Let me have a disclaimer to start with. In this article, I am going to talk about increasing US traffic to only those websites featuring generic or niche content that appeals to all geographies. Hence, if you have a blog that deals with very specific local content (e.g. Local news, local reviews etc) or non-international topics, you may want to skip this post.
Why is web traffic from the United States important?
There are some real good reasons for webmasters’ affinity towards website traffic from the US or Canada. Firstly, the EPC (Earnings Per Click) from ads or affiliate banners is much higher for traffic from these big North American countries where the online market opportunity is huge. Further, advertisers would like blogs if they have more visits from this region and many a time it is even an acceptance criterion for your blog to be accepted by many advertising agencies.
Yet another reason in favor of US traffic is that most blog statistics and authority check tools consider or give more weightage to US bound traffic. So if you want to be in the good books of Alexa, Compete etc, the amount of US traffic that you get matters a lot.
Now, let’s come back to the topic of the day i.e. How to get more traffic from the American region – be it organic traffic or social media/referral traffic.
10 Tips to get more US traffic
Some of the points shared below are kind of mandatory to generate decent traffic from the US geography while some are those tweaks that I learned from my blogging experience.
Let’s start with the most basic requirement in this context which is the domain name itself.
1. Go for a .COM gTLD
Even before talking about traffic boosting, you need to make sure that your domain name should be something that is universal enough to get a multi-geographic target. Your best bet to receive traffic from multiple locations (including US traffic) is a .COM domain name. Now, depending on the nature of your business, it can be .NET (more of community stuff) or a .ORG (non-profit organizations, societies etc) in that order but a .COM is the most preferred one.
Having said that, if you are a US citizen or US based organization, then a .us country code Top Level Domain name is not a bad idea either. However, the traffic to that kind of domain will be only US (mainly) and that can backfire too as search engines like Google at times force-reduces the priority of such sites in other geographies. Needless to say, going for any other ccTLD (such as .ae, .in, .br etc) is an absolute NO if you want US traffic.
By the way, a .us domain name can be registered with only US citizens or organizations or businesses that have a footprint in the US.
2. Register domain names with a US Address
Another complementing point to the first tip is to have your domain names registered with a valid US address. This seems to be one of the several parameters that decide where the website is located and hence location relevancy. Well, this is not something that’s always possible but in today’s world of cross-location partnerships and collaboration, anything is possible right?
I have experimented enough with addresses (until recently where ICANN started enforcing stricter rules) on domain names and found that anything that’s registered under a US address gets more US traffic than other sites.
3. MUST: Get a US based Hosting service
Site load speed is one of the several parameters in deciding Google ranks and this is true in the context of Geographic traffic as well. Since websites hosted in the same region will (normally) have fast DNS lookup speed, they tend to rank better with localized hosting. In addition, if you go for a Content Delivery Network (CDN), you need to make sure that they have more mirroring options local to the US as well.
4. Content should have more US relevant information and must use US English
I had a blog on daily tips (DailyTipsBlog.com) that I sold very recently. When I created that blog two years back, I took care of all the above points (i.e. TLD, Whois address, Hosting, Topics handled and English variant used) and it had 80-85% of its traffic generating from US searches and referrals. I didn’t use my name anywhere on that blog till during handover to the buyer.
By the way, having US relevant topics alone is not enough. What I noticed from numerous content experiments is that even using relevant names (e.g. Places in the US) and statistics (Fed stats, unemployment statistics, crash reports) that are very specific to that region helps in ranking better and hence generating more visitors from there.
5. Geo-targeting in Webmaster Tools
This is a no-brainer. Geo targeting the US as a country is one of the easiest ways of telling Google that your customers and readers are mainly in the US. Again this is very specific to Google alone and hence affects only the organic traffic.
While this setting focuses more on the US search traffic, it doesn’t guarantee any drastic improvement. Also, it can have a negative impact on the site traffic from other relevant countries as well (e.g. UK or Canada that are well sought after traffic sources as well)
6. Be active on US forums, blogs and news sites while linking back
Getting backlinks from US websites (blogs, forums, news sites, Yahoo answers, Classifieds etc) pointing to your blog matters a lot not just for referral traffic but also for search ranking purposes as well.
On a related note, you must avoid buying cheap seo services that create thousands of backlinks from spammy or inactive websites from various regions (Remember the Russian Link Network that Google has started busting recently?)
7. List on US based blog directories
This again is related to the backlinks topic. Before submitting your blog or website to any directory services, you have to make sure that they are based in the US and mainly include websites in that region. Even better if you can make sure that in those directories, you are surrounded by sites that are good and US based at the same time
8. Your neighborhood matters!
Just like your incoming links, your outbound links are important as well. Basically, you have to make sure that the right kind of people from the right geographies are commenting on your blog in order to keep your neighborhood clean and focused on where you want traffic from. This may sound harsh especially on blogs but a must to indicate the search engines about your whereabouts and intentions.
9. Mind your Social Signals
It’s good to keep a tab on who shares your content and on what kind of forums and social networks. Remember, the social signals are one of the major parameters that the search engines give weightage to in order to decide ranking and even geographical relevance. The more shares you get in your targeted region, the better!
10. Buy leads from the US region
Another way to get highly targeted traffic is to build an email list very specific to the US region. This is a tricky affair as you have to ask your subscribers to input their country or city as well which can in turn reduce signup rate.
An easier way is to buy targeted leads to kick-start your email marketing campaigns. However, unlike the other points, this may turn out to be an expensive affair.
The most important point in order to get targeted traffic is related to the content itself. Unless you have highly relevant content that has a value proposition story for your targeted geography, none of the above tips is going to do any good to you – no matter how hard you try.
Over to you: Do you have any specific tips to share in order to get more US traffic?