Organic Traffic Building: The Only Way To Grow A Sustainable Web Brand

Yes, Digg is awesome. I know, I’ve had my content reach page 1 several times and send me 10,000+ absolutely unique visitors in one day.

But, unfortunately here’s the truth: Digg and other social media sites are not overnight king-makers of your brand on the web.

Sure, social media is fantastic for bringing your brand to the attention of a huge community of people and spreading your ideas. But, if your goal is to build a sustainable web brand for influence or monetization purposes you cannot rely on social media alone to build your traffic and hits.

Digg traffic is kind of like the icing on the cake for your web property. It easily will propel one popular piece of content on your site into a strong viral channel. This is wonderful if you’re a brand which already has a fan base, or if you’re a marketer and simply trying to get more attention for something you’re promoting (say, a YouTube video).

But, what if you’re a new blogger, have a new online shop or are starting something on the web from scratch?

In those cases, huge spikes in traffic are nice, but your real goals as a blogger are more subscribers, and if you’re an online store more loyal customers (close to the same thing).

If you’re a blogger, one-off traffic is all well and good, but unfortunately will not amount to building your brand the way subscribers will. As I’ve written before: subscribers and heavy users are your vital visitors.

If you’re an online store, you may see an increase in sales that day, but it will not be an overnight jump in traffic, sales and visitors that plateaus. It will more likely look like a quick peak, then back to baseline.

In both these cases, it’s nice, but not sustainable.

The problem I find with much of the social media traffic is that much of the user base is interested primarily in a constant stream of new, diverse content. The community members are reliant on that group of their peers (including themselves) to take on the role as democratic editors and push the content they see as worthwhile to the top.

This is not to say you might not get some subscribers and new interest, but even I find while using Digg I am more apt to consume the content I was linked to and my first, automatic reaction is to click back to Digg for the next story.

Not the case when I’m reading my favorite blogs, especially the ones that I find worthwhile and have proven themselves experts. Many bloggers post “link threads” wherein they offer personal, direct referrals to sites they find worthwhile. These types of posts are just one way I end up discovering great content and becoming a subscriber to new sites (Steven at Van SEO Design has mastered the art of the link post).

Personally, I am more apt to read a personal, trusted referral than I am to read one that has been recommended by people I don’t know as deeply. Yes, you do get to know someone pretty deeply reading their blog day in and day out.

With this site, I have focused most of my effort entirely on creating content and have found that people are sharing my stuff and I’m getting traffic/interest without having to do much, other than focus on writing. It’s extremely exciting and leaves me buzzing when people share my articles, and is definitely a strong motivator for creating more.

And, it’s helped me achieve organic, sustained growth with this site – here’s my traffic growth since January:

Since the inception of this blog, my traffic numbers have steadily increased each month, in an arithmetic, not exponential rate. This is exactly what I want, as I am interested in building return, loyal traffic that is genuinely interested in what I’m writing and wants to engage in the conversation.

You should spend most of your time creating content, but networking matters too

I’ve achieved this sustained growth through spending most of my time focused on creating the best possible content, as I said above, but I also do spend time:

  • Networking with other bloggers and actively participating on their sites
  • Being an active participant in a variety of social media sites
  • Taking advantage of my social networking pages on Facebook and MySpace, where I already had a built-in audience
  • Posting on message boards and forums
  • Utilizing free blog promotion services, such as Blogburst
  • Following the advice of ProBlogger and Daily Blog Tips
  • Using microblogging services such as Twitter and FriendFeed
  • Posting with frequency and providing value to readers
  • Promoting my site in person to others in my industry
  • Developing positive relationships with social media users and other bloggers

And yes, I’ll admit it – my highest trafficked days were days I hit page one of Digg. But, I notice my subscribers and organic search engine traffic are building at a more sustained rate. It’s slowly going up, but it is going up. That’s exactly the type of traffic you should aim for, and it will take time, effort and dedication.

Never spend a dime on some program convincing you they can give you the keys to unlocking sustainable traffic, influence or money through the web. The secret is that there are no secrets, no shortcuts. I am convinced that this is a space where perseverance, passion and content wins if your goals are sustainable traffic – and not just be the flavor-of-the-day site of the web.

Related articles from The Future Buzz:

Attracting Attention Online: Only Exception Content Matters

8 Essential Tips to Score Subscribers

Promotion is Secondary to Content

Related articles from around the web:

How to get piles of links, subscribers and comments (Skelliewag.org)

21 ways to make your blog or website sticky (ProBlogger.net)

If you intend to blog seriously (ChrisBrogan.com)