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I keep recommending that people build backlinks and get more traffic to their site. The two usually go together hand in hand. But what if I told you that you could actually drive a lot of traffic to your website without manually building links at all?
Difference Between Organic and Referral Traffic
I've got two types of traffic sources:
1) organic traffic
2) referral traffic
Referral traffic could be Forbes linking to you, for example. If someone clicks from Forbes.com and lands on your site, that’s referral traffic.
Keep in mind that the two influence one another. For example, once you do get a backlink from a high-ranking site like Forbes, it can really push you higher in SERPs, which will also bring you more organic traffic.
Every backlink you get is like a vote of confidence. Think of like an election. The person with the highest number of links, or votes, typically wins. Search rankings work the same way.
So the real question is—how do you get higher organic traffic without relying on referral traffic?
Related Content: 5 Painless Ways to Build Premium Backlinks and Boost Rankings
Write (and Research) Viral Content
The quickest and easiest way to get traffic without building links is to write viral content. There are a lot of articles on Upworthy and Buzzfeed that break down how to write viral articles. If you read those, you'll get a much better sense of what you can create that might go viral. (Hint: use BuzzSumo to find what’s trending and create an even better piece of content.)
The other thing I do when I'm trying to write viral content is to go to YouTube, see what's hot, and then try and create content around that. YouTube-inspired blog posts typically do well.
Learn More: The Ultimate Guide to Link Building with Content
Double Down on Long-Tail Keywords
When it comes to getting good traffic, I also pay attention to long-tail keywords. Too many people compete for terms like “online marketing,” “credit cards,” or “auto insurance.” They don't try to compete for terms like “how to get affordable health insurance when you're in college.”
These long-tail keywords still get significant search volume. They actually get more volume than some similar but shorter keyword phrases.
Let's say you have a website about haircare. You can write an article titled “What is haircare?” Except you wouldn’t, because you know that no one would ever search for that online. You’d be much more likely to write an article like “How to create the perfect curls for your hair.” A lot of people search for long-tail keywords like that.
After you write these long-tail keyword pieces, will you be getting good search traffic in the next three or four months? Not a chance. But six months to a year down the road, you'll start seeing your rankings climb significantly.
Answer Your Audience’s Burning Questions
You have to realize that most people, when they’re searching on Google, are querying by typing in questions or fragments of questions. These types of long-tail keywords are often low-hanging fruit and they get a ton of traffic.
A great way to find the kinds of questions that people are asking is to search using Google’s autocomplete, look on Quora for popular questions, and look for Wikipedia results. Whenever you see a Wikipedia result ranking really high, there may be some opportunity for you to show up on page one because most Wikipedia pages don’t have many backlinks. You can also use paid tools like Moz to see domain or page authority for the top five rankings.
Capitalize on Niche Topics
In the Wild West days of SEO before Google Panda, many people became microsite millionaires just by creating websites with hundreds of pages all about a specific niche topic. Today, you can’t pull that off anymore—but you can still end up ranking really high if you just focus on a niche topic.
Read More: Google Panda in Plain English (Infographic)
For example, I actually own part of a gun blog, and right now we don't build a lot of links to it at all, but it still drives 180,000 visitors per month. I’ve also looked into senior living as a niche.
There are so many of these niches out there, and no one is really competing in the space from a content marketing angle. Just think about it—how many people in the U.S. alone would read a high-quality gun blog, and how many seniors around the world need advice on senior living?
If you start writing really great content using Brian Dean's skyscraper technique for a neglected niche, you don’t have to drive backlinks at all—but you’re still going to rank.
Here’s another example. If you Google the keyword “sales team,” you're going to see that one of my blog posts from Growth Everywhere is the top result. I didn’t drive a single backlink to it, either. That page started to rank because my site has good authority, but also because “sales team” is apparently a somewhat neglected keyword, which is mindblowing.
So take a look at niches that you’re interested in. If your niche hasn’t been attacked too much yet, you're going to start ranking pretty easily.
Related Content: How to Get Premium Backlinks When No One Knows Who You Are
Target Foreign Markets
Another example of niche marketing working out is Esposas online. It's a Brazilian blog that teaches women how to please their husbands. It gives them advice on stuff like how to cook better meals, how to make the bed, domestic stuff like that. I'm not saying a woman's job is to please her husband, that's just what the website is about, and they get a ton of traffic.
Long story short, they only built seven backlinks to the entire site. Guess how much search traffic they get on a monthly basis? Over 100,000 unique visitors per month from Google. Why? Because in Brazil content marketing isn't popular yet. The strategies that worked before Google Panda hit the U.S. still work, to a large degree, in countries like Brazil because they haven’t reached anywhere near keyword saturation yet.
If you create content for different countries, like the Latin America market or the Eastern European market, there's not a ton of competition out there. Most websites publish content in English. There's a ton of sites that are going after Mandarin despite the Great Firewall because as many as 200 million Chinese are using VPNs (almost the population of the U.S.).
So if you target markets other than the U.S. and you write in their native language, you can get a ton of search traffic without doing much manual work.
This post was adapted from Marketing School, a 10-minute daily podcast in which Neil Patel and Eric Siu teach you real-life marketing strategies and tactics from their own experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. Listen to the podcast version of this post below: