How Do Visitors Find Your Website?

Just because you build a beautiful website and put it out there on the web, doesn’t mean that anyone is going to be able to find your website.

That’s probably a hard truth for lots of my clients. Many believe that if they build it, clients will come. They still believe in the myth of internet foot traffic. 

And on top of that, I see too many people surprised that every single site visitor doesn’t buy something or sign up for their list.

Just like when a new storefront opens in a busy shopping center, many business-owning moms figure they’ll get “passers-by” traffic and customers to their website. But it doesn’t quite work like that.

Imagine opening a sewing shop on the 5th floor of a random office building in a sketchy area of town. Not much foot traffic, especially from your demographic. Without any further work, hackers might find you, but your quilting crowd sure won’t.

If you build it, no one will automatically happen by. There’s just no foot traffic. You have to create it, and it’s not hard, but it’s more work than you think it will be. Persistence is the key.

Ways people can find your website

Here’s a very high level outline of website traffic and how to help people find your website. I notice that many of my clients are experts in their own fields, but get confused when it comes to getting traffic to their site. 

How do visitors find your website?

1| Direct

Just like GPS – you type in the address, and the browser will get you there. So, for this method to work, your site visitor has to already know your business name and/or your web address(URL). 

If you’re opening a brand new business, then you won’t really have these people. Nobody is going to accidentally type in your URL (ok, nearly nobody) and be delighted they found your site. You will have to get the word out before anyone can type in your URL.

2| Referrals

When a visitor clicks on a link somewhere on the web and lands on your page, that’s called referral traffic. You can get links to your site from other sites if you’ve been around for a little while and provide unique, valuable resources. 

Again, though, if you have a brand new website, there will be no links to your website from other sites. First those website owners have to discover your site, then recognize the value your bring, and then link to your site.

3| Social

I’m breaking this out because Google Analytics does, and because thinking about it separately can help with building strategy. Social traffic is just referral traffic from social media sources. 

Visitors can find your website URL on your social media profile links, or from links within social posts themselves (if allowed on the platform). These posts could be things that you yourself post or from others’ posts about you and your business.

A great thing about social media traffic is that you can build it up over time for free, spending only your time. Or, you could pay someone to make those posts for you. The resulting traffic is called organic social traffic.

You can also advertise on social media. This often involves paying two parties, the social media platform (for “air time”) and a marketing company to build the ads and properly target the right audiences for you. (You could certainly do the ads and targeting yourself, but that could mean wasting money displaying ads to the wrong people.) This is called paid social traffic.

4| Search

Search engine traffic arrives at your site when a visitor types a word or phrase into a search engine, sees your site is in the list of results, and then clicks on the link to your site. I think everyone must be familiar with Google, but there’s also Bing and Yahoo, as well as social-search hybrids like YouTube and Pinterest.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the art of making your website attractive to search engines. If you have a lot of valuable content on your website, most people find your website through search engines. You can make your site attractive to search engines yourself, or you can pay an expert to help you optimize your site. Resulting traffic from SEO efforts is called organic search traffic.

You can also pay to advertise on search engines, just like you can on social media. You pay the search engine itself for putting your ad out there, and you pay a marketing company for building the ad and figuring out who to target. (Again, you could do the marketing part yourself, but unless you know what you’re doing, you risk wasting money.) This is called paid search traffic.

Next steps

I hope this helps you become a little clearer on how to get people to find your website. I wish just building the sites would get people to visit, but it just doesn’t work that way. If you’re going to the trouble of building a great website, you need to make sure you have a plan for promoting it so that you get a few visitors!

Then, once you have those visitors, make sure that your website isn’t just pretty, but that it does what it can to get visitors to take action.

Photo by Gyorgy Bakos on Unsplash

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