When it comes to the long-term traffic potential of marketing strategies, content marketing and SEO will usually offer you the biggest return on your investment. They naturally lend themselves to compounding returns over time, and have virtually no risk—as long as you execute them correctly. However, there’s one major disadvantage to these strategies; theytake a long time to set up and start returning a positive ROI. Building SEO momentum takes months or years, and when you’re launching a new site, you want traffic fast. So what do you do if you want to get traffic fast? There are a few options, each with advantages and disadvantages. These are some of the outright fastest: 1. Guest Post. Guest posts serve multiple functions, but there are two which make them a selling point for those after fast gains. First, guest posts connect you with authorities who already have established audiences. Take TechCrunch as an example—its readership is in the millions, so if you can get your brand featured there, you can lean on that visibility. Unfortunately, the more visible the publisher, the harder it is to get featured, so set your sights on something smaller to start. The second selling point is the possibility for direct traffic; as long as your content is authoritative and valuable, you’ll wind up with a strong flow of users to your site. Plus, as a long-term advantage, guest posts will help you in both content marketing and SEO—because of that, it’s my favorite of the five on this list. For help getting started with guest posts, see The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging. 2. Build Your Social Media Audience. Social audience building can be unpredictable, but if you have your priorities in order, it’s an effective and fast way to scale your potential user base. Here’s why: on social media, you can engage with users publicly and directly. You can use content to start attracting an audience naturally, or ads (more on those in a moment) to funnel traffic directly, but more importantly, you can actually engage with people. When you engage with social users—by liking or sharing their posts, or just by engaging them in conversation—you introduce them to your brand. It takes some upfront work, but in a matter of weeks you could theoretically build an audience of thousands to serve as a platform for even further growth. Here are some resources for how to get more social media followers: 3. Leverage Influencers. Remember what I said about high-profile publishers being a shortcut to a wider audience? Influencers basically work the same way, except you’ll be engaging with an individual rather than hosting your client on an external site. You can find influencers in your industry by crawling the social media world or finding one through search. From there, you’ll need to build a relationship, which could involve sharing their work, asking them questions, or otherwise showing them you’re interested in their work. From there, they might share your content on their own, or you could ask them for an interview opportunity for mutual visibility—just stay respectful of their time and don’t ask for free publicity directly. If successful, you’ll instantly gain an audience of thousands, and from there, you can continue to nurture the relationship or find new influencers to tap as resources. 4. Use Paid Ads. Paid advertising is my least favorite of the strategies listed here, but it’s an important option to mention. Why is it my least favorite? Because it has the lowest long-term potential. You’ll pay upfront for a guaranteed stream of inbound traffic to your site, which may be valuable, but once you withdraw that budget, the ads are turned off and your stream becomes defunct. I like to compare it to building equity in a home vs. paying rent. Compare that to something like influencer leveraging, which gives you a new relationship to draw upon in your industry, or social marketing, where your audience sticks around (practically) forever. Advertising is a good strategy that’s both fast and profitable, but it just doesn’t have the potential growth or gains that organic strategies offer. With that said, here are some good options for fast paid traffic: StumbleUpon ads Reddit ads Facebook ads Twitter ads LinkedIn ads Google Adwords Bing ads 5. Run Contests and Promotions. Contests and promotions are somewhat like paid advertising in the sense that you’ll have to make an upfront investment—usually in a hot consumer product, a gift card, or something similarly valuable. Then, you ask your users to engage in some behavior to be entered into the contest (such as liking or sharing your post on social media). Contests are powerful because they naturally spread themselves—users like to share these opportunities, and it’s a good way to get widespread visibility quickly. You might even have a long-term benefit if the social users who engage with your contest end up following your brand. The key is to find the right contest—one that’s original, valuable, and interesting to your key demographics. Remember that “fast” traffic isn’t always good traffic, and it doesn’t always mean you’re getting a good return on your investment. When it comes to the long-term return on every dollar spent, SEO and content marketing beat paid advertising almost every time (assuming proper strategic positioning). Think of it like buying seeds to grow your own vegetables versus buying the vegetables directly from the store; with the right time and care, your garden will return far more riches to your initial investments, but sometimes you need a shortcut to tide you over. Try to keep these short-term methods in balance with your long-term strategies to reap the benefits of both.