If you’re just starting out as a contractor, you likely already know the importance of creating a website. This website will play the role of advertising and detailing your services, making your rates and expertise known to a wider audience. It will also be a gateway of communication, giving your customers a chance to contact you for quotes, make requests, and leave reviews for other people to see.
However, merely having a website isn’t enough to help you tap the true potential of online marketing. Without sufficient traffic, your website won’t be able to reach new people, nor will it be of substantial value to your current customers. The question is, how can you generate this traffic if you don’t know where to start?
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Your website won’t generate traffic by itself. Instead, you’ll need the help of a marketing and/or advertising campaign to drive traffic to your site. There are two broad categories of strategies you can use to do this: inbound marketing, which relies on attracting traffic naturally to your site, and outbound marketing, which relies on external advertising and intentional attempts to persuade web visitors.
Inbound marketing strategies tend to be more cost-efficient, especially over the long-term, and are optimized for long-term functionality. They allow you to build your credibility, your authority, and perceptions of your expertise while you draw people into your site.
Most inbound marketing strategies work together, complementing and enhancing each other’s effectiveness. For example, consider the individual strategies within the field of search engine optimization (SEO):
- Onsite optimization. Onsite optimization requires you to make changes to your site that make it more visible in search engines, or ensure it shows up for a specific selection of keyword terms. For example, you might improve your mobile optimization and improve your site’s loading speed, while tweaking the layout and page titles of your site to make sure it appears in searches for the right demographics. In doing this, you’ll also improve your visitors’ onsite experience, so they return to visit you in the future.
- Content marketing. Content marketing involves writing onsite content like articles, whitepapers, or even eBooks. It’s an opportunity to increase your relevance for targeted keywords, but also provides value to your incoming visitors. More onsite content means more opportunities to rank, more calls-to-action (CTA) to achieve more conversions, and more interested returning visitors, all of which are beneficial. And because every post you write is permanent, the benefits keep stacking up.
- Link building. Every SEO strategy needs to have an expert link building component. Link building is the process of using offsite content to place links pointing back to your site, and it’s one of the most valuable steps you can take to earn more traffic. Not only will the links you create provide a direct stream of referral traffic, but they’ll also boost your domain authority, which in turn will increase your rankings in search engines, providing you more organic traffic as well.
- Social media marketing. Social media marketing can’t increase your search rankings directly, but can help you popularize your onsite content, which in turn can earn you more links. It’s also a good way to get involved with a community, building your audience and customer loyalty in the process. And since it’s free to create and use an account, it’s an even more popular choice.
It takes up to several months to start seeing results from these strategies working together, but the low costs, low barrier to entry, and unlimited growth potential make them much more powerful.
Then there are outbound strategies. These tactics usually rely on some kind of external advertising. In the modern digital world, that often means a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, where you’ll use a platform like Google or Facebook to place ads, paying only for the people who click on them to get to a landing page on your site.
Ad-based strategies tend to be more expensive, especially over the long term, but can be effective for getting you some quick results. Assuming you’re able to convert them (i.e., turn them into customers), or keep them coming back for more, it can help you secure an initial customer base if you’re struggling.
Making the Investment
Unfortunately, none of these strategies are free. Even if you choose to learn the fundamentals of SEO and start writing content for your own site, you’ll still be making an investment of time. There’s no way to get more traffic to your site without spending time and money, but most of the strategies listed in this article are worth that investment. Only with traffic improvements will you be able to earn more leads, attract new customers, and improve relationships with your existing customer base.