In the world of blogging, some sites can send you big bursts of traffic—but how much does that traffic help your business? The truth is, not all traffic is valuable traffic, and the key to building your blog is cultivating the right kind. So instead of focusing on sheer numbers, focus on cultivating sources of qualified traffic, the kind that does matter.
Let’s take a look at ways to evaluate your traffic sources, as well as tips for using that information to shape your blog marketing plan!
Types of Traffic Sources
Peeking inside your Google analytics account will give you details about your traffic sources—but first, here’s a look at how to understand what they are.
1. Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is the traffic that comes to your site directly, with a user typing your url into their Web browser.
How helpful is it? Generally speaking, direct traffic is reliable traffic—people who come to your site directly already know something about your blog and what it offers, or they’ve been told about it via word-of-mouth or email by someone else who does. They come bringing at least some level of interest and knowledge in what you do.
When a user types terms into a search engine and clicks your blog in the search results, that’s what’s called search traffic.
How helpful is it? Most search traffic is targeted, as users are finding your blog by typing in specific keywords that connect to your blog’s content. The thing to look at here is what keywords are leading to your site—are they the most relevant ones possible? This information can help inform your search marketing campaigns.
When another website, blog or social media outlet links to your blog, the traffic that link brings to your site is called referral traffic—since someone else is referring users to your blog.
How helpful is it? The value of referral traffic depends, in large part, on the source. Relevant sites will bring traffic more likely to convert and/or stay long-term; unrelated sites may send bursts of traffic, but they won’t mean as much.
Campaign traffic is traffic brought about through your own marketing efforts, whether email marketing, Feedburner or something else.
How helpful is it? Because your campaign is by nature targeted, the traffic that comes through this source is beneficial.
Strategic Marketing Techniques
Once you have an understanding of the different traffic sources, what can you do to cultivate the best quality? Here are a few tips:
Optimize Your Blog for Search
The majority of website traffic comes from big search engines—that means high ranks in search engines for targeted keywords will bring in the best quality traffic. There are many ways to boost your search engine optimization (SEO), but here are a few keys.
- Links from related sites: Look for ways to cultivate relationships with other bloggers in order to draw their interest and get them reading/linking to your site. Once you have a decent number of links from related blogs or websites, you’ll start getting decent traffic.
- Create strong blog posts and pages: The more valuable content you post, the more opportunities there are for your content to come up in search results. Likewise, blogs with over 1,000 pages attract more traffic than blogs with 20. Keep adding new content and you’ll see your search results improve.
- PPC: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a form of search marketing that relies on paid ads that come up on search results pages, relevant to users’ queries. While this approach can be very effective, it’s crucial that you monitor the progress of your ads in order to avoid overspending.
Work Social Media to Your Advantage
The reason so many bloggers and businesses are active on social media is simple: it works. Building community on these networks can be an excellent way to generate traffic and word-of-mouth publicity for your site.
- Be active: Consistently engage with your audience in social media to reap the greatest benefits. Also, be active on the networks where your target audience already gathers.
- Promote others: Blog readers like generosity—promote other sites and their posts to prove yourself interesting and worthy of following.
- Promote your posts: Don’t overdo it, but highlighting your own content, news, updates, etc., can be very effective at drawing readers to your blog. Tweet and update your Facebook page status when a new post publishes. Tell readers about changes happening at your site. As an added bonus, the viral nature of these networks makes it easy for followers to promote your content, too.
- Create Shareable Content: Certain types of content lend themselves more easily towards sharing—work to make your content the kind that visitors will pass along. Whether it’s stories that strike a chord, photos that are crisp and beautiful, infographics that clarify stats or something else, target your content towards those readers who will want to share it.
Make it very easy for visitors to opt in for your blog posts, whether through an RSS subscription, an email subscription or signing up for your newsletter. Have this call-to-action front and center, prominent, so it’s easy for readers to respond. Increased subscribers means increased quality traffic, as they return again and again when new posts publish.
Using the information above should give you a powerful jumpstart in solidifying your marketing plan as it relates to traffic—but what other advice have you seen to be helpful? How do you go about finding quality traffic?