Are you having trouble driving traffic to your vape shop or e-cigarette website? Of course you are. Since almost no one wants your advertising dollars, promoting an e-cigarette website is one of the most difficult feats in online marketing. eCig One is one of the Internet’s most visited e-cigarette websites, and we are very proud to say that we have gotten to where we are without buying links or violating Google’s other webmaster guidelines.
We’ve watched one competitor after another pop up and attempt to game the system, only to disappear a few months later after getting slapped by Google — but we are still here.
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy…
We receive thousands of visits each day, but maintaining a steady traffic flow has never been easy. It’s easy to become complacent when things are going well — something that we realized we were doing when our traffic entered a period of steady decline last year. Posting a new article occasionally was no longer enough to keep the traffic flowing in. We needed to make some major changes. Ultimately, those changes doubled our traffic in 6 months.
One of the most frustrating things that you can experience as a website owner is a long, steady decline in traffic — or not having any traffic to begin with. We successfully reversed a negative trend and doubled our traffic, and the steps that we used can help you do the same. This is exactly how we did it.
We’re here to help
We Upgraded Our Web Host
We know that Google considers website speed a ranking factor, but people disagree about its importance. Our experience suggests that speed becomes an important factor in competitive industries in which many websites potentially deserve top rankings.
The peril of choosing the wrong hosting company
We stuck with our original hosting company until late 2016. We did everything possible to optimize our website’s code, but there was nothing that we could do to resolve the fundamental problem: an extremely long time to first byte. No matter what we did, our web host took more than two seconds to deliver the first byte of content to every user. Most users expect a page to load completely in two seconds or less! The host also experienced frequent outages and crumbled under the slightest hint of a heavy traffic load.
We don’t like to badmouth companies. Suffice it to say that if you own a website, you’ve probably heard of our previous web host. They’re quite popular.
Changing hosts led to an immediate traffic increase
We switched to A2Hosting in late 2016, and we have been extremely happy with the change. A2 offers solid-state storage for all customers, and their speed enhancements actually work. After the switch, our time to first byte immediately improved to less than half a second. Now, our website loads fully for most users in less than two seconds!
Does improving your website’s speed really lead to more traffic? It did for us. Take a look at the image below, courtesy of Alexa. You can see an immediate bump after we changed hosting companies near the end of 2016.
We Refreshed Our Aging Content
This year is the fifth anniversary of eCig One. Having a solid library of informational content is one of the best ways for any website to attract traffic from search engines, and we focused much of our energy on informational content when this website was new. After five years, though, some of that content was very out of date. We had articles, for example, explaining how to clean an eGo-T e-cigarette and how to know when it’s time to replace your 510 or L88 atomizer. Those articles still generated traffic, but the information wasn’t relevant to most visitors because it described technology that no one uses today.
If your website has been around for a while, you probably have some old content as well. The content may even generate traffic from Google. If your articles provide outdated information, though, the traffic that the articles generate will have no value because relevance is what keeps people on your website.
Your old content still has value
An old article that still generates traffic is like an untapped gold mine. If you give the article a facelift and make the information relevant again, you can instantly begin capitalizing on a traffic source that’s essentially dead to you right now. We approached our content refresh project with the goal of transforming articles that were just good enough to generate traffic into articles that were the best resources on their subjects available anywhere. Those older articles now attract more comments, more links and more social shares.
Don’t forget that Google loves it when you refresh your old content. If you change an article so significantly that you’ve effectively created something new, don’t forget to change the publication date.
We Created High-Value New Content
Do you think that your website has great content? Are you sure? Take a look at this image, courtesy of QuickSprout:
The evidence suggests that Google favors very long, very detailed articles that describe their topics fully. During our content refresh, we decided that we would strive to make each new piece of content the best article on its topic available anywhere online. With content, there is no such thing as “good enough.” You can make your content the best around, or you can forget your goal of significantly increasing your web traffic.
Some of our recent projects include:
- E-Cigarette Explosions: Comprehensive List (16,000+ words)
- Best E-Cigarettes: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide (14,000+ words)
- Sub-Ohm Vaping Demystified: Ultimate Guide (11,000+ words)
Each of these projects required days — sometimes weeks — of work, but you won’t find anything more informative elsewhere.
