Here are most widespread methods of getting site natural traffic:
Stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” is the technique of putting certain words and markers into the design and content of websites in order to help search engines, also called “spiders,” literally crawl across sites, and recognize them. It is a marvelously efficient tool for assessing sites, and relies on no human or qualitative bias; as such, it is also dependent on the technical skills of site owners to maximize the readability of their sites for search results, as well as owners’ ability to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing nature of how, where, when and how often the world’s leading search engines conduct those crawls. The rules change often. Sites that are best at SEO usually get the most visitors, since their destinations are teed-up when people search. It’s intriguing that the most common and reliable way for websites to drive traffic has nothing explicitly to do with any measure of a site’s worth or utility, at least not exclusively or mostly, but rather a technical ability to feature prominently in search results.
Another automated mechanism that affects the ranking of sites in search results is the number (and quality) of inbound links to sites from other sites. The philosophical basis of this tool is that “better” or more useful sites will have more links to them, which may appear in page content, blog posts, etc. The practical outcome is that this mechanism can be “gamed” by the purposeful placement of those links, and/or through cooperative agreements between sites (whether independently or collaboratively owned). Also, the exact values of links, whether the amount or relative weightings given to them, are not publicly known, and each search engine maintains its own algorithmic equations. It’s assumed that the system is equally fair/unfair to all, though of course there are websites that are far more expert at exploiting this mechanism than others.
Perhaps one of the most overt and therefore transparent ways sites drive traffic is it to literally buy placement in search results, which are usually exhibited above or beside the results of SEO and links (called “organic,” though they’re not) and called “sponsored.” This is most often accomplished by bidding on certain words that a targeted consumer might use when looking for a business. If it’s the top bid when that term appears, the business is listed above other bidders. Though noted with a label that reveals these results are sponsored, it can be argued that many users have no idea that the results are any different than an objective and open ranking of sites. This, of course, is the purpose of sponsoring search results.
Another more overt way to drive traffic to a website is to proactively ask for it, either via outbound promotions, like email or social media campaigns, or to make sure that other, traditional types of advertising media reference the site. Most product labels have websites on them, along with encouragement for consumer visits, often for added value content and/or customer support. Many receipts written at geophysical stores also include a website along with some encouragement or incentive for visiting, and most businesses offer some form of loyalty or rewards program that involves regular outreach to drive visits. All of these mechanisms can be considered outbound promotions.
A growing tool for driving site traffic is the proliferation of rankings, whether on third-party sites or company-owned websites. This is especially evident in areas like hotel and other travel-related markets, in which reviews can make one site more attractive than another. It’s similarly evident in movie marketing, as a volume of good reviews will drive more website traffic than bad ones. This mechanism is also quite transparent, though it, too, can be gamed by purposeful reviews generated by businesses, not individual customers.
There are many factors that go into how, and how often, people are directed to particular websites. Few of them are wholly without some quality of insider knowledge, or available budget, that influences results. In most instances, traffic is the results of 1) a company’s ability to work the system, 2) its willingness/ability to pay for search prominence, and only then 3) the likely objective merits of a site, though determined by imprecise, quantitative tools.Things may be changing, though, as Google recently announced that it is exploring ranking sites in its search results according to the accuracy of content (of course, the sponsored results will never go away), and it is also likely to only rank sites that provide mobile accessibility.These may well be improvements, but accomplished in a system that can be best characterized as trading one bias (that of human-led interpretation) with another one (a technical system that is somewhat opaque, and its controls not available equally to all).The message to users: Caveat emptor.