Let’s start with free traffic or organic traffic. The primary goal of most websites is to be found in the free search engine results when someone searches for someone in your industry. If your website is one of the first two or three that shows up, then you have a good organic ranking and your website should have increased traffic purely by its location in that list. All of the things we have discussed prior play a part in this ranking. Adding videos, using your social media profiles, reviews sites, and directory listings can all give you more real estate on the search engine results page. You also need to keep an eye on the local listings and maps. Remember, the correct formatting of your address and citations from directories help you get in these local listings. Local listings are important because they show up before the organics and they can show your review ratings. All of the available spots in the organic search results are considered free traffic in the technical sense of the word. Despite how hard you most certainly worked to get your placements there.
Alternatively you can pay to get traffic to your website. Getting paid traffic comes with many options. The most common paid ads are the sponsored listings you see at the top of the search engine results page and sometimes down the side bar. When you do a search for a keyword or phrase, the businesses you see listed there have paid to be in the search engine’s auction for that particular keyword. The amount you are willing to pay to be seen in the paid areas is directly related to the quality of your website, as well as the competition in your market. These prices can range from a few nickels to over a hundred dollars per click. There are so many options, tips and tricks to maximizing your exposure in these listings that they need their own book. Along with the common sponsored ads there are other lesser known paid advertising spots you may not be aware of. For instance, you can show ads before, below, and after videos on YouTube. You can also run image ads on certain websites. These ads are called display ads and they come in various shapes and sizes and are excellent for branding. Display ads are bid on in much the same fashion as regular sponsored ads except you can pay for the number of impressions instead of clicks. These types of ads are excellent for branding campaigns. In conjunction with display ads there is a sneaky little thing called a cookie you can use to show your ads to someone who has already visited your website. What the heck does this mean? Have you ever visited a website looking for shoes and then for weeks after that shoe ads show up on every website you went to? This happens because the website you looked at shoes on cookied your computer, marking you as a qualified shopper. This is known as remarketing. The hope is that if they internet stalk you, that eventually you will buy their shoes. This is a great way to get your message in front of qualified eyes that are already looking for your services.
As with everything else discussed on this site there are many fine details to paid advertising. These points are especially important because your credit card is directly billed and if you are not careful you can be out thousands of dollars. Some tips to keeping your cost down are making sure your ads land on the most appropriate page for each specific ad, and this may not necessarily be the homepage. Make sure your ads are geo-targeted and demographically targeted. If your target market is in a certain area or of a certain age or gender your ad should only show to that paid ads need to be spot check constantly to make sure that you were spending your money wisely and effectively.
Social media sites also allow advertisers to place paid ads on their networks. Facebook and Twitter allow paid advertisers to target their users. You can pinpoint social media users by interests, keywords, demographics and geography. Depending on your target audience these can be great branding opportunities that are relatively inexpensive. Then of course there are the sponsored listings on directories and review sites we discussed previously. Paid and free ads serve the same purpose, making you money. It will likely take a combination of several of them to see the greatest return and testing needs to find the right combination takes time. But make no bones about it when you find that sweet spot between paid and free traffic it will pay off.