4 Ways to Increase Direct Website Visits
When trying to market a website, app, or any other internet entity, marketers' go-to strategies most often involve using 3rd party platforms to try getting more traffic. This is with good reason, as search, social and email strategies (including paid and organic options for each) are some of the most effective channels for driving traffic back to your own site.
But this leads to marketers potentially overlooking what is arguably the single most powerful and important traffic segment: direct visits. With SEMRush recently naming direct website traffic the single most important ranking factor, it becomes clear that direct visits simply should not be ignored.
Why Encourage Direct Traffic?
Direct visits include traffic that comes to your site without any referral, such as visitors who type your domain name into the URL field or access your site through a bookmark saved in their browser. (Other sources such as links clicked from PDF or Word documents, as well as untracked emails can also sometimes be considered direct traffic.) As pointed out by the SEMRush study, the more direct visits a website gets, the more likely it is to be ranked highly in search engines. In fact, the study suggests that direct visits are more valuable for SEO than bounce rates, content length, keywords and even backlinks:
But aside from the huge SEO potential, direct visits are extremely important because they're indicative of brand loyalty. If you're seeing that your direct visits are increasing, it means that visitors find your site valuable and authoritative enough to sidestep all other potential sources or search methods and go straight to you.
Even better, getting a lot of direct visits means you're not dependent on other services like Google or Facebook to get you traffic. Being able to have visitors that bypass search engines, social networks or online ads to get to your site means you have more control over your traffic overall, and it's almost guaranteed that your traffic will consist of many warm leads for your business.
All that being said, there's a reason why direct traffic isn't often discussed as a metric to focus on: it's much, much more difficult to get than referral traffic. Being an in-demand site that people know well enough to visit directly essentially means you've crushed the competition in your niche. Here are four things to concentrate on if you want to increase your direct visits:
#1 - Never Stop Building Your Brand
You've likely already spent significant time developing your company's branding. Everything from your company name to your brand style guide needs to be impeccably researched, defined and executed in order to be top-of-mind in your niche and generate direct visits. The important thing to remember here is that there's always more that can be done - even the most ubiquitous brands in the world never stop assessing their strategies.
Simply put, the more you work to develop your brand and stay true to it, the more users will think of you first. Here are some steps to consider if you haven't already:
- Define your target audience, and create 3-5 detailed buyer personas
- Define a company mission and vision statement
- Research other brands in your niche and determine benefits and qualities that are unique to your company
- Develop a brand voice that's used in all your content and communication with customers
- Consider changing your logo and tagline
It's important to note that, ideally, your company name and URL should be simple and easy to remember, allowing users to type it into their browser with ease.
#2 - Offline Marketing
Many marketers consider old-school methods of paid advertising such as print and billboards to be vastly overrated. For the most part, they're right - these "shotgun" approaches don't always provide the cost-effective results that the latest marketing methods can. On the other hand, offline marketing tactics can still play a role when trying to increase direct traffic. Attending live events and handing out business cards with your company's website on it can attract may direct visits, as can radio, TV and print ads if pursuing them makes sense in your niche.
#3 - Valuable, Regularly Published Content
Providing value is perhaps the single most important factor in getting more direct traffic. You need to be giving users something that makes them want to come to your site directly. In most cases, this means providing the absolute best content in your niche, including instructional blog posts, video, infographics and other forms of interactive content. Focused, expert-driven content that solves users' problems and provides them with actionable information will keep them coming back for more.
One way to encourage bookmarking or direct visits with your content is to provide specific content at regularly scheduled intervals. A great example of this is Moz's Whiteboard Fridays, which provides expert SEO and marketing discussion on a range of topics every Friday. People who need to stay updated on SEO know to go directly to the Moz site on Friday to see what Rand Fishkin is discussing that day.
#4 - Scheduled Contests and Promotions
Just like your regularly published content, it can be valuable to hold contests and promotions that require people to go to your website at specific times. These days, most businesses advertise contests and promotions on social media, but if you have such an event at the same time each day, week or month, customers may choose to bookmark your site and go to it directly rather than find you through social media every time they want to take part in the promotion. Of course, you'll want to make sure that your contest or promo is designed to encourage customers to come back for repeat visits.
Failing to Meet Your Direct Traffic Goals Is OK
Getting more direct traffic is hard, and it shouldn't necessarily be a top priority for every type of business. Also, you might find that methods for tracking your direct traffic are pretty unreliable - even Google Analytics. However, the good news is that, in the pursuit of increasing direct traffic to your site, you'll gain all sorts of other benefits along the way. Better branding, top-notch content, offline marketing and targeted promotions might not always get you more direct traffic, but you'll definitely start seeing SEO and lead generation benefits regardless of whether or not you're hitting your direct traffic goals. Either way, taking these steps can provide massive value for your company.
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