If you want to grow your business online (and, increasingly, offline), you have to drive different types of traffic to your website or landing page

You have to compel that web traffic to take action — download a lead magnet, click a button, maybe make a purchase. 

And you have to continue to nurture that web traffic until leads convert into repeat customers and high-value sales. 

So, it’s sensible that one of the first things business owners do when launching their online business is rush to get eyeballs on their websites. The only problem?

Growing your web traffic can be a frustrating and arduous process. You’ve got confusing search algorithms. Time-consuming content creation. Social media accounts that demand high-quality video content and paid media campaigns that require costly investments. 

The good news is that you don’t need to drive every type of traffic to your website all at once. 

So, how do you get more targeted eyeballs on your website to grow online?

The 5 types of web traffic (and how to build each one)

There are five major types of web traffic. Let’s explore how to build each one effectively. 

1. Direct web traffic 

Think about an (online) brand that you adore. What do you do when you want to purchase or learn about their new offerings? If you’re like me, you type their URL in your browser and navigate straight to their website. 

This is direct web traffic. And, as the name suggests, it includes any time a visitor lands directly on your website instead of clicking through from another source or site. 

As you build your brand and customer loyalty, you’ll naturally grow your direct web traffic. 

Your word-of-mouth marketing and offline campaigns also impact your direct traffic. If you invest in analogue marketing or word-of-mouth referrals, these prospects will likely navigate directly to your website. 

How to grow direct web traffic:

  • Cultivate a referral program (build your word-of-mouth marketing)
  • Use these tips to boost brand awareness
  • Keep your website URLs (and brand name) simple and easy to remember
  • Improve customer loyalty to encourage repeat purchases

2. Organic search traffic

Searching for a new recipe. Finding a dentist near you. Looking up the answers to last night’s trivia questions. Can you count the times you hop on Google daily to get the information you need? I sure can’t.

Whenever someone navigates to your website from Google (or any other search engine), you get organic search traffic to your site.

What’s the difference between organic search and direct when it comes to types of web traffic? Organic search is traffic from search engines, while direct traffic occurs when people go straight to your URL. 

Organic traffic is highly valuable to your business because it means you’re showing up where people are already searching for your product or offer. Improve your ranking and visibility, and you’ll connect to more prospects.

Or, as Brian Clark from Copyblogger says, “If you’re not showing up during the prospect’s self-determined buying journey, you’re not in the game.”

How to get in the game with organic search traffic:

3. Referral traffic

Next up on types of web traffic is referral. You get referral traffic whenever someone clicks on a link that takes them to your website.

For example, if you publish a guest article on a third-party source with a link to your website, any clicks on this link would count as referral traffic. Email marketing is another common source of referral traffic. Anytime you send an email with a link to your website, you’re referring traffic to your domain. 

Referral traffic from trusted sources is an excellent way to drive qualified leads to your site — prospects who will be more willing to buy from you because they already have confidence in the referee. 

How to improve referral web traffic:

  • Invest in your email database
  • Build buzz with PR for startups
  • Look for smart opportunities for guest posting (trusted, authoritative sites with loyal followers)

4. Organic social traffic

When I talk about organic social web traffic, I mean any traffic that comes to your website from social media (not including paid social.)

I’ve said it before: If you want to build your business, build a community around your brand. In other words, don’t sleep on social media when it comes to organic traffic sources. 

I’m not talking about silly social trends or TikTok dances. These fads will come and go. Find out where your target audience is engaging on social media and create valuable, interesting content that resonates with them. 

You’ll create a community that goes beyond selling — one that provides value and connection to your customers — and send high-value, top-of-the-funnel leads to your website. 

How to improve organic social web traffic:

  • Post regularly to key social media platforms
  • Don’t get distracted by trends
  • Consider a Facebook group strategy
  • Optimise your social media profiles with links to strategic landing pages

5. Paid traffic 

Until now, we’ve focused on organic types of web traffic.

Now, creating compelling cross-platform content on your website, social media platforms, and third-party sites certainly works.

But it takes time to see results. 

What do you do when you need traffic and customers now

You invest in paid web traffic. 

Paid traffic applies to visitors who land on your website after clicking on a paid ad (either on search, social or other websites.) 

Yes, paid traffic sources are an investment. But with the right strategy, digital ad campaigns give you more control over the targeted traffic you direct to your website. 

How to improve paid traffic:

  • Include paid ads in your startup marketing
  • Keep your landing page branding consistent with ad copy and design.
  • Obsess over your numbers and analytics
  • Test multiple audiences and channels

So, which types of web traffic should you invest in if you want to grow online? Here’s what I suggest:

Don’t try to master every type of web traffic right out of the gate. Begin with one or two. Master these. Then add additional traffic pillars as you grow your business. 

As mentioned above, organic traffic sources take time to generate results. Include these traffic sources in your mid-to long-term traffic acquisition strategy. In the meantime, invest in direct and paid traffic sources to get more customers now.