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Getting Traffic vs. Building Trust

getting website trafficGetting website traffic to your blog or company website is one of the toughest things for a bootstrapping entrepreneur to do. So tough that many seemingly honest entrepreneurs stoop to very low borderline levels of integrity just for the sake of getting traffic to their website. Why is this?

Well for one, most of the gurus who teach people how to get website traffic routinely suggest “black hat” tactics as the only way to do it. As a result, many honest people are swayed to implement black hat methods for getting traffic because these are more or less the only methods suggested when you search google for tips.

However, the reality is people are using the wrong search queries.  You should not be searching for the answer of how to get website traffic, you should be searching for how to build a trusted website.  Trust on the internet is critical if your goal is to build a business that becomes a long term asset, not just a short term income generator that can be snatched away overnight with a google algorithm change. If you focus on building trust, getting website traffic will be earned as a byproduct.

The problem most people will point out is that building trust is hard, it takes too much time, and it cannot be condensed into a simple, repeatable system.  I cannot argue with these three points. Building trust is hard, it does take time, and cannot be boiled down into a simple system.  But guess what, that’s the point.

You can’t trust everyone, and there is no way that the schemes being taught for getting traffic today will lead to being trusted.  Nevertheless, I do want to highlight three of the most common techniques for getting website traffic and show how you can turn them into techniques for building trust by rolling your sleeves up and putting some elbow grease to work.

1. Article Spinning

Black hat method: Many of the experts teach that in order to get traffic you should start with article spinning.  This is all about faking out search engines and article directories into thinking you there are tons of unique, quality articles linking back to your website.   However, the reality is that article spinning is nothing more than someone writing a single keyword stuffed article, then using synonym words and phrases to create 10 or more versions of the same article that only appear to be unique.   Once the article is spun, it is then mass submited to places like EzineArticles.com with links to your website included in the author bio and within the URL anchor text inside the article.

Trust Building Method: Join communities like Squidoo and HubPages and develop a real relationship with the readers of those sites.  Instead of posting your best content on your website only, reserve some of your best content for submitting to these higher quality author communities over several months instead of several days.  Then deeply engage with the readers on those communities in order to build a meaningful dialogue around the content you submit.

Why building trust works better: Article spinning is designed specifically for google’s search bots, not real people.  So even though you may temporarily get a higher page rank for you website as a result of those efforts, you will only get strangers to your website who are difficult to convert to customers.

If you build a relationship with readers within author communities, the traffic you bring to your website will not come from strangers.  It will come from people who respect the work you are producing and who have become regular readers of your content.  These are the type of people who convert to real customers.

2. Guest Posting

Black hat method: The method commonly taught for guest posting is not necessarily black hat, but it is low quality.  What most experts tell you is that you should not guest post on someone else’s website more than one time.  They tell you this because once you get your first guest post on a particular website with a link back to your website, you have gotten all the “link juice” you can get from that site.  By “link juice” I mean that if a website has a very good google page rank and they link to your website,  some of their page rank will rub off on your site.

The theory is that link juice can only be passed to you one time from a website, so don’t bother guest posting more than once. The recommendation is that you spend your time searching and guest posting on as many different high page rank sites as you can, so that each of them can pass you more link juice.

Trust Building Method: Identify the top one or two websites in your niche, then work to become a regular contributor on those sites.  Instead of guest posting on different sites every week, guest post exclusively on those sites.

Why building trust works better: Again, the idea of guest posting is not necessarily black hat in itself. However, it is a waste of your time and the time of the site you are guest posting for if you are going to just submit one post and never come back.  Getting website traffic is not about getting people to come to your site one time, only for them to never come back. It’s about getting repeat visitors who ultimately become customers. Working to become an exclusive guest contributor with a trusted website will be much more valuable in the long run than building link juice that can be taken from you overnight when google changes their page rank algorithm.

What’s even more of a risk is that blogs come and go everyday.  You may spend the entire year creating guest post on 25 sites, then in two or three years all 25 of those sites could no longer exist.  All of that work would have been for nothing.  It is very rare for the top site to disappear.  Even if it does, by being a regular contributor who writes great content,  the thousands of readers on that high quality site will follow you to wherever you are on the web.

3. Paying for likes, views, retweets

Black hat method:  It is becoming more and more common for the experts on getting website traffic to teach their readers to pay for social media credibility.  The idea here is that search engines are starting to measure a website’s page rank by the number of social signals it gets (i.e. Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and YouTube video views).  Therefore, in order to get your website more traffic, you should pay someone on a site like Fiverr a nominal amount to fake these social signals.

Trust Building Method: Each social media site is different.  But at the end of the day, it’s all about creating high quality, useful content and then creating authentic conversations around that content.  I don’t consider myself much of a Facebook or YouTube expert.  But what works well for me on Twitter is to get highly engaged with people when the first start following me.  I do this by asking relevant questions about the projects they are working on, conferences they are attending, and about the links they share. I also acknowledge and thank people who share my tweets with their followers.  Once I do that, it is much easier to create authentic conversations around the content I share.

One other method that may work well for you if you have exclusive content and offers on your site is to use a social content locker.  This is a pretty cool method to secure your exclusive content and only unlock it if the page is shared.  I wrote a detailed post about how social content lockers work a few days ago.

Why building trust works better:  First of all its free.  I can’t imagine paying $5.00 for someone to generate 100 Facebook likes for an article I write.   In addition, the main downfall I see to this is that you are ignoring the fact that you are creating content that no one likes.  What’s the point of writing a blog post on your website if no one truly likes it?  To me this is a signal that you either need to take a writing class or that your content is not resonating with your target audience.  It is better to use that $5.00 and the time it takes to find a low paid contractor on Fiverr towards fixing those two problems.

What’s more, getting authentic data from social media can be invaluable for growing your business.  If you write an article that get tons of retweets and likes, then that’s a signal that you hit a hot button topic for your audience.  You can then use that signal to create more content around that topic such as webinars, YouTube videos, and ebooks.

If you think the reason you aren’t getting enough traffic on your website is because people aren’t sharing your content on social media sites, you are dead wrong. People share content they trust. That is why building trust is how you get traffic to your site, not the other way around.

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