Here's my take on getting web traffic. Note that I'm NOT an expert; I'm like an amateur golfer who knows the basics.
Traffic methods boil down to two things:
(1) Promoting your lenses to people DIRECTLY, by using social methods such as Facebook, Twitter, bookmarking sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, forum signatures in communities where you're active (this is a good thing to do), or Squidoo directories like Lensroll.com or Squidom (I don't use these, but they work for some people). Tips to keep in mind:
- Observe the rules of social sites, and don't post in the wrong places or people will dismiss you as a spammer.
- Tell people exactly what your lens is about. Don't say "visit my lens!" EVERYONE wants you to visit their lens/website/thing. Be specific. Tell what they'll get out of it. ("An easy, fast way to peel garlic!")
- Get sincerely involved, whether it's in SquidU, a Squidoo blogging community like SquidLog, or a community like Facebook or Reddit. Don't expect visitors/fans/critique from a community if you don't contribute.
- Comments and visiting other people's lenses are ways to get noticed on Squidoo -- and no, that doesn't mean spamming guestbooks with links. Just get involved. People pay attention to you if you pay attention them. Plus, the more lenses you visit, the more you'll learn what good lenses look like.
- Use your email signature, user profile on other websites, and/or a business card to link to your lensmaster profile, or to your lensography (a lens showcasing some or all of your lenses) as a gateway to your lenses.
- Learn in-house ways to attract people interested in your topic. For instance, on Twitter, people use hashtags, words starting with #, to help users find Tweets related to their interests. When sharing links to your lenses, include #squidoo, and if the lens is on, say, knitting patterns, include #knitting as well!
- Every post, lens, and comment you make builds your online reputation, and can attract or repulse visitors.
Take-away lesson: For social promotion of lenses, you're talking to PEOPLE. Think about what attracts or annoys people. Remember the Golden Rule.
(2) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - creating and writing webpages so that search engines send them traffic.
SEO is an entire industry, and different SEO experts have different advice and contradict each other. But here's the four basic steps:
(a) Brainstorm a keyword (usually, a phrase) many people search that's related to your topic. Web searches tend to be specific. People search to find out "what actors have played James Bond?" for example, not "who are some famous celebrities?"
Tools for finding out what people search for: Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, Google Insights
Personally, I shoot for at least several hundred searches a month. Many people target more than 1000.
(b) Scout the competition for a keyword. If there are millions of pages on "James Bond," getting a lens on page 1 of Google for "James Bond" is unlikely. Avoid overwhelming odds by targeting "long tail" (more specific) searches like "James Bond Sean Connery".
There are tools for checking competition, but you can do it right in Google. Search for these:
allintitle:your keyword or phrase
allinurl:your keyword or phrase
site:www.squidoo.com your keyword or phrase
This gives you a rough idea of how many webpages are targeting your search. I shoot for competition with less than 100 webpages, and less than 10 on Squidoo.
(c) USE that keyword phrase in your lens URL (www.squidoo.com/your-lens-title), in the lens title, in 1-2 module headers (vary the phrase), in the clickable text of a link, in the alt name of a graphic somewhere on the lens, and in a few places in the body text of your lens. On-page optimization tells search engines what your page is about, and can boost your page's standings in search results for those words and phrases.
"Related" keywords Tip: When brainstorming your keywords, notice related phrases and synonyms you *didn't* pick that might also fit. Use them if and when they flow smoothly in your writing. Related terms can not only boost your page's relevance for the main term, but can also pick up supplemental traffic for these terms.
(d) Build backlinks. These are links pointing to your pages, which help people and search engines find them. Search engines also consider some links as promising indicators when trying to decide how high to list pages in search results. I don't do as much backlink building as most people who promote SEO, but I recommend the following:
- Claim AUTHORSHIP (here's how) of your Squidoo or other published articles. Not only does this build automatic links straight from Google to ALL your lenses, but also, if Google likes your content, it'll put your photo next to your lenses in search results. That photo helps make them stand out and draw more clicks!
- Get links from other parts of Squidoo to your lenses by filling in Squidoo Categories and Squidoo tags. (For tags, get SquidUtils.com's workshop add-on, which will color-code tags used by other lenses on Squidoo green. You want your tags to be shared by other, related lenses, because tags help Squidoo fill in the "Related lenses" box in the sidebar of published lenses.).
- If you've got a website or blog that's related to the topics of your lenses, link from that blog to your lenses in the same niche when and where it makes sense (i.e. the lens is related to something you're talking about. Notice how I linked to related pages in this post...same idea.)
- Many people recommend links from social sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I consider these good for social promotion (see above), but social media links don't have much pull with search engines unless they're posted by Very Important People (if the Dalai Lama links to your page on world peace, Google will be impressed and rank your page accordingly), or by LOTS of people (i.e., when something goes viral).
- Log into SquidUtils.com once, and your lenses will automatically be listed by their primary tag.
- Many Squids find luck publishing short, original, related articles on other sites (Hubpages, Zujava, Wizzley, eg.) that link back to your lens. Be careful to observe that site's rules on how many self-promotional links you can have, however: they want you using their site, not just exploiting their site for backlinks.
- I do NOT recommend dropping links on other people's blogs (which is rude) or Squidoo guestbooks (which can get you banned as a spammer).
- The Holy Grail of linkbuilding is to earn links from pages relevant to your topic just by having amazing, useful content that people want to link to and share with their friends. This is HARD. Pay attention to what kinds of pages you and your frineds link to and share, and try to figure out what it was that made you or them want to share it. Or, to put it differently, focus on "what's in it for them?"
- Never plant a link somewhere just for search engines. The litmus test is: "would readers of page X be interested in page Y?" If the answer is yes, link away!
My number one tip: BE SPECIFIC. Search engines only know what you're talking about if you spell it out. Don't just refer to "Michael." Make sure you call him Michael Jackson a few times. This is the opposite of poetry, where you may suggest things ("a wing on the water" for "ship") without naming them directly.
My number two tip: Once you start getting some traffic to your lenses, click "stats" under each of those lenses, click the "Traffic" tab, change the timespan from "week" to the longest span Squidoo gives us, and look at the Keywords column. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into Google or other search engines that bring them to your lens. These search phrases give you valuable insights into what kinds of things your readers want to know, buy, or see. The more you know that, the more you can improve pages to satisfy your visitors and attract other visitors like them!
Want more Squidoo traffic tips? I recommend Squidoo Step By Step, a free ebook put together by AJ and several other experienced lensmasters to help newbies.
Take everything you read and learn, including this post, with a grain of salt. Good luck!