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October 10, 2007

Bringing Qualified Traffic to Your Site

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This just in: Reaching the top of TechMeme does not a search engine optimization campaign make. I know, shocking.

The Guardian’s Bobbie Johnson started an important conversation late last night, blogging that despite the fact that "all that Valley-centric news junkies claim Techmeme as a crucial aggregator, it simply doesn’t refer much traffic.” And even if the cases where aggregator sites like TechMeme or social sites like Digg do generate traffic, it’s typically not long lasting.

Nick Carr, Robert Scoble and plenty of others all agreed with Bobbie’s statement.

TechWag actually summed this up nicely in a post about the end of TechMeme, saying:

"Sorry folks, to get traffic, you still have to rely on search engines, you still have to write about what people want to read about, and you are going to have to deal with the realities. Digg folks spend maybe 30 seconds on your site, Propeller folks spend a minute (what does that say about the user population at Digg verses Propeller?), and Google folks spend a minute and a half on the site."

Hear that? Regardless of how popular social media is, it’s still no substitute for a real search engine optimization campaign. It’s the engines that are going to bring you the bulk of your traffic, not viral campaigns.

I’m not saying that social media can’t be an important part of your optimization campaign, or that you should ignore it, but it definitely shouldn’t represent the entirety of your optimization efforts. Social sites are not known for bringing qualified traffic to your Web site. Sure, if you’re luckily enough to get yourself on Digg or Reddit, you may get a ton of traffic but the impact is relatively short lived. Those visitors aren’t going to stick around to read your blog or be a returning customer. The users who found you via StumbleUpon were never actually interested in you to begin with. They just…stumbled upon you one day.

This harsh truth is why so much of a search engine optimization campaign is based around effective keyword research. This is what is going to bring qualified visitors onto your site. People who are interested in what you’re about and have a use for the service you provide. These are the people you want to take and convert in to being lifelong friends.

This is why it’s so important to create an accurate keyword list. You want to make sure you are targeting the terms users are actually going to type into their search box. You have to know the difference between shopping terms and researching terms. You have to know who your audience is and what they’re vocabulary is. And once you do have your terms, you have to make sure you’re using them in all the right areas of your site, like in your Title tags, Meta Description tags, Headings, on-page text content, etc.

This is how you’re going to find the visitors who will eventually turn out to be lifelong friends. It’s like real life — you have to find the people who generally like you, not the ones who only give you the time of day when you have really cool concert tickets to show off.

Bobbie’s post serves as a good reminder that even in the age of social media, true search engine optimization is still king. It’s not just about getting users to visit your site; it’s about getting the right users to visit. Lookie-loos are fun, but it’s the qualified visitors who will take that extra step and convert.

If you need some help figuring out which terms your site should be targeting, I humbly offer up our article on Five Steps to Effective Keyword Research, as well as this post by Hamlet Batista. Steven Bradley also had a great post the other day on a somewhat related topic. His post entitled Can You Be Found Where People Are Looking is definitely worth a read through.





One response to “Bringing Qualified Traffic to Your Site”

  1. Jon Kelly writes:

    right on, Lisa. Intent is king and social media users are not generally in a “buying” mode. Curious, maybe, but not nearly as qualified as someone who has typed in one of your best phrases and chosen your site.



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