Many will think SEO is the only free way to drive traffic to the website. But if you are in a competitive niche, SEO can be complicated, and it might take 4-12 months to see any results. That’s why small businesses must be creative while searching for sources to increase website traffic fast. Fortunately, there are a lot of methods that do the job.
We asked eCommerce business owners and experts how to get free traffic for your website and collected the best ideas. So let’s take a look!
1. Ask for reviews
Reviews provide trust to your store, help with SEO, and even become a source for perfectly targeted traffic. For example, 91% of customers check reviews before making a purchase. So clearly, feedback on popular review platforms can not only bring traffic to your website but real customers to your business.
“To speed up the process, you can set up an email campaign to encourage customers to leave reviews or offer incentives like 10% of your next purchase.” – recommends James Castledine, SEO Specialist at WasteOnline.
Each industry has its own trusted review platforms. For instance, Shaunak Amin, the Co-founder, and CEO of SnackMagic, shares his experience in software marketing:
“We send satisfied customers to our G2 reviews page, an industry standard for software companies to collect reviews and prospects to compare and contrast products/services. The reviews are all credible and honest, and interested candidates will come across these reviews when searching Google.”
David Zimmerman from Curious Ants says that you should monitor your brand mentions. Knowing what people are saying about your business can be useful. It gives you a chance to discover any unresolved issues with customers and to build successful relationships.
“Review the internet and see how other websites talk about your business. This has several benefits. For one, if they are talking about your business, maybe they will convert that mention into a link- and links will help your SEO efforts.
If something has gone wrong, maybe you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy one by fixing the problem they encountered. In this way, you can make sure, if someone is reviewing your business before making a purchase, at least they encounter a positive experience.”
2. List your store on directories
Business directories are an excellent source to increase credibility and drive traffic to your website.
When choosing directories to list your business in, examine its credibility and relevance to your business. Among the most popular and worthy web directories are:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
Google My Business (GMB) is probably the best place to start. Many business owners highly recommend GMB because it is the easiest way to get discovered through Google. GMB also shows your company’s profile on Google maps ‒ a big boost for customers who search for shops via maps.
“Companies who do complete their Google Business profile see a 7x increase in organic traffic compared to those who don’t,” – says Jameson Rodgers, the cofounder of CBDfx.
Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at Moriarty’s Gem Art, says that thanks to GMB, they “get a good amount of traffic locally, even from 50+ miles away for some of the unique items we talk about. We added UTM tracking to our links to see exactly how much traffic is coming to our site. It was free to set up and only took about five days to be verified. Every eCommerce business, no matter if you are listing your address or not, should be submitting their business here.”
Manish Patel, the Founder of Brandlists, also recommends considering niche shopping directories to get traffic. He mentions Instya as an excellent example of an alternative eCommerce search engine. Users often search alternative shopping sites, and this niche directory receives a good amount of traffic for such queries.
Faizan Fahim, a Content Marketer from ServerGuy, advises:
“Find the local and national directories in your niche and list your website on them. Most of them are freely available and can send tons of relevant traffic to your store”.
3. Use Google Shopping Feed
The Google Product Feed is an extension to create product feeds for the Google Merchant Center. It shows products on Google recommendations whether they are promoted or not. In 2020 this feature became free to support retailers during challenging times.
Manish Patel, Founder of Brandlists, describes it this way:
“In April 2020, Google resumed offering free shopping feed submissions for merchants. The eCommerce store owners need to submit their product data feed through google’s merchant center and optimize their listing. This can be the most reliable and sustainable traffic source as millions of people use google shopping. This is currently only available in the USA, though.
Just like Google shopping, Bing shopping is also a similar option, although not as big as Google.”
This method also worked for Gatis Viskers, the founder of Ambition Digital:
“We generated a product feed and uploaded it to the Merchant Center. Google then validates the feed, and if you’re approved, your products have a good chance of appearing in the Google Shopping feed.
4. Keep your customers coming back with email marketing
Attracting new customers may be five times more expensive than keeping existing ones, so cherish your current clientele. Create a list of these customers and hold their attention, so they return to your website again and again.
How can you create a valuable email marketing list?
