therefore could poach sales
B) If I offer the exact same thing they do, there’s probably already a major overlap in our audiences, so I wouldn’t really be getting much new traffic for all that work!
Now, say I decide to pitch a blog post idea to a website that teaches aspiring photographers how to start a photography business.
My post might be something like ‘10 things every photographer needs on their website to book more clients.’
I’ve now been genuinely useful both to the host site and their audience, and created a super non-salesy plug to my own site in the process.
The same is true of letting other people guest blog or collab with you on content to be shared on your own site!
You are providing new, relevant, and highly useful content to your own audience, and when they excitedly go to show it off to their own audience, your site traffic to that piece of content has now effectively doubled!
Backstory: Mariana has created a super niche web design business serving only fine artists.
She’s so hyper focused on serving a specific audience, that she is now seen as the expert in that thing, and was actually invited to be featured in an online course meant for fine artists!
So now, every single time someone buys that course with the intent of growing their fine art business, and benefits from Mariana’s contribution, they can’t help but want to click over to Mariana’s site to see what else she has to offer!
So it never hurts to look for ways to get your site or content featured in publications, aggregate sites or online communities, or even educational materials that directly or indirectly relate to what you do!
It’s not just new site traffic you’re after…
You also want a way to remind past visitors of your site (and your offerings) from time to time!
People are busy, so even your most loyal fans can forget about your business when they go about their every day life.
You need a way to say:
‘Hey remember me? Still putting out awesome content here!’
Google likes to see return visitors, because having someone come back for more means that your site must be providing real answers.
(And Google really loves giving real answers.)
When you shout out about something new going on on your site in a weekly newsletter to your email list, someone who may not have bothered to visit your site is suddenly reminded just how much they love your content.
(Or better yet, just how much they really do need your paid offering!)
We get a lot of emails come through the PB inbox, but there’s one email we literally get hundreds of times a week…
I was reading your article at “paigebrunton.com/blog/whatever-blog-post” and wanted to see if you would be interested in linking our article *insert URL here*, because we think your audience would find it highly useful.”
*Article has nothing to do with my post whatsoever* ♀️
Word of advice?
If you are going to make backlinks your strategy for building domain authority and increasing traffic to your site, make darn sure you have something super useful to link to!
This can include:
Other content creators in your industry are going to want results to back up what they are sharing on their site, but won’t necessarily have time to conduct a super thorough survey themselves to get those stats.
Be the resource everyone links when they talk about stats related to your industry!
Helpful charts or infographics
Take something that is usually quite complicated in your industry, and create a super helpful chart or graphic that breaks it down into easy-to-understand steps and watch as your graphic is Pinned, shared, and reposted on repeat!
My Squarespace 7.0 and 7.1 Template Comparison Chart is no doubt one of the top pieces of content driving new traffic to my site each month!
So try to think of something that would be really useful to people in the exact stage of their journey you are hoping to reach them in (ie. beginner) and provide it for free on your site!
Oh, and P.S…
Don’t let all that glorious past content go to waste!
Just like I’ve been doing all throughout this post, link to your own relevant content frequently throughout your site to increase the number of pages a person views when they do visit!