Grow your traffic by over 300% for FREE within 3 months

stickyIf you build your traffic to say at least 200 visitors per day for example which is a very achievable target for any new website then the next step would be to watch that grow rapidly if you spend time implementing strategy to make your website sticky, yes you may have read that term many many times but taking the time out to analyse your website and look at your numbers tells you whether your doing it correctly or not.

Firstly check your new versus repeat visitor numbers, growing your repeat visitor numbers not only helps waterproof you from any sudden ranking drops by Google, it also lets you grow rapidly using your existing user base.

I would aim for somewhere in the high 20’s, even for a well monetised website if you do a good job you should be looking for at least 20% returning visitor percentage. For my tattoo website it is 22.25% and I noticed from Al’s post yesterday his is around 25% for his gadget site.

GrowthIf you can make 20% of your visitors return then after a week of getting 200 visitors per day you could be looking at an extra 280 visitors in week 2 for FREE! Extrapolate that through 3 months and you could go from 200 visitors per day to 640  just using the same new 200 visitors per day that arrive to your site and retaining 40 of them.

At the start refraining from using adsense and instant monetisation is important as that very quickly takes your new visitor off site when you need to be building a good user base, most of the methods are very simple but can have a huge influence over your traffic numbers over a short period.

To demonstrate we are talking about retaining 40 visitors per day from 200 visitors being fresh traffic so basically adding 280 visitors per week to your current stats.
Week 1 1400
Week 2 1680
Week 3 1960
Week 4 2240
.
.
.
Week 12 = 4480 visitors – that’s going from 200 per day to 640 per day in 3 months! 
Apply that to a larger website and it like going from 1000 visitors per day to 3400 per day, therefore probably one of the most important jobs to focus on and it is free for the most part.

Things that can make a difference in my experience

  • Having an ‘Add to favourites’ link or button, make it prominent and have it throughout your website, traffic arrives into all your pages not just your homepage, have it in the navigation and at the end of ALL articles or pages, don’t make people look for it.
  • Reduce monetisation like adsense while you build the userbase up
  • Have a Favicon, quick and easy to add and lets the bookmark stand out in a browsers favourite list potentially alerting bored users to the bookmark and returning.
  • Get user involvement, if visitors add comments, images, text or suggestions they are far more likely to return to see how other visitors feel, this can be rating images, voting, polls, comments, suggestions and competitions.
  • Have a mailing list if applicable, a mailing list is a great way to alert previous users of new changes and additions thus surging returning users.
  • Add a forum, again if you feel it will work a forum offers a great incentive for users to return.
  • Empower your visitors, letting visitors decide in certain aspects of how your website works empowers them and offers a great incentive for them to enjoy your website and return so try and let them decide as much as possible how they experience your site, this may be allowing registered users the ability to affect ads, colour schemes, navigation etc
  • RSS feeds allow visitors to subscribe to the latest content from your website but if you run a blog do not presume your readership will all be tech savy, guide your visitors through the process.
  • Most importantly, give them what they are looking for! Trickery and misinformation is great maybe for short term gain but if your here for the long haul and want that one website to do well over a long period of time then give users what they are looking for, at the very least offer a certain amount for free and offer subscription paid services for more content & features.

Aside from forum based websites I think most website showing around 20%-30%  repeat traffic numbers would be doing a good job of encouraging return visits and in turn building a safer future from the source of current traffic, any less than that and I’d consider it high on the todo list.

What is your returning visitor percentage?
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About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Thanks Scott. You saved me some research time. I checked over the average for my site and it was at 5% returning a few months ago for me and it’s creeping up to about 10% now steadily over the last few months.

    Time to get to work I think 🙂

    • 10% is good going Matthew, I guess it is a case of whether you want to take a bit of a hit on things like adsense early on and go for building a userbase more, its easy for me to say this and that but when I started my tattoo site there was no adsense so back then it was easier to grow a userbase up without the dangerous lure of quick cash from CPC taking new visitors away.

      • Adsense earnings are just above $100/month and have been up at $315 for a month, so I can afford to drop some of the ads for a month or 2 to experiment a little and see what happens with the numbers.

        Ive been trialing Kontera ads for the last 30 days and Im not too impressed with performance of them. I am going to drop them for now and see if anything increases that way.

  2. Just wanted to tell you guys how much I enjoy reading your blog. You write interesting, educational, and encouraging posts. It’s the most informative, no BS, no filler blog I yet came across. Great job guys, please keep it up.

    As for my site I have a 12.5% return rate and growing (very slowly). In addition to the things you list I had moderate success with a “Tell a friend” link. The biggest success came from giving away something useful for free. In my case that was watermarked wallpapers.

    So far RSS has been the least successful for me. Despite explaining about it and encouraging my newsletter subscribers to use it. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before more people will learn about RSS benefits and start using it.

