Are You After Traffic or Visitors?
A while ago I have written a post about how you need to treat the people who visit your blog. My point was that treating people who visit your site like an amorphous mass of “traffic” is wrong.
I explained in more detail that you have to think about each and every person visiting your blog or site as an actual human being and guest. You have to be
Today I want to elaborate on the topic of traffic vs visitors and show you an example.
I’ve read some reports over the recent years that for many sites social media traffic is more important than search traffic now.
These reports are true but they don’t apply to all types of sites, countries, markets and topics. Some things work well on social media others don’t. Also social media algorithms throttle organic reach by now.
Did social media kill the search engine star?
Some website owners report that they get more visitors from Facebook than from Google. Think viral websites like BuzzFeed or ViralNova. Others report negligible numbers from social sites.
These numbers are highly subjective and depend on the market but I don’t want to argue with them here. My focus in this article is on the difference between the traffic and visitors metaphor.
Let’s take a look at the actual “traffic” coming from social sites.
I have been a staunch supporter of social media and its traffic a few years back. I was more than once arguing that social media traffic is the best around.
It’s still true in a sense but it depends on the goals of your site as suggested above. Ecommerce sales do not work well via social sites, Pinterest being the exception here.
Does social media yield low quality traffic?
For some use cases or types of sites the social media traffic is of low quality. What does traffic quality mean? Can you ascribe quality to actual people?
It means that the people who arrive via Facebook or Twitter are only slightly interested while searchers on the other hand are often highly determined to buy something.
One way to determine the quality of traffic is considering the bounce rate but it’s a fuzzy metric you can’t compare from site to site really.
Another way of finding out whether the traffic actually makes sense for you is the the average time on site as Google Analytics calls it. How long do your visitors actually stay on your site?
Well visitors from social media usually stay for mere seconds on SEO 2.0 according to Google Analytics even when they don’t bounce.
The number is even lower for some sites – think Reddit – while niche social communities can perform better because their members are already “qualified”.
Boring topics are not the problem
You could argue it’s my fault and social media users don’t care for search engine optimization and similarly boring topics.
Yet I had several viral posts on social media like Twitter and some of them are not even dealing with SEO. Many of them recently got updated.
What we see here is that these visitors are indeed traffic not guests, they don’t even drop in, they just move on. They pass your website while moving somewhere else.
Mere seconds are indeed abysmal, even on a blog like mine which gets lots of off topic traffic (Google Image search for instance). Other users, aka real visitors stay 10 times as long.
You should aim to get these real visitors not traffic that moves on.
People who stay in their car and just slow down without even leaving their car are not the perfect clients, unless you have a McDrive type of business.
I’d prefer to be a restaurant, not because my nick-name is Chef but because I want to offer my guest more and a better service instead of just getting the stink of the traffic exhausts and a few bucks.
Thus I ask you again: Are you after traffic or visitors? Do you want people to drive by your site, slow down a little and go on? Or do you want real visitors who stop by and stay for a while?
Last updated: November 1st, 2017. I rewrote the article, added a new image, new links and a current example.
Are You After Traffic or Visitors?…
treating blog visitors like an amorphous mass of “traffic” is wrong. You have to think about each and every person visiting your blog or site as an actual human being and guest….
A valid point, perhaps you could write a post on how to engage visitors and ensure that they stay and read the post rather than just bouncing out of the site/blog after a cursory glance?
That’s a great point and I think that one of the best ways to make sure you get visitors instead of just traffic is to make sure you stay focused on what your website is about.
The more content that you have regarding a specific target, the better search engines are at determining what your site is about and getting you relevant traffic, leading you to getting people from SU to classify your site properly and accurately, and leading to higher quality Stumbles.
StumbleUpon is an interesting beast. The UX encourages short visits. So going in you should know without a doubt that time on site is going to be miserable. (Remember also that Google can’t return an accurate time on site for those one page visits.)
But that’s just one part of the equation. As you run a StumbleUpon campaign (yes, they have a CPC program) you find that you’ll receive a sizable bump in direct traffic and branded search right after those Stumbles occur. I can count on this like clockwork.
StumbleUpon gives users a taste. It’s a way to introduce them to the site and/or brand. The goal is to make a big enough impression that they remember and come back on their own. That can be aided by making it easy for a user to bookmark pages they find interesting or just picking a page that is extremely compelling.
So from a session based perspective, StumbleUpon fails, but from a visitor based perspective I believe you need to look farther – and in that case I find StumbleUpon to be a bargain.
Does this mean “Content is King” still applies? Me thinkest it surely does! Get the Traffic….and keep the Visitor!
Excellent point Tad !
Carl: Good idea. I follow up on that.
Chris: True, on the other hand I’d focus even more on direct traffic, subscribers and reurning visitors. Cut out the middleman!
AJ: Thank you for the excellent advice on SU ads. As I don’t do PPC myself (100% organic SEO!) I didn’t know that.
mike: Yesm but here the voice and approach and the traffic sources are more important. Your king changes depending on the kingdom.
Although in my case study on StumbleUpon traffic I talk only about the traffic and visitors coming from StumbleUpon on the Motors articles, the objective of the campaign was not merely to get traffic.
The launch of this motors blog for Car enthusiasts needed an extra boost within that community.
StumbleUpon is a great tool to get certain content under the eyes of the people who really care. As Stumblers set up their personal preferences, only those who are interested in cars will get to the content.
Highly targeted to make them aware of new interesting content.
Thanks for the follow up post.
Dennis: How long did they stay? How many left instantly? Number of pageviews per visitor?
Even in case SU gets the category right, the traffic is far less targeted than we would like it to be.
I agree that stumbleupon does deliver more traffic to a site compared to facebook, but traffic coming from both social channels do have low conversions.
As to the point given, I personally target a specific traffic, so I guess I’m aiming for “visitors”, since I want activity than just a lone traffic clicking on ads.
onreact, I have to keep myself from spending hours diving into every little GA metric, but in general, I want visitors who convert!
I monitor time on site, and I value the metric, but I also think that searchers are better in general at picking out the information they need. They scan and quickly decide if they want to move on or do nothing else (I also monitor bounce rate). So while I love to searchers spend a minute each reading a page because I spent so much time writing it, I’m happier if the searchers got the information they wanted and converted.
Goal tracking is my most important metric. If we set up the goals and we see that they fill out the forms, request the white paper, or click to contact, we’re getting the result we most want.
Great points. Visitors (people that are actually looking for your product or service) are certainly more important than traffic. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your content is written for them. If it’s not, there won’t be a conversion, which is generally the point of a site anyway.
Interesting article… I would much rather like visitors than traffic.
Why don’t more bloggers ask themselves this question…rather than how many followers I can get?…how much money can I make? Or, why didn’t someone say this before. Well, giant brains, you should have thought about this before you started your blog, “Read Me and Grow Rich” You should only blog if you respect your readers and can give them information, entertainment or a different slant on life. Excellent post.
I am not with the traffic or visitor. I am always with the customer who can be a visitor or traffic.
Really worth reading in true sense. You need to attract visitors who will value your content.
Everyone here is looking for visitors not traffic, I am still really unsure how much traffic that SU gets us are related in SEO though. But yes SU does provide VISITORS.