As vast and far reaching as Google’s ad network is I’ve decided to commit more time and energy to learning the ins and outs of generating traffic beyond Google, and in large part beyond search engines in general.
Learning the ins and outs of Google’s content network and improving the results one can achieve with Adwords are still important. But my gut feeling is that advertisers and marketers who, in the coming years, learn to generate and profit from traffic outside of Google’s domain are going to be more successful than those who do not.
Just like Microsoft in its early days, Google has experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years. However, there’s a growing discontent building, at least in the web marketing industry, with the power Google nowÂ wields and its ability to completely kill off, shut down and pretty much put out of business those marketers who it deems as not fitting its interests.
Any time a person, company or country rises to a place of dominance, detractors spring up; it’s a given. People have been crying foul for some time about Google’s business practices and its philosophy of doing no evil isÂ admittedlyÂ suspect (I mean why not focus on “doing good” instead?). Detractors and theÂ doubtfulÂ aside (of which I am one…I mean I use a lot of Google’s services and only recently realized that if they closed my account on a whim, it would be hugely detrimental to my business) it just makes sense to diversify your traffic sources if you have the means to do so.
So what does that look like?
For one, there are only three ways of getting traffic to a website that I know of:
- Direct type ins, where people type in your domain name into their browsers. (Typically 10-15% of a sites traffic coming from direct type ins would not be uncommon. In special cases, where a marketer owns a domain such as fish.com or money.com, direct type ins might be the sole means of traffic. How powerful!)
- Paid advertising: Pay-Per-Click is by and far the method of paid advertising most of us are familiar with. This includes banner advertising and the increasingly popular interactive ads we see on our favorite news sites.
- Traffic from links: this includes links from Google. Yes, Google does link to your site remember? It links to you in its search results! We don’t tend to think of traffic from search engines like this, we tend to classify it as it’s own type of traffic: search traffic (and links from other websites are generally known as referrals). But really, traffic from search engines boils down to getting traffic from links.
To simplify things even further, I’ll go as far as saying there are only two ways to get people to a website:
You can pay for it or you can work (hard) for it. Plain and simple.
Search engines continue to play a major role in directing traffic to websites for the time being. Social media and social networks are also rapidly growing in their influence and ability to drive targeted traffic to sites. Then there’s the opportunity the mobile web presents.
For my purposes here though, my primary interest is in buying traffic.
Some things I will be looking at:
- Ad networks other than those offered by Google, Yahoo and Bing
- Link brokers
- Affiliate networks
- And others
Really I’m just getting started in my research and already I’ve been digging up all sorts of opportunities to drive traffic, leads and sales by other means than though Google.
The web is a big place. Moving ahead into 2010, keep your eyes open for new ways of bringing people to your site and generating the results you’re after. There’s a ton of opportunity out there.