Traffic Hacking: How to Find (and Focus on) Your Top Sources of Web Traffic

Traffic Hacking - How to Find Your Best Source of Web TrafficWe all understand the importance of traffic generation.

The problem?

There are so many different sources of traffic that it’s hard to know what’s worth your time and what isn’t.

Fortunately, there is a quick fix to this problem.

All you have to do is use a few tools and apply a specific mindset to your traffic generation efforts. Then you can easily identify the most effective promotional tools for your authority site and/or Kindle books.

It’s been over a year since I started the Authority Internet Business Case Study.  During this time, I’ve experimented with a variety of traffic sources to the site (DGH).  What have I learned?  There are only a handful of tactics that actually work (for me.)

In this post, I’m going to reveal a seven-step plan for finding your top sources of traffic and explain what to do when you identify them.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #1: Set Up Conversion Tracking[/title]

When I first introduced the “Authority Internet Business” case study, I talked about the importance of identifying your Most Wanted Response (MWR). Although the Kindle books are selling well, the MWR for DGH will always be to build an email list.

The key to measuring the success of your MWR is to track when a visitor takes the specific action you need them to take. This is easy to do if you’re using squeeze pages to collect email addresses (more on this later), but it’s not so simple when you run a blog.

Fortunately, Google Analytics has a tool that makes it easy to track email conversions (the trick is to know where to look). Here’s how you set up conversion tracking for your blog.

First, access the admin inside your Google Analytics account. To be honest, this can be hard to find, so here’s a quick screenshot:

Admin of Google Analytics

 Next, select the red “New Goal” button:

Create a New Goal in Google Analytics

Third, you’ll choose a type of goal. I recommend the Newsletter sign up option:

Newsletter Sign Up Option in Google Analytics

After that, name the goal. You could stick with Newsletter sign up or use something else that’s appropriate:

Goal Description in Google Analytics

Finally, insert a link to the first page visitors see after they sign up for your email marketing program—either a thank you or confirmation page:

Goal Setup

Voila! Now you know how to set up conversion tracking for your website.

To be honest, I forgot to do this for the DGH site until early February. Here’s how conversion tracking looks inside Google Analytics.

Conversion Rates in Google Analytics

After setting up conversion tracking, you’re ready to identify those important sources of traffic.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #2: Focus on “Big Three” Metrics[/title]

Just like there are countless sources of traffic, there are countless ways to analyze your visitors. A lot of them are important, but overall, it’s best to focus on three key metrics:

  • Unique Visitors: How many visitors does this traffic source generate?
  • Time on Page: How long do they stick around?
  • Conversion: How many visitors turn into email subscribers?

As you build your business, there is a lot of value in taking an in-depth look at your analytics and using the information to maximize the visitor experience. When you’re first getting started, your best bet is to focus on these three key metrics. This will prevent you from getting overwhelmed with data.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #3: Stick to 80/20 Activities[/title]

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts or Kindle books, then you know I always talk (sometimes nonstop) about the importance of knowing your 80/20.

Basically, the “80/20 rule” states that 80 percent of your results often come from 20 percent of your activities. Apply this to traffic generation and you’d see that only a few traffic sources produce a measurable return on your time and money.

The key here is to “double down” on what’s working and purposefully ignore the rest.

A great example of this is StumbleUpon. In the first quarter of 2014 (January through March), this site produced the following:

  • 5,783 Visitors
  • 0:16 Time on Page
  • 3 Conversions

Stumble Upon Traffic

Do the math and you’ll see a ridiculously low conversion rate of 0.05 percent.

Based on these numbers, it’s evident that StumbleUpon is a complete waste of my time.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #4: Drive Traffic to a Squeeze Page[/title]

While a blog is great place to market content, it’s not always the best place to send potential visitors. Instead, I recommend building an email list and driving traffic to a squeeze page. I do this when people have consumed a piece of content and would like more information—like Kindle books, guest posts and SlideShare presentations.

What’s important is to create a squeeze page for each type of traffic. That way you know if it’s worth continuing. As an example, here is a screenshot of the conversion rates on a few squeeze pages for DGH:

Lead Pages Conversion

As you can see, I get the bulk of my subscribers from Kindle books, plus they convert the best. Guest posts also do pretty well. And while SlideShare presentations don’t convert that well, they don’t require too much of my personal time (more on this in a bit).

Overall, you should experiment with how you generate traffic. Try sending some people to squeeze pages and others to specific pages on your blog. Do it this way to get a good understanding of how each type of visitor behaves. Experimenting will help you determine the best way to increase conversion rates.