We Launched an Outreach Campaign for Link Earning
Google uses inbound links to determine a website’s trust level. If a website has many inbound links from high-quality websites, Google’s algorithm concludes that the website is probably worthy of a high ranking. Quality content alone isn’t enough to double your vaping website’s traffic — you need to have the quality and the inbound links.
Some e-cigarette websites have tried to get links the easy way
You’ve probably seen more than a few e-cigarette websites that have somehow managed to get top rankings on Google with mediocre content. No one links to mediocre content willingly, though — those websites got to where they were because their owners bought links. If you buy links, you can often increase your website’s traffic for a while. Google’s algorithm is designed to catch people who are attempting to game the system, though, and it gets a little smarter every day. Eventually, the cheaters are always found and penalized.
Outreach for link earning takes time, but the rewards are lasting
How can you earn inbound links without violating Google’s webmaster guidelines? You need to have great content, and you need to tell people about it. We found websites that would benefit from linking to content like ours, and we contacted them. It really is that simple.
For a link earning campaign to work, your content really has to be exceptional. Even then, many website owners won’t respond to you. After all, few website owners are interested in modifying their old content to add a link. Every response that you receive can have a very positive effect on your vaping website’s traffic, though, so the effort is worthwhile.
We Improved the eCig One User Experience
When a website has a lot of content, one of the biggest difficulties that website will face is creating a navigation system that helps users find what they want easily. We’re not UI/UX experts at eCig One, but one thing we know for sure is that minimalism always helps. The more unimportant navigation items that you can eliminate, the more likely it will become that your users will click the items you’d like them to click. We improved our website’s navigational structure by removing unnecessary distractions and calling as much attention as possible to the most important content.
We Concentrated on Attracting Repeat Traffic
Branding is another difficult problem for all websites. Most website visits are very short, and you have a limited time to present a memorable experience that etches your website’s name in visitors’ minds. Providing great content is one aspect of building brand awareness. The second aspect is doing anything that you can — without detracting from the experience of visiting your website — to capture visitors’ contact information and stay in touch with them.
Email gives you unrestricted access to your audience
To further the goal of establishing a way to communicate reliably with the people who visit eCig One, we set up a mailing list and used a variety of promotional techniques to attract 1,000 subscribers in just 3 months.
The link above describes in detail what we did to grow our mailing list. The most important tip that you can gain from that article, though, is that people love to get things for free. We partnered with some of the world’s leading e-cigarette companies to arrange massive giveaways — including a very large one for the holiday season — that coincided with those companies’ own promotions.
What can you learn from our experience? Offering free products is a great way to attract subscribers to your mailing list. If you time a giveaway to coincide with a great sale, though, you give website visitors a reason to browse your products as well. After all, most of the people who sign up for a giveaway won’t win it. If your sale is good enough, many of the people who sign up for the giveaway will seriously consider buying to avoid missing the deals.
Conclusion: Generating Traffic for a Vaping Website Takes Time
Building an e-cigarette website that generates consistent traffic is extremely difficult because you can’t simply use advertising to buy your way through the slow periods. Search engines like Google and social media websites like Facebook forbid tobacco advertising, and they lump e-cigarette companies together with tobacco companies. If you want to generate traffic for your vaping website, you’ll have to do it on your own. Our technique boils down to just a few steps. They aren’t overly complex, but they do take a great deal of time and energy.
- Your content needs to be great, and you need to evaluate it honestly. If you don’t believe that an article is the best one about its topic anywhere on the Internet, it’s probably not good enough.
- Your website needs inbound links. If you write truly world-class content, people will find out about it — but outreach always helps.
- You need access to your customers. If you can communicate with your customers, you can bring them back to your website. Social media is good for communication, but social media services can control your level of access to your followers. Email is better.
- You need to give website visitors a great experience. Having a logical navigation structure, great typography and a fast web host all contribute to an excellent overall experience — one that keeps people on your website longer and generates sales.
Headline image courtesy of Lubomir Walter.