Online Marketing: Drive Traffic with Content

By Alexander Hiam

To increase the length of time users spend on your website, to market efficiently to those visitors, and to ensure high involvement and return visits, you need to think like a publisher, not an advertiser. For this reason, strong content is the hidden factor for increasing website traffic. Unless you have valuable and appealing content, you may have difficulty building up traffic on your site.

If you don’t know how to write (or film) and publish great content for the web, enlist the help of eager young writers, videographers, and others who do. However you do it, make sure you enrich your hub site (and/or satellite sites) with valuable content visitors will want.

But be careful to keep this content relevant to your sales goals. As long as you’re attracting people who browse then buy, you’re on the right track!

Today’s most exciting web content is often published in social media first and then linked into the main website from Twitter, YouTube, and so forth. Traffic is out there on dozens of social media sites, so it makes sense to get out there, too, and try to attract some of it your way.

You basically have two kinds of content you can offer on your site. There are no commonly used, appropriate terms seem in the web lexicon, but these two terms below will sufice. (You may need to explain these terms and the content strategies they represent if you’re working with a web designer.) They are as follows:

  • Durable content: It holds its value and may be kept on your website in an easy-to-access archive.

  • Ephemeral content: It’s useful for a few days to a week but has to be replaced regularly, or else it gives your site an abandoned, neglected feel.

Try to have a mix of durable content (such as useful facts for your customers) and ephemeral content (such as commentaries on recent events or the latest how-to or demonstration video).

Update the durable content at least once a year and renew the ephemeral content every day or week, deleting out-of-date content as you add the new stuff. (Most websites have a lot of out-of-date ephemeral content on them; don’t let yours be one of them.)

If you don’t have a ton of time to keep updating ephemeral content, focus on putting durable content on your websites. This useful information accumulates on your sites and builds traffic more durably than ephemeral content.

And unless you’re a journalist or an insomniac tweeter and blogger, it’s hard to do your real work and also post fresh new content on the web every day. Durable content works for you while you ignore it. Your durable content should include reference materials of use to your customers, such as

  • A glossary of technical terms

  • A list of readings, web pages, and other useful references

  • White papers and how-to instructional pages and blogs

  • Instructional videos and photos (which you can post on YouTube or Flickr and call up to display on your hub website)

The useful or interesting content you add to your site to boost visits isn’t the same as that call to action that drives sales. Keep the call to action and the compelling sales copy top level and nest supportive content below it in the navigation hierarchy, so as not to set up obstacles to quick sales or opt-ins.