I've decided I've done enough design posts lately, so I'm here again with a post concerning website traffic. Today I'm going to focus on how to build long-term website traffic, with the power of exponential growth.
I am going to be focusing this post particularly on blogs rather than plain websites. Can a regular website gain traffic with this same method? Of course, but blogs are natural attractions for search engines and visitor growth, and so I'm focusing on blogs because there is so much more you can do with them to help the process along.
What is Exponential Growth?
Exponential growth with website traffic is the idea that, over time, your visitor count will grow, and as time goes on, it will grow faster. The graph below is a general visual of how exponential traffic should grow over a long period of time.
Let's use an example to see how exponential traffic growth can affect a blog. Let's say you're just starting a blog, and your visitor count is at a pure zero.
You go post the opening of your website on your favorite forum. This gets you 5 hits your first day. Not much, but it's something. The next day you go to the same forum, and put your new website in your signature, and post around for a bit. Now you have the visitors coming in from your forum signature, and some still viewing the post from yesterday. Your visitor count can easily double today, even though you only did one thing to promote it today.
As time continues, your link will get posted around the web, either from you or your new readers. Your backlink count goes up, and so does your search engine ranking.
Now without proper SEO practices or a bad website, this process can be slow, but if you have a great site, or are in the least improving it with every post, the growth will become faster. More people will link you, and more people will be able to discover your blog.
Use the Power of Exponential Growth
Here are some things you can do to get the process of exponential growth started, even from the perspective of a website just starting out. Even if you've been around for awhile, it's a good idea to practice these three things.
1) Put your link in all of your forum signatures. This is a good way to get a lot of one-time visitors, but you're still creating backlinks, and your posts are fairly permanent. Later on, when your blog improves with more content, forum goers can still find your link floating around in that forum.
2) Submit each post to at least two social bookmarking websites. I submit each of my posts two four of these: Digg, StumbleUpon, Technorati, and del.icio.ous. Many people come to your site through these, and if others bookmark your post as well, it will slowly move up in the chain, and become more visible to new potential visitors. It's very much a process that works your posts into fame, almost automatically.
3) Create content people will link to. The only way to improve website traffic long-term is to have others start linking you. Soon, their own social network can find and link you, and then members of their network can link you, and so on. Try to create content that will teach your readers something, or give them a freebie of something useful.
These three things help, but any form of posting your website for potential visitors to see is helpful. The idea is to be able to drive new traffic to your site for each post, so you can constantly promote new and improved content.
What to Expect from Exponential Growth
When a population of some sort notices one of your posts for whatever reason, you'll notice you get a spike in your visitor count. This may come from a post that a highly-valued Digg member dugg, one of your tutorials on a popular tutorial site, or even just a well made post with viral buzz. Whatever it's from, it's too be expected.
The point is, it's exciting when it happens, but don't get too bummed out when your visitor count goes back down to where it was. Even though it drops back down, your visitor count is still going to grow in the long-run.
2) Non-steady Growth
Sometimes your blog may not grow exponentially at first, even if you're planning it out that way. The sample graph below from Sohu.com notices a large drop in February for whatever reason, and a high peak in January. This could be from various reasons, but you'll notice a non-steady incline overall too. From the first of October to April, however, there has been a significant increase in traffic. If the website is maintained regularly, this pattern should continue.
3) It takes time, at first
The graph below shows a two year graph on the top, but the graph on the bottom shows a longer timeframe for the same website. You can see the spikes and non-steady growth on the shorter timeframe, but once you view the long-range graph, you can see a significant increase in website traffic.
This is the most important thing to remember when building website traffic-- it takes time. Be patient, and expect a bit of failure along the way.
As you can see, exponential growth is a powerful force. For a long time you're not going to see the exponential effect, but after awhile you'll start noticing faster increases in website traffic, and a website traffic graph will show the effect as well.