Gatis Viskers, the founder of Ambition Digital, used this strategy:
“We used the old but gold tactic of ‘GET 10% OFF when you sign up to our mailing list.’ You can fully automate this process, so it’s worth doing for any eCommerce website. The main reason for this is that email marketing has the highest conversion rate out of any marketing channel”.
Chris Muktar, the founder of WikiJob.co.uk, says that regular clients are your finest traffic source because they have previously spent money in your store. He says you should:
- “ask for referrals in exchange for discounts or vouchers.
- Offer your visitors to subscribe to your email and establish an email list.
- Add to your website pop-ups with promotions in return for email addresses. These pop-ups are digital flyers and voucher discounts that appear when visitors arrive and exit your site”.
How to keep your subscribers engaged?
Regular emails can easily make people annoyed, so they unsubscribe. To avoid this, you must provide some value. For example, Tihana Drumev, the Senior Content Marketing Executive at Best Response Media, recommends sending:
- “Discount newsletters. Writing around a special offer or a discount usually does the trick. It is a free traffic source as well.
- Novelty newsletters. Your email subscribers are curious about what’s new with you.
- Educational newsletters. If you, for example, sell kitchen knives online, an educational newsletter about how to sharpen them (with additional info on the blog) can also increase traffic.”
5. Participate in Facebook groups
Facebook is a powerful tool to promote your business and find potential customers. And no‒paid ads are NOT the only way to spread the word about yourself there. Facebook Groups are a perfect free source for targeted traffic.
Jason McMahon, Digital Strategist of Bambrick, recommends “joining Facebook groups in your niche. If none of these Facebook groups exist, you can start your own and manage this community.
When everything is done correctly, you will notice consistent traffic to your online business from your Facebook page and group. The more followers you have, the more traffic you may send to your online store.”
Mr. McMahon says that “your content must be written in such a way that potential customers will feel forced to act.” This is the secret sauce capable of turning followers into paying clients.
6. Create Pinterest boards
Pinterest plays a vital role in shopping decisions. It is also a perfect place for small eCommerce businesses because people do not search for specific brands on Pinterest ‒ they search for inspiration and new things to try. As a result, 77% of weekly Pinners discover new brands on the platform, and your store can be one of them.
Another reason why Pinterest is so good for eCommerce is that it is the most searchable social network. When customers Google products, Pinterest is the only social media platform that will appear in search results. As Delano Young, Founder of BETASPACE1, says:
“You don’t need followers on Pinterest to increase brand awareness or get page views. Pinterest is a search engine, so your pins are searchable”.
In Young’s opinion, the best ways to get traffic from Pinterest are to:
- “Create brand-related boards,
- Repin high-quality pins,
- Create eye-catching pins.”
Eddie from The Pet Savvy also recommends making relevant pins with a link to a specific article.
7. Use TikTok
TikTok is a hot topic right now, and its users are very active and impressionable. The platform is more eCommerce-friendly every day, and it is adding features for in-app shopping.
Yeelen Knegtering, CEO and Cofounder of Klippa, says that “if you are selling an item online, it’s time to get creative with Tiktok.
- Use your channel to create incredible videos that bring people in and take advantage of the latest trends.
- You can also send samples to popular Tiktokers and see if they will share something reviewing or using the item.
- Collaborate with other TikTok users, create your great videos, and more. It’s a very hot platform right now, so give it your best shot!”
Stefan Chekanov, CEO of Brosix, recommends focusing on hashtags to utilize the platform efficiently:
“People will naturally navigate through some of the common keywords, and you could be the beneficiary of some good luck! So take a look at the most popular hashtags and use them in some of your recent posts.”
Unlike Twitter and Instagram, TikTok shows viral videos whether people are following the channel or not. This means you can get great exposure and interact with customers.
8. Shoot videos for YouTube
Rahul Mohanachandran, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Kasera, recommends posting “how-to” videos related to your products. “Publishing them with branded intro and outro and with a link to your website in the description can generate free traffic. This could increase over time, and keeping the video up to date can not only result in establishing yourself as a trusted source but also be a great way to drive free traffic to your website”.
Youtube is also a great place for product reviews. Anuja Shah, SEO Executive at EcomVA, encourages posting detailed video reviews to generate positive word-of-mouth chatter.
Another reason to consider YouTube is that the company plans to add direct purchases on the platform. They tested this innovation, giving several creators the ability to add up to 12 products in the carousel below their video.
