I talk about this in the Social Media Is Bullshitpresentations, but … there’s some really bad advice out there concerning “content”. In fact, if you spend any time on Quora like I do, you’ll see that bad advice over and over again. Whenever someone asks, “How can I get traffic to my site?” The answer is almost inevitably, “Make good content”. Of course, nobody then does the logical thing and goes, “Well how do I do that?”
Go ahead. Look at the stuff Hubspot puts out, those answers on Quora, or any other site that allows people to give you advice on building traffic to your website. You will almost always see, “Make good content” appear with little elaboration.
This is because the statement is a lie.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should churn out bullshit. Sometimes us news-ish websites need to do that to pay the bills. Nobody likes doing it, but if you look at the business model of a site like The Verge, Business Insider, Gawker, Buzzfeed or The Huffington Post, it works quite well: Churn out bullshit to generate traffic. Then once you command more money from advertisers by upping your page views, you use that money to pay for better quality content. I like the stuff we put out here at SocialTimes, but I’m not going to lie to you, I see the model those sites are using as effective and worth replicating. At least until Google screws it up for everyone.
These websites prove that “making good content” to generate traffic is a lie because what they’re producing regularly is not good content. I know. I know. Good comedy (and content) is subject to interpretation, but I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who will tell you with a straight face that the stuff regularly churned out by some of those sites is any good. It’s the stuff that’s not churned out regularly, that the crap content pays for, that’s special and worth reading on those websites.
So, we need to stop answering the question of, “How do I get traffic for my website?” with “make good content”. It’s simply not true. You can get plenty of traffic with bullshit, and the worst part? That traffic will stick around if you keep feeding them that bullshit.
So HOW do you bring traffic to your website?
Since “good content” is so subjective, and “make good content” more so because there’s an implication there that you’re going to need to spend some time and money on it, what can you do to bring traffic to your website?
Well, I’m going to be totally honest with you: On a very limited budget, you’re mostly screwed. Not because you’re competing with an ocean of content, that’s just a dumb excuse people make to justify selling you some BS marketing and PR services. You’re mostly screwed because people who surf the Web are constantly in a state of being distracted and busy. That means the places they go for their information (and thus, how they find out about new stuff) is awfully limited. We like to think the Web and the Internet is this massive ocean of choices and fragmentation rules the day, but that’s simply not true. In fact, too much choice causes paralysis. That’s a post for another time though …
The challenge for you, and for us here at SocialTimes, and for anyone out there who makes something they want other people to see and experience, is that you have to be able to infiltrate those limited sources of information. And you have two choices on how to do that. You can buy your way in, which is pretty effective but also really expensive, or you can infiltrate those sources of information using any (free) means necessary.
This is incredibly tough, but it’s not impossible. So the answer to the question of, “HOW do you bring traffic to your website?” isn’t about the content. It’s been established that bad content works just as well as good content. The answer is to figure out what those limited pools of information are for your audience and find a way to get into them. There is always a way. You just have to find it.
(Photo Credit: xiquinhosilva on Flickr)