I recently read an article on How To Use Content To Drive Traffic To Your Website on Social Fresh by Ashley Verrill. The 3 tips that Ashley gave in the article were:

  1. Become Best Friends with Bloggers.
  2. Optimize Your Article.
  3. Use Technology to Listen and Capture.

Since this tied in great with a previous post on the importance of social media, I reached out to Ashley and her colleague Holly Aker in order to discuss the topic further and ask if she would help with some follow up questions. She graciously agreed to speak with me and here is the conversation that followed.

What do you think the number #1 problem that new bloggers have when they are trying to drive traffic to their website?

Hands down, it’s nailing their audience. There’s no point in driving traffic to your website if it’s from people that will never actually buy from you. The best way to ensure you are driving the right traffic is to first write a buyer persona. This is a hypothetical representation of your ideal customer, based on who your real customers are. This includes their demographic information, of course. But more importantly, what are their biggest business and personal challenges? What are their goals? What are their objections to buying from you? All of your content should speak to these factors, and they should be crafted around keywords that receive traffic.

You mentioned to become best friends with bloggers. How does a new blogger build relationships with other bloggers? How do you engage influencers in your market? How can that drive traffic?

Becoming best friends with bloggers drives traffic in two ways: one, it creates a link on another website that can drive traffic; and two, links from other websites signal to Google that you are a credible website and should be ranked higher than other websites that don’t have links from other relevant websites. You should be really strategic with who you build relationships with, however. Not every link is created equal. You want them to come from websites that are highly relevant to your industry or market, and that have a high domain authority. One strategy I use to identify valuable targets is searching your most valuable keywords in Google, and seeing who ranks highest for those terms. You can make a good bet that getting a link from those websites will increase your ranking for the same term (and others that are relevant). When you identify those sites, you should take a PR approach. Take time to evaluate their content. See what they write about, and who they talk to, and personalize your pitch to that specific target. If you’re hitting a wall, follow them on social media and start to comment on their articles and posts, but don’t just say “great article.” Ask a question, or share some useful insight. Ideally, you want them to respond to your directly. Then you have ammunition to reach back out to them via email.

How do I find sites that have outbound links? Why is that important?

This is important because ideally you want that website to link to you, again, because that’s a signal to Google. Think of it like a vote of confidence. ScreamingFrog is a really good tool for finding which pages on a website have outbound links. But you can also do this manually without taking too much time. Just browse their blog and see if you find any hyperlinks.

You also mentioned to optimize your article, why is that so important? Do I just optimize it for Google? What about Bing or other search engines?

Optimizing articles is important because it helps ensure your articles are found organically (in other words, they show up when potential customers type questions in Google), rather than just relying on social shares, or links from other websites. If you optimize for Google, you are more than likely accommodating the other search engines. I’ve never had an instance where an article ranked wildly different across varying search engines.

My social media is becoming unmanageable. I can’t do it and run a small business. Are there any tools that can help me get a handle on this?

There are hundreds of social media management tools, so it really depends on your goals (there are all kinds of tools specific to surfacing leads, providing social customer service, or analyzing customer sentiment). But I would say in general, tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can accomplish most of the goals of a small business. You really only want to listen for mentions of your brand, URL, and social media handles, plus possibly a few thought leaders. So these tools can help you in that way. They also allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time, so if you know you have a blog publishing on a certain day, you can pre-schedule three updates to go out that day.

You can read Ashley’s original article here and connect with her on Twitter.

Ashley Verill

Ashley Verrill is a Market Analyst at Software Advice, as well the Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog. She has spent the last seven years reporting and writing business news and strategy features, including articles for GigaOM and CIO.com. Her work has also been cited in myriad publications including Forbes, the New York Times and Inc. Previous to her current role, she worked for five years as a Web Editor and Reporter for the Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. She also spends time in sales management and advertising with an Austin-based startup. She graduated from the University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.