How to effectively drive traffic to your site with Facebook

Facebook has a ton of potential to be a highly powerful tool in sending traffic to your site. It’s one of the prime locations on the net with a gigantic number of users and it also has many impressive features and options that help to make it perfect for getting people to your site. And it’s important to note too that Facebook success is correlated with Google success.
Unfortunately though, a lot of people just don’t know how to maximize Facebook’s potential. As a result they end up floundering and wasting a lot of time and energy there without getting the results they’re looking for.
Building traffic with Facebook is a science and there are a precise set of steps and tips you can use to make the network work for you. Read on to find out what those are…

Understanding the Statistics

Before we dive right in though, it’s important to understand precisely where Facebook lies in terms of the SEO landscape. What proportion of traffic shouldyou be getting from Facebook? What is normal?

One Shareaholic report said that 24% of all referrals on the web come from Facebook. Which is huge. And seeing as Shareaholic has a sample size of over 300,000 websites, that’s probably pretty reliable data right?

The point to keep in mind here though is that all those 300,000 websites in the sample are Shareaholic users. That means they chose to install the Shareaholic tool which tells you that they’re probably very much ‘into’ social media marketing.

So 24% is probably a somewhat high estimate for most of us. If your site is highly focused on social media then perhaps aim for 15-20%. Otherwise don’t worry too much if it’s a little less. Define Media Group for instance did another survey looking at their 87 major publishers and found that social only accounted for 16% of traffic, while search still provided 41% and direct gave 43%. Buzzfeed famously say they get all their traffic from Facebook and don’t even care about search but most analysts would probably doubt that claim – there’s a good chance they give SEO plenty of attention but that this simply isn’t what they want to promote publicly.

It’s also worth thinking about the quality of your traffic. The average pages that an average Facebook visitor will look at on your site is roughly one. Those coming from Google meanwhile will tend to visit 2-2.5 pages whereas direct visitors look at 3-5 pages.

The Power of Facebook

That’s not to say that Facebook is in any way ‘worthless’. Facebook still gets about 890 million active users a day and in 2011 there was apparently about 2 external clicks per user every day. Chances are that this has gone up since then to about 2-4 which means you might get about 1.8-3.6 billion referrals from Facebook daily. Google sends about 9-18 billion, making facebook around the second biggest place to capture potential visitors in the Australian market.

Moreover, Facebook is excellent as a tool for research and testing. Likes and shares are highly indicative of the type of content that performs well and you can use this data to determine the types of posts you need to be creating. This way you can find out what kind of content gets spread socially and more important – what kind of content gets read.

The Advice

So enough of the analysis, how do you start making real progress on Facebook? Here are some critical tips you should be following…

Make sure your Facebook audience matches your niche, industry and goals

This might sound obvious but it’s something that too many people miss in the bid to get pure numbers of followers, likes and shares.

Make sure that you have the right portion of Facebook users and more to the point, make sure that Facebook is the right place at all for your content. If you have a B2B business then you might struggle to find the right users on Facebook. LikedIn could well be a better platform.

Learn what works on Facebook in your niche and industry

You can find powerful tools to help you do this, including one called BuzzSumo. With BuzzSumo you can type in keywords and see which content is performing really well at the moment/over the last 6-12 months. This way you can create similar content of your own that’s almost guaranteed to do well in your niche.

Track carefully

Any webmaster should know the importance of tracking referrals to see what’s working. The same goes for Facebook and simply knowing that your hits came from ‘Facebook’ is not enough – you need to know which precise post was the one that brought you the traffic so that you can make more content like that.

Understand the importance of headlines

One of the big secrets to BuzzFeed’s enormous success is its smart use of ‘clickbait’ titles. These are the titles that you just can’t help but click because they’re so effective at arousing your curiosity/righteous indignation or whatever else. Now that isn’t to say you should necessarily do the same thing precisely as these titles can undermine credibility. But do recognize that often the title is actually more important than the content. Note in particular that any particularly juicy information should be alluded to right there in the heading rather than just using a generic title.

And the importance of visual content

As with titles, images are also super important. Visuals have consistently outperformed non-visual content ever since we got high-speed internet connections. Make sure you have big, interesting images that really sell the content you worked so hard to create.

Timing matters… but only somewhat

Timing does matter when you post on Facebook but not as much as you might admit. And what’s even more interesting is that it doesn’t matter quite as much as it once did. There are lots of different time zones around the world and improvements in algorithms dictating what gets shown account for this meaning that Facebook might save the best content for your homefeed the next day, even if it was posted at midnight.

Engagement, meanwhile, really matters

On the other hand, engagement is seriously important. That means that people need to be liking, sharing and commenting if Facebook is going to ensure the maximum number of visitors are seeing your content. And by all likelihood there’s also a ‘dwell’ metric, meaning that you’ll probably benefit from having people read your content for longer. If that’s true then it makes sense to increase your work count, as long as you maintain engagement throughout.

Brand page reach is stunted

Unfortunately that brand page you worked so hard on is somewhat limited in its potential. Algorithm updates have decreased the ‘organic reach’ your posts can achieve if you don’t pay but on the plus side this does ensure that Facebook isn’t completely swamped by content as it otherwise might be. That means that personal pages are more important than ever.

Traffic from Facebook has excellent ROI

No matter what we were saying earlier about the quality of Facebook traffic it does have great ROI. That’s why it’s actually worth paying to amplify the content you spread via your brand page. But it does also mean you need to ensure that your website or web page also has great ROI – which in turn means using effective persuasive language and selling a product or service that people actually want in the first place.

Facebook is hard to trick

Back in the good old days you could ‘game the system’ and achieve some impressive reach for your posts pretty much artificially thanks to various loopholes. These days though, getting your friends to like your content doesn’t have quite the same impact it once did. Again then, you need to get your content to spread organically with images and great titles and you need to consider paying to amplify what you post.

If you do this and you are careful to monitor your progress and performance, then you can gradually increase the number of likes and shares you get from your content. And ultimately this can also help you to learn more about other aspects of your marketing campaign too.

About Andrew H
Andrew is an account manager at Webfirm with special expertise in SEO, PPC and data analysis. Developing digital marketing strategies is his bread and butter!