    • Thanks Dawid very much for the comment I am glad you enjoy the blog, I have to say your artwork is awesome, beatiful work, I love those sci-fi images you created, are you not tempted to release a couple of them as desktop backgrounds as that would be good publicity if it had your web address on, also there is a lack of qualty for multi monitor backgrounds. Tell a friend is a great tool, one that I forgot on that list but have used so nice catch there.

  3. Wow, good analysis the kind of information I was looking for past several days. My blog itjobsdelhi.blogspot.com gets around 300 page clicks per day and it has been almost a month since I have launched the blog.

    I will be implementing the “tips” given to increase the traffic.

    Tushar

    http://itjobsdelhi.blogspot.com

  4. I have over 40% return visitors this month according to Google analytics. Perhaps because I have a specialized Canadian personal finance blog.

    Great article BTW.

    FT

    • That is an immensly loyal following you have built up there FT, congrats on your blog it looks very interesting indeed and am sure it in itself will add value to your net worth.

      • It is a good amount of return visitors. I see something similar on a forum that I own, but thats more understandable with the interactivity that a forum provides.

  5. 32% for my site over the last 2 months are returning but the overall visitor numbers aren’t too high. o be honest I haven’t done a great deal of promotion for it yet.

    Maybe that can be one of your next posts, simple site promotion, or something like that.

  6. I completely agree with your statement on the importance of repeat visitors. These are the type of visitors your site relies on – if your repeat visitor figures are low, you are doing something wrong!

  7. Yeah definately something to think about, I range from 8% to 14%. Add to favourites is a good tip. I also think that there is room for a forum in the future. I’ve heard that with forums it’s best to have advertising on from the start so that people get used to it and don’t complain/leave when you suddenly introduce adverts, do you agree with this line of thinking?

    • That is a concern Deano, people can get very used to ‘their experience’ of using a forum which is a community and regular visit so some people feel like you have walked into their living room and moved their furniture about if you suddenly change the layout or ad adverts. What you can do is show adverts for non-members and don’t show them to your registered members or show less ads to members.

      • That’s exactly the route I took with my digital photography forum, only guest users see ads in the forum area.

        Although it’s not generating a lot in the way of revenue right now, keeping ads away from registered users gives people an incentive to join and makes them think that you are at least giving them some consideration.

  8. I noticed your SMM site doesn’t have a favicon yet but assume that’s being worked on since it’s new and all your other ones do.
    Created a quick SMM HERE to see what it’d look like.

    Regarding “Empower your visitors” point:
    I often find my favorite sits I visit have a “Top 10 or more” list of what I’m looking for broken down by day/week/month/year/all time so I can quickly checkout the most viewed, downloaded, rated, ect.. and that feature is paramount for wanting to return. It’s especially vital to have these kind of options if the site is updated frequently since most people don’t want to sort though tons of material to find the most interesting bits.

    I’d love to see more blogs/sites implement this i.e. something like top viewed posts this week/month type of deal to more quickly get to the good stuff.

    I’ve been slammed for the last two weeks with work and am at 100+ posts to read on CG and wish there was a way to get to the good stuff without having to read it all.

    Hard bookmarks stored on the computer are so last century and using Social Bookmarks ‘Add to’ footer links for blogs is the best way to make sure people remember and online bookmark your page along with the “hard” bookmark if you must 😛

    I’ve used online bookmarks for over 7 years now and have over 3000 links, most of them tagged, and accessible on any computer.

    Lastly but very important blogging/updating sites takes time and is often very repetitive and I have been using a macro program called Perfect Keyboard for about 6 years now (free 30 day trial but only costs $19.95) and it has proved invaluable in speeding up any repetitive task like entering code (how I place all my links in posts for example and highly recommend it.

    • It does have a favicon tecwzrd but only works in FF for me not IE {shrug} top 10 lists are a great idea for previous visitors to make sure they can get the new/changed or best info on their return without having to start afresh!

  9. Now I must do something wrong because what i run is a forum… This month so far I am at 16.34% Returning Visitors. We are still fairly young and only get about 150 uniques a day. I know I am not loosing visitors to ypn because the ctr is at about .03% and 1.12% with kontera. Members dont see any ads at all… I have favicons in all threads. I guess i will put a bookmark this site in the nav bar 😀 hope that helps out a little.

    • Worth adding James, as long as the traffic arriving to you is targetted and applicable then ‘I feel’ you need to aim for 20% personally, either way its a very healthy aspect to concentrate on, always try and ask your visitors what you can do to improve as well.

      • Thanks scott for the help. I will work on getting that up to 20%…. I was going over my previous months the last 8 and it has gone from 10% to 16% so something is going right. Hopefully i can make that final push for another 4% :D. Great blog here and I read it everyday! Thanks for the great resource.

  10. Good article! Mine is around 15-30% on any given day. Keep in mind for smaller sites that may get some sort of big link day (for example from Digg) it’s going to drastically affect their daily and monthly returning visitor percentages.

    • True Dave but an overall general percentage in the high teens/ early twenties would seem a positive return and show your doing something right.

  11. Is that 20% return rate per week or per month? (I normally think of return rates in terms of months.) The difference between the two is significant.