IMPORTANT:  In my 10+ years of Internet marketing, I’ve tried a variety of programs to design squeeze pages. Without a doubt, my favorite is Lead Pages {affiliate link}. Not only do they make it easy to set up and test different squeeze pages, they also provide easy-to-understand reports that help you identify what traffic sites actually convert. This kind of information is super important if you want to grow your authority business.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #5: Test Different Traffic Sources[/title]

You won’t know what works for your site unless you experiment with different traffic sources. The best way to do this is track how much time and/or money you spend on each website. Basically your goal is to identify the sites that convert visitors into email subscribers with the least amount of time and/or money.

As an experiment, I tested a whole bunch of traffic sources in the first quarter of 2014:

All Traffic for Q1 2014

Sidebar: If you’re interested, feel free to check out the different content I’ve tested on these platforms:

From the above image, you probably noticed that the traffic sources vary in quantity, quality and conversion rates. Some (like Facebook and StumbleUpon) drive lots of traffic, but don’t convert as many visitors into email subscribers. Others (like a guest post on generate a small amount of traffic, but produce higher conversion rates.

I recommend studying these numbers at least once a month. You’ll discover this simple analysis provides a lot of insight into the traffic sources that actually work.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #6: Target “80 Percent Results” Activities[/title]

Think back to our discussion of the 80/20 rule. Only a handful of activities will generate a measurable result for your traffic generation efforts. Your job is to focus more of your time on them and look for ways to scale what’s proven to already work.

I recently looked at the numbers for the first quarter of 2014 (see step #5) and determined that only a few traffic sources are currently working:

  • Kindle books
  • Organic search
  • Guest posts
  • SlideShare
  • Pinterest

Now, it would be a mistake to focus all of my energy on these sources. Instead it would be smarter to leverage existing content and hire talented people to create more of it.

So moving forward, I’m doing the following to grow traffic (without requiring too much additional work on my part):

Strategy 1 – Write More Kindle Books: Obviously, this has been my most successful traffic and income strategy as of today (check out my latest income report for more information).  It makes sense to focus on improving the quantity and quality of my existing catalog. That’s why I’m focusing so much time on building a team around Kindle books.

Strategy 2 – Publish More Guest Posts: Between this site, DGH and publishing Kindle books, I don’t have a lot of extra time for guest posting. However, I’ve recently made the decision that DGH will become a multi-author site. As a result, this gives me free reign to hire other people to write guest posts that promote the site, build quality backlinks and generate leads for the email newsletter.

Strategy 3 – Hire Blog Writers:  Quality content is important for any type of authority site. But like I said, I don’t have a lot of time to post regular updates to DGH. That’s why I’ve started to hire writers to create three to four quality blog posts per month.

The key with this strategy is to find a compelling hook for each article idea. This will help your site in a number of ways:

  1. It’ll generate more backlinks, which could improve search rankings.
  2. It will have more “shareability” over social media.
  3. Each post can easily be turned into a catchy SlideShare presentation.
  4. Each post can be broken down into attractive Pinterest images.

Moving forward, I think it’s better to focus on quality over quantity. By hiring outside writers, I can manage the process and make sure that I’m getting the maximum return on each article.

Strategy 4 – Ramp up SlideShare: A few weeks back, I started playing around with SlideShare. So far, it’s paid off, generating 581 subscribers.

The final strategy I’m implementing is tweaking and improving what’s proven to be a legitimate source of traffic. Here are a few things I’m currently testing:

  • Improving the call-to-action (CTA) at the end of every deck.
  • Turning each new blog post into a presentation, then embedding it into the article as a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the post.
  • Sending broadcast messages to my email list to engage subscribers and increase the number of views on each deck.
  • Taking existing content (like parts of Kindle books and old blog posts) and turning them into presentations.

What I like best about SlideShare is it’s a great way of driving traffic without requiring too much personal time. I simply tell my VA what I need (I found my VA on Virtual Staff Finder), and she does the majority of the work. In total, I’d say my average time investment is about 30 to 45 minutes per deck.

To be honest, I’m not doing anything revolutionary with SlideShare. Basically, I’m following the advice that’s laid out in these awesome blog posts:

Strategy 5 – Leverage Images: Another thing I like about SlideShare is you can easily turn each slide into an image. This gives you that extra mileage from your existing content, and it doesn’t take that much time to add each image to your Pinterest account.

Overall, I’m still not convinced that Pinterest is a great source of traffic, but I enjoy posting images there as a hobby. It’s not that big of a deal to add the pictures that my VA supplies after completing each SlideShare presentation.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Step #7: Experiment with New Traffic Sources[/title]

In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that there are countless ways to generate traffic. And while it’s important to focus on high-leverage, 80 percent activities, it’s equally important to experiment with new traffic sources.

My recommendation?

Test one new source of traffic every month. The cool thing about having an authority site is you already have an existing platform. It’s not too hard to create a few pieces of content and use your established audience to gain traction on this new platform.

