Organic search traffic is a double edged sword.
On the one hand, you need rankings to get search traffic.
On the other hand you need traffic to help rankings.
I’m a firm believer that content, if on-site SEO is solid, can increase rankings with traffic, even paid traffic, just because a collateral result of traffic is links and social signals. Perhaps there’s more collateral ranking benefits, but those are two for sure. That’s why it’s important to get hustling for traffic as soon as possible.
I’ve seen this happen firsthand many times on my sites.
At this point, especially if you’re starting out, you’re probably thinking “if I don’t have traffic, how do I get the traffic that builds exposure and results in natural links and social signals?”
Fortunately I have one method you can use, and while it’s not as good as outreach link building, which is blogged about to death, I want to share a lesser publicized method that while on its own ain’t going to get you a million visits per month, but it can HELP you rank specific pages on your site.
My simple ranking method to HELP search engine rankings is as follows:
What I do is funnel as much traffic to very select pages on my site; to the pages i want to rank as high as possible.
The bigger your site and the more traffic you have, the more traffic you can funnel to more cornerstone articles.
But if you have less traffic, start funnelling to at least one page now.
To which pages should you funnel traffic?
The answer is fourfold. The more of the following your content meets, the better.
1. Interesting content
In order to successfully funnel traffic from one piece of content to another, the target content must be of interest to your audience. It must be something where a sizeable amount of your traffic, whether from social media, paid sources and/or organic search will be interested enough so that they click your funnel links on a regular basis and in decent volume.
2. Quality content
You want to send traffic to content your readers will love. This makes it easy to attract them to the content and it gives a good user experience so they share the content. Moreover, good content has a better chance of ranking because it stands a better chance of attracting links and social shares.
3. Large organic traffic potential
You don’t want to waste traffic on ranking content that doesn’t have big traffic potential. If you’re going to funnel your traffic to cornerstone content, you want that content to have the potential to pull in some serious traffic if/when it hits number one in Google.
Now I”m not talking it has to target keywords with millions in monthly searches. Of course you can go for that, but that’s a bit ambitious. I’m talking about content that can pull in 15,000 to 40,000 monthly visitors. My highest traffic piece of content, to which I funnel the most traffic from other pages on my site, gets about 20,000 visitors per month from Google search. That’s not huge, but it really meets the third criterion, which I set out next.
4. Has a high RPM (or potential for high rpm)
You don’t want send traffic to content that doesn’t earn you much money. Instead, you want to maximize the revenue from that traffic from email sign-ups, ad revenue and/or affiliate commissions.
Once you start getting some serious traffic, you want to test various revenue generators on that piece of content to earn as much as possible. Typically, a decently converting affiliate promotion will out-earn ad revenue, but sometimes some pieces of content can earn very well with just ads.
If, however, you can incorporate a great email sign up incentive and then earn on the backend, that’s a sound strategy too (assuming you can and do monetize the email newsletter).
How do you funnel traffic?
This is the fun part. I love dreaming up ways to funnel traffic to key high-RPM pages that I want to rank and that earn well.
It’s not rocket science. Here are a few things I do.
1. Links in top navigation bar
This works well. The more you get the links to stand out, the better. Perhaps add some custom CSS to really get the links to stand out.
2. Make your top navigation menu bar sticky
Sticky navigation bars garner far more clicks. You definitely want to make your navigation bar sticky if you want links in the navigation menu bar to get clicked.
3. Sidebar links
While not terribly effective, they help. If you make them sticky, that will work much better. Although I don’t make mine sticky because I prefer the high RPM sticky sidebar ads generate.
4. In-line “related” links
You can insert text only or image and text related grids or list of links in the middle of your other content linking to your cornerstone content.
5. Links at bottom of content
At the end of your content you can have “Related” links to your cornerstone content. I no longer use the “related posts” plugins or similar tool built into a theme. Instead, I create my own and include only those cornerstone posts that I want to direct as much traffic to as possible.
6. Promote those cornerstone articles in your email sequence
If you run an email newsletter, be sure to promote your cornerstone content in your email newsletter. That’s very easy, consistent and free traffic.
7. Recurring links on social media
Consistently promote your cornerstone content on social media. Keep the signals active and ongoing.
8. Footer links
Ad highly visible links in your footer.
9. Polls with redirecting links
I love polls and use them extensively. OpinionStage polling software (premium version) allows you to redirect poll-takers to another URL immediately upon completing the poll. While this is a bit sneaky and sometimes not the best user experience, if the cornerstone content fits well with the poll response, it can be a good method.
An example of a good poll could be:
What do you want to see/read next?
The poll answers are then a list of basic topics, which link to your various cornerstone articles.
10. In-content contextual links
An obvious way is to link from within your content naturally to your cornerstone articles with every opportunity possible.
I could do more, but I also seek to earn ad revenue and so I have ads in premium placements. If I used those premium placements to funnel traffic, I could funnel a lot more traffic fairly easily.
One simple tip to get direct plenty of traffic anywhere you want
You can create your own image ad and incorporate a big arrow in the ad. This works well. Just be careful so that the arrow does not point to any AdSense ads, which can be construed by AdSense as you directing visitors to click ads.
Does this guarantee rankings?
Sadly, no it doesn’t guarantee rankings. This alone will not shoot you to the top of the search engines. This is just one step you can incorporate in your overall SEO strategy.
All I’m saying is I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 4 of my 10 highest organic traffic posts are posts to which I funnel a great deal of traffic to every day. I’ve never done any link building to these 4 posts and yet they pull in a good deal of traffic for moderately competitive keywords (highly commercial too).
Interestingly, one page for which I rank quite well for and receives plenty of organic traffic and that targets a moderately competitive keyword has maybe 50 words of content and an embedded software tool. There’s almost no content, yet because I funnel at least 100 visitors to that content day in and day out, it ranks very well.
Should you funnel traffic to one or several pages?
You can funnel all traffic to one page or set up multiple funnels to several cornerstone articles. It all depends on how broad your site is.
I have several funnels set up based on my site’s categories. In other words, each category (more or less) has one cornerstone article above all else within the category to which I funnel the traffic.
Leverage the traffic you have as much as possible. Be deliberate, even if ads are your only monetization model. Traffic can be more than just a quick buck. It can be leveraged to give your site collateral benefits such as aid with rankings, build exposure via social shares and be funnelled to pages that earn far more.
Test revenue drivers
When you’re able to start funnelling consistent traffic to a specific post, start testing additional revenue models. Test many affiliate offers. Test email subscriber options. Test ad placements.
You want to absolutely maximize these cornerstone articles to which you funnel your hard-won traffic.
Continually improve your cornerstone content
As your cornerstone becomes more and more valuable, invest time every month to ensure it’s the best of the best. Improve it by updating it, editing it, adding more information… take the time to ensure it deserves top rankings and that it is something your visitors really like and will share as well.
I update my cornerstone content often as well as continually test and tweak monetization.
Be patient and have realistic expectations
Sending 200 visitors to a great article isn’t going to secure top rankings. This is a very long-term strategy. It may take time to get the initial traffic you need to funnel and then it takes time to rank any piece of content that targets reasonably decent keywords.
Again, this funnelling traffic method is not going the be-all and end-all in SEO. It’s just a one more thing that may help. If anything, if you have high earning cornerstone traffic, you’ll enjoy more revenue. If all works according to plan and you end up ranking that cornerstone content, then you end up getting plenty of traffic to a high-earning piece of content. It doesn’t take many of these to start earning meaningful revenue from a website.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.