Monday, February 18, 2019

11 tips for how to get 1 million website visitors quickly

One of the reasons I don't write every day for Making A Mark is because I've got other websites to look after. One of these - Botanical Art and Artists - celebrated one million visitors sometime earlier today!

As I developed the site, I applied all the things I learned while developing Making A Mark.

Consequently, it made one million visitors MUCH faster than Making A Mark!

This is about what I learned and what I did to help develop an ever increasing number of monthly visitors
A chart of one million visitors by every month of its life
Note the upward trajectory - when you start to see an upward trend, you can keep that going up

In terms of traffic
  • Year 1 (2015): 24,007 - but that's only for 8 month as it started in April - averages 3,000 visitors a month
  • Year 2 (2016): 116,773 - an average just under 10k per month
  • Year 3 (2017): 243,838 - an average of just over 20K per month
  • Year 4 (2018): 392,459 - an average of nearly 33k per month
  • Year 5 (2019): January 2019 - 47k 
That means it's a site worth visiting, telling people about and coming back to - if you happen to be interested in botanical art!

The website now has a global audience from every continent except Antarctica and is way out in front in terms of ranking on the first page of Google for a lot of very relevant search queries.

What helps make your website successful

Botanical Art and Artists Home Page
Below is a list of things I know I did and which I think helped make my website succeed - and quickly

1. Make your website very focused 

The more niche your topic the more likely you are to attract visitors who want to find out more about it. By the same token if your art relates to an area which provides lots of competition, you're going to have to work harder to make your website stand out.

Your site needs to niche enough to lose lots of competition and big enough to provide enough content to get lots of traffic.

Traffic is important - because traffic begets traffic (i.e. people tell their friends).

Once the traffic numbers start to climb you can keep them climbing if you keep doing the right things.

2. Make every webpage very specific - make it a niche within a niche

Being very specific as to the topic of your page really helps a lot with attracting visitors.

Think about when you are shopping for something online.
  • Do you really start with a really generic term like "cars" or "paintings" or "watercolours"?
  • Or do you get much more specific as to what you want eg "landscape watercolour paintings of the highlands of Scotland"
so, for example:

  • "Watercolour paintings" = 51.3 million results
  • "landscape "watercolour paintings" of "Scottish Highlands" " = 29,800 results

3. Make every title very specific in terms of its topic

The search engines use WORDS to search and EACH page needs a title which explains precisely what it's about.

No need to be coy or clever or too general - unless you don't want any traffic!

Make it very relevant to the content and illuminating enough to get people to open a link. Note the title of this blog post! :)

4. Provide a short summary of what each page contains at the top.

If the title of the page interests then the meta description needs to close the deal and get them to click the link

I still find it very worthwhile to write a meta description of each page (in the SEO section) - as this is what Google et al use when they list a page on your website (as opposed to your website). This is really easy to do if you use websiteware which gives you access to the SEO info for your whole site and each page

If I get stuck I use the Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool which really helps with keeping focused. Aim for about 120-130 characters.

It's also a good idea to make sure that you
  • write a short summary of what each page contains at the top of each webpage 
  • AND make sure that this correlates with what the meta description says!

5. Make navigation very easy

People will never travel from one page to another unless you make navigation clearly signposted and really easy - and that includes when they get to the bottom of the page

The trunk test for websites is the notion that somebody can pop you in the boot (trunk) of a car and drive you out to the middle of nowhere - and you'd be able to find your way home.  However those that provide poor navigation or no indications of how to get back to the HOME PAGE will leave you forever in the limbo land desert.

6. Have a plan for how your website will develop

Complete the important bits first - and then develop your website over time - and keep developing it (or reworking it) - because Google hates a stale site!
  • Think about ways to expand your content. 
  • Lots of snippets can be more useful to your site then one all encompassing "all in one breath" quarterly update. Think about it - do you ever read newsletter updates all the way to the end

7. Use statistics to guide development

Statistics can be really useful in terms of making best use of your time. I've often had my presumptions challenged in a major way by statistics about traffic and what people want to see

I use Google Analytics and Statcounter and the stats from my webware provider. They all count in different ways.

It's the overall trends which really matter. You need to know:
  • which pages are very popular - and why 
  • which pages do not get traffic - and then work out why.
PS I don't believe social media numbers and that's because there are few ways of triangulating them. I think they tend to be haphazard at best given the number of tweaks per year the owners give their algorithms!

I do believe my website stats - because they make sense once you factor in the different ways they count.

8. People look at images and read words - but really they scan both!

Length of stay is an important factor in ranking websites - so you need to provide them with something which makes people want to open more pages and look and read more about you and your work

If you don't give them enough images to look at or words to read then they'll depart fairly fast.
  • make the images too small - they'll leave quickly
  • make the image files too big - they'll never open your page as it'll be too slow to load
  • if you have too many images showing on one page at a time the website may slow right down
You need to find ways of making images very easy to access, look good and yet not slow down your website. Personally speaking, I tend to aim for around about 100KB per image file but that's partly because I often have a lot of images on a page.

9. Write about what you know

Two things people want to know about
  • who you are
  • how you make your art
You are at least as important as your art online - people want to know about you and to know about your art. Show them your expertise and write about it.

Tell people about how you make your art. Seriously - it will make your website different from most! I linger longest on those websites where artists make their expertise accessible and informative. Show them images of your tools and materials and of you making art.

Write in a relaxed and friendly way. Don't be stilted - except when you're providing instructions and need to be precise.

10. Refresh and update a website regularly (use a blog)

Google really likes websites which are refreshed on a regular basis.
  • that means make sure everything is bang up to date 
  • check all pages on which you include items with date and make sure you update them as soon as an event is over. 
One of the excellent ways of doing this is to have a blog - and write regular blog posts. Remember they don't always need to be about your art - it can be about other art that interests you.

Use social media to drive people to your website - whatever works for you and your customers / clients.

11. Do link to relevant other websites - and encourage them to link back

So long as your links are seen as related in the eyes of Google, linking out is not a bad thing.

I should maybe point out that I have several thousand links out on the pages of my Botanical Art and Artists website - but they are all grouped in VERY SPECIFIC CLUSTERS i.e. pages. For example
Being a resource is in fact seen by Google as "a very good thing" - so be helpful!

So if you consider yourself an expert at your particular form of art, it does you no harm to share and show off your expertise. Tell them about exhibitions you've enjoyed or galleries / suppliers / framers who have been helpful.

It'll certainly make your website different to all those that have the identikit artists website I have to look at from time to time.

You can read more about Websites for Artists on my other website Art Business Info. for Artists 

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