Furthermore, most of the time, you don’t need to create new content. If you’ve written a few Kindle books and/or blog posts, it’s not too hard to turn them into consumable content that will get the attention of a whole new audience.

For instance, last month I barely knew a thing about SlideShare and now I have a channel that has 250+ followers and 70,000+ views. This was done entirely by repurposing existing content and putting it into a different format.

Even better, I can now easily take these presentations, add royalty-free music and turn them into simple videos that I post on YouTube.

My point?

There is a lot of potential traffic out there. Make the most of each source by taking your existing content and converting it to slides, tweets, images and other formats. Doing this will put your content in front of a whole new audience, making it easier to drive traffic to your site and turn visitors into subscribers.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]How to Find Your 80 Percent Traffic Sources[/title]

What I love most about traffic generation is there isn’t a right answer. What works for some people won’t work for others. This gives you the opportunity to test different things for your authority business and then find the handful of sources that work for you.

Kindle books, blogging and SlideShare are my most effective strategies, and Facebook is a complete disaster. Yet, I know lots of people are making a killing with social media. The point here is you don’t have to be good at everything. Instead, all you need to do is find those few sites that generate the best results…for you.

It’s not hard to identify your 80 percent traffic strategies. Simply set up conversion tracking through Google Analytics and experiment with sending visitors to a squeeze page. Then focus on the three big metrics (visitors, time on page and conversions) to see what method is producing a measurable result. Finally, keep testing different strategies until you discover what works best for your business.

Take Action. Get Results.

40 thoughts on “Traffic Hacking: How to Find (and Focus on) Your Top Sources of Web Traffic”

  1. Great post!

    Every time I read a new blog article from you it always motivates me to keep writing and working at growing my Kindle business.

    While I’m not seeing quite all of the sales I’d like in the niche that I’m currently working on, I know that if I keep at it and do the same thing you did (write lots of books, provide good content, build an email list) I’ll succeed in the end.

    Thank you SO MUCH for this and all of your articles.

    They’ve really helped me.


    • Appreciate the comment Mark. I do find that the write, publish, repeat model does work, but it’s also getting harder to compete on Amazon. You might want to start list building leveraging other platforms. Hopefully this post can help. 🙂

      • For sure.

        I haven’t had much success with anything else yet (I absolutely HATE social media) but maybe if I put more effort in I would get more results…

        Thanks again!

  2. Steve, I can always rely on you to pass along some bit of truly useful information. That’s why I always get a little excited when I receive you emails. I immediately pop out here, because I don’t want to miss anything.

    Thanks for sharing how your traffic sources are working out for you. I don’t currently have a Facebook business page because I have wondered if it is worth the bother. My solution has been to make all of my personal posts “Public”. I write them knowing that the whole world can see them. I allow people to “Follow” me which has helped a lot because now, only the people I know put in Friend” requests. Whenever I post a link to my blog, I get a fair amount of traffic, but like you, it doesn’t convert to list joining very well.

    But I have sold books that way. (I didn’t push them but just talked about my progress when I was writing them, etc. I told my FB friends about what I was working on in the same way you’d tell any of your friends. I didn’t pitch, I shared. It worked.)

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Slideshare lately and knowing that it is working for you will move it up my list.


    • Appreciate the comment Rozanne. Glad you’re looking forward to my emails.

      Yeah, Facebook is a complete mystery to me. And to be honest, it’s getting harder because they now are starting to make you pay for the “privilege” of contacting your followers.

      It does sound like you’re on the right track with FB… have conversations, talk about what you’re doing and make genuine connections.

      Definitely check out SlideShare… so far, I’m loving it!

  3. Damn Steve! That is some heavy duty stuff right there! I didn’t even know about slideshare, but I’ve been contemplating narrating many of my 700 old blog posts, setting them to slides, and putting them on YouTube. This could be much more efficient and easy to delegate, and I could still put them on YouTube!

    So smart to be testing what really matters, which is mostly email subscription. As you know, I’ve had a site with huge traffic, and found it barely did more than nothing getting 5,000 visitors to my site every day with 12 blog authors.

    Now that I’m set up to actually capture leads, I’m more motivated than ever to drive targeted traffic. Thanks buddy, as always.

    • Thanks for stopping by Matt! Dude, 700 blog posts. You could easily turn those into good presentations/videos. My advice is to put together a simple process and outsource the whole process. As “Buck Flogging” would say, this would be a great way to build your list. 🙂

  4. Great post Steve!

    One of the things that I’ve been doing to generate more traffic to my website, is making YouTube videos, and inviting people to visit my blogposts.

    This strategy has been working really well for me.

    Now You gave me a great idea, that is creating slides and images with
    the same content that I alredy have in website.

    Thank You!

  5. Steve, probably the best post so far. Very useful information. Is there any preference for email gathering software like aweber, mailchimp, etc…

  6. Hey Steve

    Thank you for another amazing post. This is very helpful!

