Every business wants more website traffic because that means more leads, customers, and ultimately revenue. But the truth is most businesses aren’t super clear on how they intend to get that website traffic. They know what, but aren’t exactly sure how to get there.

In my experience, there are three basic ways to get more website traffic, each with their pros and cons.

  1. Search (SEO)
  2. Social Media
  3. Paid Ads
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You don’t need to master all three of these to be successful. Most profitable online businesses can only do one of these three really well.

1. Search Traffic

Search traffic refers to search engine optimization (SEO) which means optimizing your website to be found in Google. Put simply, it refers to creating website pages that match what your customers are searching for.

Benefits of search traffic

  • Great for local business
  • High conversion rate
  • Free

Disadvantages of search traffic

  • Requires SEO expertise
  • Very Competitive
  • It can take months to work

Recommended Search Tactics

2. Social Media Traffic

Social media traffic means getting visitors to your website from sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter and Pinterest.

Benefits of social media traffic

  • Can work instantly
  • Free to get started

Advantages of social media traffic

  • Requires an audience
  • Virality tough to engineer and impossible to repeat
  • Low conversion rate

Recommended social media tactics

  • Work with micro-influencers (2k-10k followers)
  • Post in highly engaged fb groups
  • Find an audience and create killer content

3. Paid Traffic

Paid traffic refers to paying a site or search engine to place an ad that directs visitors to your website either through banner ads, or search ads.

Benefits of paid traffic

  • Works instantly
  • Targeting is built-in
  • Easy to a/b test

Disadvantages of paid traffic

  • Pay to play
  • Larger budgets usually win
  • Ends as soon as you stop paying

Recommended Paid Traffic Tactics

  • Find untapped ad space (Unsplash)
  • Google Local Service Ads (pay-per-lead)
  • Set up retargeting

SEO helps you spot trends, avoid fads, and gut check “good ideas” without a focus group. It can tell you the best countries to expand your company, or the best time of the year to launch a new product. Understanding SEO will help you dissect your competitor’s success, learn from their failures, and leapfrog companies who will never see you coming.

While all three of the methods for increasing website traffic above have their place, Search traffic is by far the most reliable. It also usually takes the longest to see results. Even though paid and social can cause immediate spikes in traffic, they usually disappear just as quickly.

Think of your website as a fire you must keep going. If you pour gasoline on the fire it will burn big and brightly for a minute, but eventually, you’ll run out of gas and it will immediately return to where you started. Search traffic, on the other hand, is like adding logs to your fire—sure they’re going to take time to catch on fire, but they’re going to burn all night long.