9. Take advantage of affiliate marketing
Wouldn’t it be great if you had to pay only for visitors who became customers? This is what affiliate marketing is about. People send you free traffic, and you pay only for customers who buy something.
Janis Thies, CEO at SEOlutions, considers affiliate marketing powerful due to the following reasons:
- “The affiliates serve as your ambassadors for your product.
- The affiliates do the marketing, blogging, and SEO.
- The affiliates drive traffic to your website.
They can drive traffic to your site again and again, but you never pay for it unless a sale is made.”
Miranda, Founder of VinPit, explains that “all you have to do to get started is to integrate an affiliate marketing app with your platforms:
- You create a commission-based program
- Affiliates sign up for an account with your program
- They market your landing page or an online store – this is how you GET FREE TRAFFIC
- If their referral makes a purchase, you give them a commission.”
A commission is not the only incentive you can use to get others to send you potential clients. As Alex Claro, VPN Analyst at CreditDonkey, says, “the incentive might be in the form of points that customers can redeem for items in your store.”
Available affiliate programs cover a wide array of products and platforms, and there are specialized ones. For instance, there are unique affiliate solutions that give opportunities to Shopify store owners.
“Shopify powers my store, and there are apps you can add to your store, such as Carro. They allow others to cross-sell your products on their e-commerce sites. Imagine multiplying your sales force to new audiences; you would not be able to attract alone. I highly recommend any Shopify store owner to add Carro affiliate marketing to their set of apps!” – says Tracey Roulhac, business owner of Sensual Fashion Boutique.
10. Find influencers who match perfectly
Collaborating with well-known people, aka influencers, can increase brand awareness and drive targeted traffic to your website. To achieve this, you need to find the right influencers and provide relevant offers to them and their followers.
The first thing to remember is that marketing is a partnership, which means all parties involved must benefit. Monetary rewards are the first benefits that come to mind, but they are not the only thing you can offer. Eric Kaye, the Founder and Chief Evangelist of Kayezen Vector, thinks that “offering product samples or exchanging backlinks often suffice to be mutually beneficial.”
Also, make sure the influencers will have something of real value to offer their audience. Daniela Sawyer, Founder & Business Development Strategist at FindPeopleFast, is sure that “when influencers post discount codes, reviews, or giveaways, you are thumping into their audience to drive traffic to your website.”
It can be daunting to approach celebrities or people with millions of followers. What’s more, their luxurious lifestyles may not relate to your target audience. So it would be best if, instead, you started with influencers who have smaller fan bases but whose values comply with your brand. You might even find someone in your existing clientele.
When sending your brand message through an influencer’s channel, remember that “it’s important to craft your message carefully, so you’re not coming across as inauthentic. You want to show other audiences how your product or service has provided value for the person you’re collaborating with.” – says Carlos Barros, Marketing Director at Epos Now.
11. Write guest posts
Writing for other companies helps spread the word about your business just like an influencer does. In addition, there are blogs that your potential clients read, and you can be on some of them for free.
“When done right, guest blogging can bring you so many benefits both in the short-term as well as in the long run. Here is why we do it at Greenice:
- sharing our knowledge and experience helps us build expertise and authority in our niche.
- Posting on popular platforms brings us referral traffic.
- our guest posts link back to our website, which is invaluable for SEO.” – says Kateryna Reshetilo, Head of Marketing at Greenice
If you don’t know where to start, Darshan Somashekar, Founder & CEO at Freecell-Challenge, encourages companies to “make a list of the top ten eCommerce or blogging sites in your niche. Find a topic that they haven’t covered yet, but their competitors did.” He also says it’s essential to make sure the platform you are reaching out to has your target audience or, at the very least, a high domain authority. It will ensure that you reap the rewards of your efforts.
12. Create a referral program
92% of customers trust recommendations from their friends and families more than advertisements. Referral programs are an excellent marketing tactic. Reward your existing customers when they recommend your platform to others.
“A referral program allows you to offer an incentive (coupon, gift card, cash) to your customers in return for them inviting their friends/family to check out your product/sign up to your email list/sign you up for a free trial, etc.
And aside from the fact that it is free traffic, referrals are also more likely to become loyal, paying customers, so business owners should implement a referral program in their business.” – says Ori BenShalom, Founder of Selfmade.Today.
