Your body is a set of interconnected pieces. A hip out of alignment can cause pain in your knee, foot or even the opposite hip. While an ice pack or pain pill may address the superficial symptoms, a good doctor will look at the data and prescribe a specific course of action to address the root cause.

The same approach applies to web traffic tactics. It is easy when a company is feeling the pain of low web traffic to turn to Google Adwords as a cure for all that ails them. It makes make the pain go away, but it won’t always solve the real issue. Before reaching for Adwords, this doctor recommends diving in for a deeper look at the traffic data. You may find a more permanent solution with more targeted and less expensive strategies.

Finding a cure for what ails you should start with a diagnosis. It is not enough to look at your total traffic- that’s just a starting point. You need to dive in and look at each of your traffic sources individually. The way to improve results will vary for each one.

Direct Traffic

Google uses this term to describe when someone comes  to your website by typing your web address or URL into their browser. Companies with high brand awareness or a large customer base are likely to see a high percentage of the traffic come directly.

If you want to increase direct traffic to your website, you can’t do that online. Go out into the real world and build interest in your brand. Meet people, hand out your business card and mail a brochure or a letter which includes a link to your website. Include your web address in radio and print ads and on all communication with customers and prospects.

Organic Traffic

This is traffic which comes to your website as a result of someone searching on Google, or less likely Yahoo or Bing. If you want more organic traffic, you need to have more bait in the form of content which contains relevant key words. This doesn’t mean writing the same thing over and over again. Instead, write on a wide range of related topics which potential customers will stumble upon as they search the web.

There are two signs you are doing a good job with content. The first is an increase in your organic traffic. The second is that individual blog posts are among your most popular landing pages.

Referral Traffic

This is traffic which comes to your website from another website. While search engines don’t value links as highly as they once did in establishing your authority, a referral from another site still brings traffic.

To increase referral traffic, you need your site to be mentioned and listed on other websites with a link back to yours. Be sure to submit your site to relevant industry online directories and associations to which you belong.

Just like in the real world, if you want  referrals you need to “make friends.” Work with your referral partners to promote each other with links from listings or blog posts on each other’s sites. Submit articles and blog posts to industry websites and guest posts on partner blogs.

Social Traffic

Jarred wrote an entire post on the topic of social signals recently. While there is controversy as to whether search engines are evaluating social signals, there is no argument about the amount of traffic social media can drive to your website.

Want to increase traffic from social media? Don’t just post the same links over and over again hoping someone will notice. Get active. Share a range of information, including links to your site.

When you do share your links, don’t just say “New Post.” Tell the reader what they will learn if they click through.  Also expand your reach.  Don’t rely on only one platform. Mix it up, sharing links on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and from time to time Google+ and Tumblr or Pinterest.

Email Traffic

This is not traffic which comes from a link in a personal email. That is actually counted as part of direct traffic. This is the traffic which comes from your email newsletter. Not sending an email newsletter? You should be. In many cases, a solid permission based list will actually drive more traffic than social media.

If you want to grow this type of traffic, you need to grow your list. That does not mean adding every single person you meet to your list. But it does require a concerted effort to gather contacts and ask them if they want to be added.

A simple “Join Our Newsletter” button on your website won’t be enough to get someone to give you their email.  You have to give them a reason to enroll. Offer sign ups for monthly specials, new recipes or product previews.

The other part of the equation is good information in your newsletters with links to your website to drive more traffic.

When All Else Fails

Have you tried all of the above and you still aren’t happy with your web traffic?  Then it may be time for an investment in paid advertising. But even if you do buy Adwords, keep working on the other elements of content strategy for a truly healthy mix of web traffic.