    After four weeks, here’s what the increase in visitors would look like for each:

    By Week – 1,680 (as in your numbers)
    By Month – 1,120

    In other words, if the 20% was only per month, your four-week numbers would actually be a full 33% lower.

    Also, to pick nits, you’re not actually “growing” your traffic over 300%. Your traffic is 320% of what it was in week 1, but you only grew it by 220% 😉

  12. 20% return visitor rate is per week Shane, most stat programs like Google analytics will show your returning visitor percentage over the last week when you login so I tend to work on weekly figures.

    • That’s what I figured. I’m just used to looking at monthly, so I wanted to make sure. It was amazing to see the difference in the two.

      • I like looking at stats like these as monthly too. But you also have to think about those people with dynamic ips and so forth those would not be counted as a return visitor correct?

        • They would if you’re using a cookie-based stats package like StatCounter or Google Analytics. They don’t depend on IPs, so they’re much more reliable.

  13. I use FF and see the favicon now 😀 First animated one I’ve ever seen, didn’t even know you could animate it 😮

    Also saw the Digg it icon!

  14. I had a good look over my stats today in Analytics. I tend to just look at the same few graphs each day (several times).

    What I found interesting was the “Absolute Unique Visitors” which I believe is the graph we should be looking at here for calculating retention of visitors for a given week. I was using the graph on the home page of the analytics stats which gives a good idea, but is not actually showing the retention of visitors over a period of time.

    Unfortunatly I see my actual retention is lower at around 2 – 3%. This does fall inline with the traffic growth I have been seeing though which is quite good, but could be better 🙂

  15. Honestly, I find it difficult to keep visitors on my site. I must be doing something wrong. The percentage of returning visitors versus new visitors is extremely low.

    • I would say it’s because there are too many ads on your front page. I think all the more internet savvy people (who seem to be your target audience) get turned off when they arrive at a site and the first thing they see are ads. At least that’s how I feel.

      • Dawid is correct Keith in my opinion, to grow your return visitor numbers you would have to trade that with lowering your monetisation as using adsense to quickly take visitors off your website means that you never get a chance to brand yourself to the visitor or let that user bookmark your site.

  16. I just created this site for my coffee mug printing business about 2 months ago. I would like any opinions on how to increase my visits or any overall improvements I can introduce. Thanks!

    • From a very general SEO point of view Nathan a lot of the text on your website is image based, for example your FAQ, all that text cannot be read by the search engines so you shoudl look to add alt tags to images and use text if you can for your pages rather than saving text as an unreadable image.

      For generating traffic I would probably look to send out some branded freebies to popular bloggers and website owners and consider expanding your range from more than just mugs if at all possible.

    • tecwzrd says:

      Scott touched on some key issues but from a designers point of view the site needs some drastic improvements.

      First off, considering you are selling a product you might want to abandon the Google AdSense or at least place it at the bottom of the page.

      All your pages don’t just use images for links but the whole page is one HUGE image i.e.
      main page at 221.52 KB, catalog page at 153.05 KB, & humor page at 471.15 KB!. These pages take 45+ seconds to load on a 56k and could easily be optimized individually. Your sample images look photoshopped and not like actual photos or text on the mugs.

      I found alt text for each major image but if you insist on using an image map you can add them to image maps for each link.

      I would redesign the site using mostly text where you can and optimize each image separately and try to get your load time for each page to 30 seconds or less on a 56k.

      Sites like http://www.sitereportcard.com, http://www.creatingonline.com, & http://www.websiteoptimization.com are all good sites for checking code and how to optimize a web site.

      Your prices are reasonable but as Scott mentioned if you can branch out to other items (specifically ones that travel easily I think you could do better.

  17. tecwzrd says:

    Glad to help 😀 See you already optimized all the images below 80K (gif was a great choice) and load times are around 20-30 seconds for a 56k connection. The images still look great and I don’t think you could get them any smaller without sacrificing quality.

    Only thing left to add is the alt=”text” between

  18. Thanks for sharing. I interested to try favicon, but maybe later because right now i just concentrate with SEO.

  19. Interesting I never thought of the expoential groth of retaining a few of those new visitors each day as most of my sites are notgeared to return visitors thanks for the thought 🙂

  20. My Current Returning Visitors is 23.77% I’m happy with this as my blog is only just 2 months old.

    After reading this post I have added a “Bookmark This Page” Link at the top of my blog and at the end of each post. I hope this will help.

    I’m also now thinking about removing my adverts until the site has more users. When do you think is a good time to put ads on a site? (how much traffic/age)

    Thanks

    • Personally if the site can at least get a few hundred a day, there is no hard and fast rule but perhaps at least for the first 6 months keep it ad free and build content.

  21. Great article. I’ve never really thought about it that way before. Just checked and my shopping site has about 10-15% returning visitors, traffic is pretty low, so are conversions. I’m currently working on improving this though. The property site I work on has an average of about 25% returning visitors. Which is nice!!

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