    I checked out your Slideshare channel and it’s pretty cool. I was wondering if you get the VA to source the images and compile the presentations. I am impressed by the image choice — would you share where you bought them?


    • Hey Pooja — They’re actually part of the Creative Commons license through Flickr. She includes the original link in each slide, that way the original author gets full credit.

  7. Great tips, Steve! Perfect timing as I prepare to attend a conference with other web-preneurs. I feel so overwhelmed trying to launch my site and products before the conference! This post renewed my focus. I’m a big fan of your Kindle titles and have read most of them! Now…to APPLY what I’ve read!

      • SNAP conference. Got all fired up after attending Digital Marketers Traffic and Conversion conference in San Diego in Jan., went home, got busy! Thought I should plug into the female web-preneur network because my planners and my goals course is visually appealing for the female market segment. My goal for the conference is to book 10 guests for a podcast in May to discuss organization tools that make living your life more intentional. Clearing space for the activities that are meaningful and align with your priorities instead of aimlessly stumbling through the weeks without living the life you desire.

        • Didn’t make it to T&C this year… but learned lots in the previous events. Sounds like the SNAP conference is a good one. Hope you get a lot out of it!

  8. Great post Steve! Interesting to note that those who stayed on the site the longest were from Amazon. Google organic search isn’t bad either.

    I’ve played around with SlideShare a bit and, at least currently, it’s pretty darn search engine friendly. Not to mention the amount of people that are there. I think having quality looking slides with quality content of course really helps.

    • Yeah, I love Amazon traffic. Google converts well too… Unfortunately, it’s hard to get more of it with all the changes to their algorithm. Slideshare is pretty awesome … you’re right though, a lot of it is predicated on designing compelling looking images.

  9. Excellent article Steve on analyzing your web traffic. Lots to think about.

    Question? I looked at your Slideshare deck that you link from this post and you have a clickable link at the back for a CTA for your book. Is that just a normal link done on the pdf in Adobe Acrobat before you uploaded the file? Does Slideshare hold those links?

    great post, thanks

    • Bruce — That’s something you can do within Adobe (or pretty much any PDF editing software.) SlideShare does let you put in clickable images. But I imagine they would crack down if your whole deck is one big promo.

      • thank you Steve. I always forget about Slideshare even though I have presentations sitting up there. But when I look at presentations they they often have pretty good viewing numbers. And I saw what you have done. It is easy to drop in a web link at the back end for a call to action.

        thank you

  10. Hi Steve,
    This is an awesome post. I have never done any of this before and you just helped me set up my first goal! I have to re-read this article just to let everything sink in.

    I have a question for you on a similar note as this post but it’s regarding signups. I am having a bear of a time building a mailing list. I might get a signup or two per week but I want to give you a few more stats. My average read time for a visitor is 2:17 and my bounce rate is 1.25% so people appear to like the content and stick around for a while. I am contemplating adding a delayed image that will appear after someone is on my site for at least 10 seconds or so that will basically be a Newsletter signup. Is that called a Shadowbox? I use aWeber so I’m wondering if they can help me set one up. Any guidance would be appreciated on plugins, etc. I have a signup on my sidebar but that isn’t working so well.

    Another reason I haven’t tried to set this up yet is because I am afraid of driving readers away and my bounce rate rising significantly. I would love to hear your take on this and whether you think I should add one and what type would you suggest? I have heard of something called Popup Dominator recommended by Pat Flynn but I think that’s fairly old.


  11. #1 established. Thank you Steve.
    BTW, ’10 minute philosophy’ and ‘ten minute philosophy’ have both over 100 million results and my link is on the 1st page!

      • Are you trying to offend me or something? 😛
        Of course I am. Writers write.

        I finished 1st draft of a book about overcoming shynes and developing confidence by talking to strangers.
        I need to figure out the marketing approach as both confidence and overcoming shyness don’t seem to carry much weight on Amazon.

      • Steve, I have the goal established since a week ot two, but GA shows 0% conversions. However the subscriptions are trickling in Aweber…
        I have a simple .htm page as a ‘thank-you’ page.
        It looks like GA doesn’t see any visits on this page. I’ve just checked subscription process and everything works fine, people are sent to that page.
        Any ideas?

  12. Great break down. I see how powerful slide share can be. I think it all refers to who you are targeting for your site/blog. Keep up the amazing tips and suggestions!

  13. You are a stickler for detail, Nick. Few treat Internet marketing quite as a science like you, although that’s the only way top track results and discover causal relationships. It was a fascinating read and “the sell more Kindle books” now is something that will stick in my mind though at the time I cannot afford to set aside enough time to venture down that path. Now you have me studying your Authority study, which eats into even more of my time 🙂

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