I know the feeling all too well. I open my laptop and I hear an Eagle screech as tumbleweeds float across my website. I put my thumbs in my belt loops and stare at the empty comments section, the low follower count, and the low conversion rate staring right back at me. 

Businesses have to start somewhere. And that somewhere will almost always be the middle of nowhere – a ghost-town. 

Getting traffic to your ghost-town storefront or website can be done two ways:

  1. Organic Traffic aka “free traffic”
  2. Paid Traffic aka paying your dues 

Let’s be honest, when you look up “organic traffic” you’ll get vague statements like “use social media” and “pay $100 a month to get some crazy keyword data.” To learn the real, actionable secrets about organic traffic requires trying for yourself. And I’m going to share my experiences getting organic traffic to my green business.

Here are six moments that made me go “aha!” and lead to an increased population of our site and social media.

1.The difference between paid and organic traffic extends beyond just cost

At first, I thought the difference between paid and organic traffic was obviously drummed up to one thing – money. Paid traffic is when you buy ads, and organic traffic means I simply get traffic for free! Seems simple right? 

But the truth of the matter is – the quality of your leads and the TIME it takes to implement these traffic strategies varies GREATLY between paid and organic traffic.

Organic traffic such as through networking on Facebook Groups in your niche and creating lead magnets that capture email addresses will almost always create HIGHER quality leads than paid traffic. But it will take a lot of your time. Especially starting out, I’ll argue that the time it takes to gather free traffic is actually worth it in the long run because you’re IN THE WEEDS of learning about your audience. 

Paid traffic creates a sort of disconnect because the algorithm essentially finds the audience for you, and even though Zuckerberg tries his hardest, you’re still the best at it.

For example, running a giveaway is one of the top-reported ways to get traffic. You give away an item, pay for ads to get giveaway entries, and then sit back and wait for the leads to roll in.

But the problem is, a giveaway will almost always result in leads who just want free stuff – not ideal buyers.

That’s not to say that giveaways are useless. They can be a GREAT start to getting some eyes on your message and product/service. But in terms of actual conversions? Good luck, partner. 

2. Drop those expensive SEO tools and eat some alphabet soup 

SEO tools are almost always VERY inaccurate. There’s countless examples of tools showing that a keyword is getting NO traffic on Google only to look at your own website and realize it’s completely wrong. Don’t believe me?

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3: Me. Once we stopped looking at keyword trackers and starting doing the following method, our first blog ranked #3 on Google. 

I’m talking about alphabet soup. Alphabet soup is a method of keyword research that relies on auto-complete. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Choose a keyword or key phrase (multiple keywords)  and type it into Google or Etsy or Amazon … not logged in (you can open an Incognito tab for this)
  2. Press space, and watch magically as the search bar auto-fills your screen with tons of keywords GUARANTEED to be highly searched
  3. Follow that key phrase with a…then b…then c…to get different, more specific content ideas
  4. Complete the search for a specific key phrase to see how competitive it is 

The Alphabet Soup Technique may even be used to help you find new products to sell that are related to your niche. Who knows, you may end up finding a profitable low competitive product to sell, all because you paid attention to the alphabet in first grade.

Tip – Add “question words” to this method like “Who, What, When, Where, Why” to get questions related to your niche. Here’s an example of some great blog ideas for an organic soap company:

Some Helpful Google Plugins

SEO Quake, Keywords Everywhere

3. The 40/40/20 Rule Content = 40 percent audience, 40 percent offer, 20 percent writing content

Especially if you love to write like me, you’re going to be EXCITED to start pumping out content. I remember when we first started our blog I was writing almost two blogs a week, pumping out tons of social media posts that I put a LOT of work into, and then … nothing. Why? Because 90 percent of my time went into creating the content, and only 10 percent was actually researching what the heck was going on.

It was not until I saw the 40/40/20 rule that it clicked – most of our time should NOT be actually writing the content as business owners. Most of our time should be researching the audience, sitting back and LISTENING to our customers on our reviews and on other social media.

