Deepen Your Digital Footprint: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide To Increasing Online Traffic and Web Presence

This is the blog post version of the free eBook of the same name found here for download.

I am an educator so all of the research you'll find here is about promotion that works for those in my field, sharing their work for free.

I have broken it into ten sections as follows:

1. Have something to say

2. Start a blog

3. Use the power of Facebook

4. Twitter: This is the big one

5. LinkedIn

6. YouTube/Vimeo

7. Slideshare

8. Synergy

9. Tags: Make the "Hit" Parade

10. Thinking of paying for it?

1. Have Something to Say

I suppose this might sound rather simplistic but think about it for a second. How much time do you spend searching for valuable resources and information online? How fast do you make a decision about how valuable a site you happen across is?

In order to make a meaningful contribution you need not invent a better mousetrap. Few people ever will. You do need to have your own voice, however, and share something positive if you wish to appeal to those other educators (or other potential audience members) out there who are looking to learn, share, network and feedback.

My own biggest success story (though I am certainly no Sal Khan) is my website. I made it in order to share all that I had learned through the first four courses in my Master’s study of ICT integration across the curriculum. I wanted to make it a repository to use when training others but also to make it available, free online to reach the widest audience possible. If you have ever been there you will see immediately how it is a collection of not just mine but the work of many other people. It is a collation and a distillation of what I feel will give newcomers a solid base of understanding in my field.

It has helped keep my Master’s blog alive, make it a more high traffic spot than ever actually, and start a membership at the giveitawaydotcom wiki where others are joining up to share their own work. So yes, have something to say, share your own views but feel free to share the views of others also. This is part and parcel of a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

2. Blog

You need a blog if you want to create a significant digital footprint. A blog is just a website devised in such a way as to have your most recent posts (articles and thoughts you have shared online) organized chronologically with the latest on top. They can have categories to further organize your musings if you like and can be customized (or not) with a variety of widgets (things that

you can click/drag to add and do cool stuff like add a Twitter feed), slideshow options (another widget), add your own unique banner image at the top of your pages and, well, there are tons of these out there.

I use WordPress but you could try BloggerTumblr… there are a variety of free and paid services to choose from. Blogging is a fantastic way to get your feet wet, start learning, starting your forum and use later a base for all of your interconnected online creations. All of them, when linked, will feed off each other making it easy to find you online (your digital footprint) and will help increase your traffic and “hits.” Be honest about what you know. There are plenty of know-it-all “experts” out there already. Being yourself will win you readers who are interested in learning along with you or joining your Personal Learning Network.

3. Use the power of Facebook

Do you have a Facebook account? There are arguments for and against having one, most of which having to do with tolerance for loss of privacy. If you have one, you can set your blog to automatically add links to your blog posts or add them yourself as you make them. Facebook has surprised me sometimes with the amount of traffic it has produced for me.


4. TwitterThis is the BIG one
Use Twitter as part of your PLN and share what you have made. Twitter is huge and there are some monster tweeters out there (tweeters who apparently have the job of tweeting) but it never hurts to share. Even if no one clicks your link your tweets themselves become part of your digital footprint and gets your name out there.

Find like-minded people to follow and then check and follow who they are following. If you want a real "following" of your own be sure to share the work of others as well. Everyone hates a shameless self-promoter and will drop you like a hot stone. Set Twitter to notify you when someone new starts following you. Direct message them back thanking them for the “follow” and suggest they share a link to your blog (and everything else you will be creating through it) with other people they think might be interested.

Some lessons I have learned from Tweet experience
LESSON 1: People really will follow you back.

LESSON 2: By sending off a reply message to personalize the connection once I received a follow alert and asking to have my free tech website passed along, I had my first over 100 page view day since the add campaigns (explained below) ended, at only the cost of my time. (Granted I am starting to feel more comfortable referring to myself as a true geek and no longer just a wannabe so I kind of enjoyed it.)

LESSON 3: Those who use Twitter to share with growing audiences like to help others who are doing likewise and will share your stuff. Return the favour… retweet!

LESSON 4: Twitter has limits to how many people you are allowed to follow. Both daily and by some sort of admittedly (by them) undisclosed ratio of followers to "followees". I'd love to see the algorithm that makes this rational!

5. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is another example of a networking site (this one professional and thus highly recommended) with automatic notice options for your blogging (and indeed other) activity.

LinkedIn is another example of a networking site (this one professional and thus highly recommended) with automatic notice options for your blogging (and indeed other) activity.

6. YouTube it!
I made a YouTube promotional video to go along with my experiment in paid advertising. I included a final, extended slide at the end pointing out the links in the description underneath the video. You cannot link a video to a different sight as a clickable link but you can add links to other YouTube videos you have made to increase interest and traffic to your creations.

Put the link you want used at the very top of the details and it is visible even if your viewers don't extend the details information view.

Vimeo ditto: Vimeo is YouTube-like but more professionally oriented.

7. Slideshare it!
If you use Power Point or Keynote slides to produce a video, definitely use Slideshare (probably ISSU as well but I cannot yet speak from experience here). The Slideshare version of my school's promotional video and brochure are being outdone by far on the Slideshare site as compared to YouTube. The same rule about having the link prominently and initially displayed goes for this and all other examples. Interconnection is everything. BTW, there are way more ideas and resources on the site. If you've read this far you should probably go there.

8. Synergy
Hyperlink to everything you can and try to be as many places as possible. I use a number of websites on top of the online resources mentioned here that I have produced and, by design, they are all related to the same topic; integrating technology across the curriculum to enhance learning outcomes. If someone comes across one of my sites they can click a prominent link or button (also by design) and find me somewhere else.

In my efforts to link everything I have truly learned learned the power of this synergy. Inadvertently, the number of hits on my blog has taken off at a time when I anticipated a considerable decline as my captive audience (those required to read other cohorts’ blogs as part of our Master’s study) have no mandate to do so over the summer.

9. Tags: Make the "Hit" Parade
As you may or may not be aware, you can add "tags" to many of the creations you create online. Tags are words related to your work that help search engines (like Google or Yahoo) "find" it. Use as many as you can think of but be honest. There is no point in having people show up just to increase your bounce rate (the number of viewers who leave your site right away as they are clearly not interested).

10. Thinking of Paying for It?
I have experimented with Google AdWords and a YouTube ad campaign (same vendor now). For ¥ 11,380 JPY (about $140 USD at the time of writing) I received 184 new page views on the giveaway site in the two days it ran. I thought that was pretty good but, compared with the 203 page views I managed for free through Twitter and Facebook the week before it was pretty costly.

The Lesson: In the short term you can generate the same level of traffic if you are engaging with social media as you can paying for hits through AdWords. AdWords, however, will keep the hits alive while Twitter and Facebook have a short shelf life (2-3 days in this case).

The YouTube campaign was noteworthy for two reasons. The number of hits was amazing. The promotional video I made for the site, encouraging people to click the link to it at the top of the details box, went from 8 views to 2561 in two days at a cost of ¥4,236 ($50 USD). Very impressive. My account details further claimed that I had received 319 website clicks. This was the point here, to convert viewers of the video to consumers of the website. This is clearly the winner. 1/3 more hits for 1/3 of the cost.

It takes time but if traffic is what you're after follow this recipe and you WILL see an increase. I promise.



Sites and other digital creations:

Twitter: @seansensei

Free EdTech integration training site & repository:

Accompanying free resource wiki:

My HUB, where you can find most everything else:

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Tags: digital, footprint, online, presence, promote, publicize, traffic, web


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