Why Writing Good Content Isn’t Enough to Get Traffic to Your Site
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“If you build it, they will come.”
This is an egregious misquote, but is still commonly used as a way to illustrate a common business principle: if you do something cool enough, good enough, or different enough, it’s going to generate attention all on its own. For example, if you serve amazing food at your restaurant, people will eventually spread the word and skyrocket the business to success. In the context of digital marketing, many people have taken this to mean that if you write content that’s good enough or helpful enough, eventually people will discover your site.
However, this isn’t the case. No matter how good your content is, it’s not going to get discovered accidentally; it’s on you to generate the initial traffic necessary.
We can start the conversation by focusing on how Google’s index works. When you create a website, you’ll make all your website content public; anyone with access to the URL can see your content. But that isn’t enough to generate traffic on its own, because people won’t experiment with random URLs until they find content. They need the URL to be presented in some context that allows them to find it.
This is where Google’s index comes into play. Google uses bots called crawlers (or spiders) to constantly sprawl the web, and keep a master list of every page of every site. From there, it decides how to contextualize and rank content based on hundreds of different factors. While it does have some checks for quality assurance (such as determining keyword density, grammatical cohesion, word count, etc.), it can’t tell that you have “good” content on its own. For that, it relies on secondary indicators of quality, such as the presence of inbound links. In other words, Google isn’t going to make your site visible in search engine results pages (SERPs) until it has some proof from a third party that your site is trustworthy.
Similarly, no person is going to share or talk about your site until you give them a reason. Your content, good as it might be, will be floating on a distant island, with no way to reach it—until you take the time to build a bridge.
Modes of Discovery
There are many ways to start building visibility to the “island” of your site, and most of them take the form of marketing and advertising strategies:
- Search rankings and SERPs. First, you could capitalize on your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Google will index your site automatically, but if you want a chance to be featured in higher rankings, you need to modify your site to comply with its technical standards, and produce content that’s optimized for target keywords and phrases. On top of that, you’ll want to use SEO link building, which can boost your authority, serving as the third-party indicators of quality it needs most.
- External publishers. You could also bypass the technical elements of SEO and try to establish your reputation by working with other publishers, which may already have a reputation of their own. For example, you could write guest posts for a news site related to your industry, or some niche blog connected to your business. In any case, you’ll improve your brand’s reputation and get the chance to link back to your site, enabling its discovery.
- Social media. Even more commonly, webmasters turn to social media. Assuming you have a decent number of followers, sharing your content could be the perfect way to generate public interest. If your readers like the content, they’ll share it further, eventually connecting it with hundreds, or even thousands of people.
- Influencers. Within or outside the realm of social media, you could connect with influencers in your industry to popularize your content. Depending on your goals, that could mean collaborating with an influencer on a piece of shared content, having them reference your work, or even directing people to your blog.
- Advertisements. The simplest, but most expensive way to get initial traction for your blog is to advertise it. Paying for an ad is guaranteed to attract at least some traffic—and that could be all you need to get started.
If you want your website to be successful, you need to have high-quality content (and update your blog regularly). But that alone isn’t enough to make it successful. You need your site to be discoverable, and for that, you’ll need to invest in at least one powerful marketing and/or advertising strategy. Once you get a stream of regular visitors to your site, they may start spreading word about the quality of your content to others, but generating that initial stream is a necessity if you want to succeed.
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