What do they ACTUALLY want and are you speaking to YOUR customer or just writing what you feel like writing? It can sometimes feel so WASTEFUL to spend so much time just … browsing and thinking and not actually hitting the “publish button” on anything. But trust that once you set aside time to learn more about your market on a continual basis, you will start to succeed and have “aha moments” of your own.

Not sure who your audience is? 

And the remainder of the time? Crafting an offer. A confused buyer doesn’t buy. Your websites, blogs, social media, etc. should all have a CLEAR path to whatever offer you’re presenting.

4. Don’t be THAT Business on Social Media

We all know that business – the one that posts on social media, smiles at their creation, then logs off and has a margarita. Well…that was us. And then we were baffled when we had no engagement. 

As a business trying to get organic traffic to your social media, it is JUST as important to be actually ACTIVE on that platform with OTHERS as it is to post on our own.

Don’t log off after you’ve posted! Actively follow new accounts, comment on their posts, share THEIR posts on your account when appropriate, etc. 

Once you start using social media for its intended purpose–being social–your account will likely start gaining tons of traction. Plus, you’ll probably make some well-worthy connections along the way!

Importantly, read the community guidelines of your platform before you start heavily networking.

I know, staring at a community guidelines sheet probably gives you hives and puts you into instant nap-mode, but taking even just 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the guidelines is WELL WORTH the risk mitigation. 

Before networking, it’s also helpful to think about what social media is best for you. If your customers are millennials, you probably want to be on Instagram or Twitter. If they’re older moms, you want to be on Pinterest and Facebook. Research the demographics of each platform.

Also as a quick note – Green consumers are PASSIONATE people. Don’t forget about Twitter and Reddit – where most passionate people post.

5. Facebook Group admins are Influencers

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Today at F8, I talked about how we're starting to build out a privacy-focused social platform. For the last 15 years, we've built Facebook and Instagram into digital equivalents of the town square, where you can interact with lots of people at once. Now we're focused on building the digital equivalent of the living room, where you can interact in all the ways you'd want privately — from messaging and stories to secure payments and more. To bring this vision to life, we're building Messenger and WhatsApp into platforms for all kinds of private interactions and working on making end-to-end encryption the default for both. We've redesigned Facebook to make communities as central as friends. We've added new ways to buy things securely on Instagram. Augmented and virtual reality also create more personal and intimate experiences — so we’re bringing WhatsApp to Portal, adding end-to-end encryption for all calls, and launching Portal internationally. And I'm very excited that this year we're shipping Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, the headset that gives you full freedom of movement with no cables. As we build more of our services around this privacy vision, we're also changing how we run our company. We're committed to consulting with experts on the major tradeoffs and social issues to find the best path forward, taking a more active role in making sure developers use our tools in good ways, and building out the technical infrastructure to support this vision. This is going to take time and we don't have all the answers yet, but we're focused on getting this right and doing it openly. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you as we continue on this journey to build a private social platform.

A post shared by Mark Zuckerberg (@zuck) on

On Instagram last year, Zuckerberg wrote, “Now we’re focused on building the digital equivalent of the living room.” 

And then they rolled out massive advertising campaigns to showcase Facebook Groups — that act like living rooms of people who share interests in anything from veganism to zero waste to even pretending to be ants in an ant colony (which has over one million members). 

Facebook Groups are all about community with like-minded individuals, and thus are a perfect place to reach your SPECIFIC customers from a place of service.  Like all great content marketing, you first have to give and give for free before you can ask.

So if you sell vegan soaps, join groups of vegan people, natural beauty gurus, or any green consumer groups. Then, come from a place of service — offer advice, share tips/tricks, and ask questions. Once you connect, make an offer.

When you’re looking at groups, don’t forget about checking who the admins are. Are they a business? A personal profile?

These admins, who interact with members — oftentimes THOUSANDS of members — are influencers in their own right. Some of them even sell “ads” that post announcements in the groups about your business for as low $20!

Here’s a list of keywords to start searching for more groups for any green business:

There are countless other organic traffic secrets that are left to be discovered. As long as your goal is to put people above the product and focus on connecting with and learning about your audience, your ghost-town will transform into a bustling community of buyers that visit again and again. 

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