In addition, social media can be a great instrument for referral programs.
“If you can get people to refer their friends from other social networks on Facebook or Instagram, there will be an increase in traffic coming towards your site. It’s just as simple as asking them nicely with some incentive; if successful enough times, those new visitors might become lifelong customers due to the loyalty factor brought about by being referred through word-of-mouth marketing.” – says Daniel Veiga, the founder of Danny Veiga Marketing dannyveiga.com.
13. Add comments to forums (Quora and Reddit + Chinese forums)
Sharing your knowledge with the world is a great way to get free website traffic. You can participate in discussions on forums or answer questions on topics related to your products. Find platforms that are popular with your target audience.
Erin Zadoorian, the CEO and Executive Editor at Ministry of Hemp looks for questions that he knows the answers to, then answers to the best of his ability. “When it looks like you know a lot about what you’re saying, people are bound to check you out. This will then lead them to your website, and when they see that you’re the real thing, they’ll regularly visit your website to know more about your niche.”
Joel A. Almazar, the Administrative Assistant at Upgrow, recommends that people “start by removing the queries that aren’t popular and concentrating on the ones that have the potential to bring visitors to your website. These folks will be notified once you’ve written and posted your response – either via email, notification, or some other method.
Your Quora answer should be designed to be read on the go. To keep your readers’ attention, avoid long paragraphs and instead rely on visuals.”
Nikolay Krastev, the SEO Specialist at Agile Digital Agency, mentions useful tricks for this platform:
“Provide answers that link to your website and recommend your product as an option to your target audience by finding questions that appeal to them. A question could also be submitted anonymously, and a response provided.”
Chris Zacher, the Content marketing strategist at Intergrowth, finds Reddit very helpful:
“There’s a Reddit community for every niche. Find the one related to your niche and join the conversation. You don’t even have to link to your website in your actual Reddit posts — overt self-promotion is discouraged. Instead, include your link in your profile. As long as you add value to the conversations, you’ll find that people check out your profile and make their way to your website.”
If you are selling worldwide, you may consider not only international forums but also country-specific ones. For example, here is what Billy Chan, Founder of Drone Last, does to attract an Asian audience:
“One trick I often use is to create a thread on prominent Chinese online forums and start a Q&A session.” He says that you don’t even need to know the language; Google Translate will suffice.
“People over there are generally friendly to westerners and are eager to communicate with you in English because they want to learn the language. Refer to your specific website if people ask relevant questions that you think would be better answered with a whole article. There is no penalty in all popular online forums as long as you do not promote your site in the early stages of the discussion.
Here are some forums I recommend:
Hong Kong: https://lihkg.com/
China (Accessing Chinese websites is very slow): http://www.tianya.cn/” – says Billy Chan.
14. Participate in podcasts
Podcasts can give you access to a base of listeners who may turn into buyers. Share your stories, knowledge, experience, and opinions; if you are interesting enough, people will want to know more and go to your website.
Ray Blakney, the CEO, and cofounder of Live Lingua says:
“I attract free traffic by being a guest on podcasts in my business niche, as this initiative places me right in front of an audience of thousands, tens of thousands, or even more listeners who are in my consumer target market. I capitalize on this by sharing insight on my business offerings and driving traffic to my website.”
Moreover, most podcasts are not confined to a single channel; the audio is often distributed across different media. The great thing is that you can get backlinks from each of those channels.
Jeff Neal, the engagement officer for The Critter Depot, actively pursues podcasts and requests to be a guest on different shows. “Generally, these shows will add our website into the show notes and often have a live feed on their YouTube channels, which then links back to our YouTube channel as well. So overall, it has helped get exposure to similar markets. But it’s also brought us good backlinks for our site because the host generally adds a link of our site into their show notes.
How to apply it to your business
It is always a struggle to attract more customers, especially when you have minimal resources. Luckily, there are many free strategies for smart hustlers out there. Many successful entrepreneurs have given their advice on how to drive free traffic to your website. We hope you found something useful for you.
It all comes down to placing yourself where your customers already are. List your business on web directories and review websites, etc. Popularize your store with social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Give valuable advice on podcasts, popular blogs, and forums like Quora and Reddit.
Make modern technology part of your business strategy, and you will see the growth.