Quality Traffic? Treat Your Readers Like Human Beings

A red carpet covers broad stairs at a museum in Geneva, Switzerland. It looks inviting.

Orwellian Newspeak is everywhere nowadays. We speak about

  • “collateral damage”
  • “ethnic cleansing”
  • “human resources”

In search marketing we have also terms like these. You probably use them all the time!

Are You Low or High Quality?

Quality traffic is an abominable term which for most marketers means something like visitors who are interested in your subject matter.

It’s the people who stay on your site for a while and at best buy something. “Nothing ugly here” you think?

Well, I prefer to treat others and be treated myself like a real human being.

It’s the same story with link bait – a term I despise – as your visitors are not fish. You can’t treat people like things or numbers. They have feelings!

We have a far better metaphor for the same meaning by now. Successful industry pundits like Rand Fishkin of Moz (formerly) say “link magnets” these days.

What’s the underlying problem here? Isn’t it just a term like dozens of others in SEO nobody else would understand anyway?

Well, no. It’s a word that shows that you don’t care who or rather what your visitors are. They are just random data points in a statistic.

Visitors are human beings, not numbers and certainly not amorphous traffic.

What’s really most despicable about this term is the “quality”. Quality is such a nice word, isn’t it? No! Not here.

I’m not a fucking product to buy or sell, I’m not a slave on the social media market to be priced and sold!

My Language vs my Quality

Do not talk about my quality! I was a linguist and poet before turning SEO. Thus I still care for language and the usage of words.

Some of you might wonder how come I express myself so clumsily then at times. Well, English is my third language. I am born in Poland but live in Germany.

Polish was first, my mother tongue, German was my second language and only then came English. Taking this into account my English is great!

Besides Polish, German and English I also learned Spanish and French in school but I suck at both, c’est la vie. What’s the point of this then?

Real People are Visiting You!

You need to treat your audience like real people, like human beings not numbers. They are your fans and your the artist on the scene!

You should visualize them, treat them like real human beings made of flesh and blood. Also you should strive to make them your friends. Not in the loose Web 2.0 sense of “adding friends”.

You really should befriend them or at least you should make them feel like the

  • mothers
  • Americans
  • dreamers
  • farmers
  • Buddhists
  • bloggers

they are. In many cases they are many of those at once.

I hate it when people treat me like an SEO, or rather like the cliché of an SEO they know.

They don’t know anything about me personally, but they label me already somewhere along the lines of beggars and terrorists.

In SEO 2.0 you harness the power of people’s compassion. To do that you must accept as and treat them like human beings not numbers.

Then there is a hierarchy like in real life outside the family. You have

  1. mentors,
  2. friends,
  3. partners,
  4. colleagues,
  5. acquaintances,
  6. guests,
  7. clients,
  8. casual visitors,
  9. strangers.

Thus to succeed online, like in real life, you need to classify your visitors and other people you “meet” online.

You probably notice that clients are very low in this hierarchy. Imagine yourself to be a book shop owner sitting all day in his shop.

Do You Sell to Friends?

Who do you want to sell something? Your mentors, friends, partners, colleagues? Unless you’re into Amway you probably will not target them specifically.

To see clearer let’s categorize the people who visit your blog according to this hierarchy:

  1. mentors – people who are leading in their area of expertise and you look up to, Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin e.g. in my case
  2. friends – fellow bloggers who I often cooperate with
  3. partners – people who not always share your interests or preferences but work together with you
  4. colleagues – people who do the same work as you, other SEO bloggers e.g
  5. acquaintances – people I will encounter a few times on Twitter or Google+
  6. guests – people who will visit me and we chat a little, other bloggers
  7. clients – people I have only money relations with, I also have money relations with some of the above though, but this is important to see that clients are usually treated like being very low in this hierarchy (this is not to say that they should be treated like that), SEO company representatives
  8. casual visitors – they won’t talk to you, they are just there, stumblers
  9. strangers – you won’t even notice them most of the time, Google visitors

Successful blogging is about talking to strangers. You should make them feel like your friends though without feigning it.

Therefore let’s take a second look at the hierarchy:

  1. mentors – Aaron Wall visits my site, I roll out the red carpet
  2. friends – fellow bloggers I really appreciate visit me, I offer my best sweets and some refreshments
  3. partners – I am respectful but I don’t say yes just to be friendly
  4. colleagues – I am polite and helpful
  5. acquaintances – I say hello
  6. guests – I smile
  7. clients – I ask “can I help you?”
  8. casual visitors – I make eye contact (difficult but not impossible on the Net today)
  9. strangers – I may ignore them or not

This sounds a little like a status quo. Now you have to promote each kind person visiting you to the next level.

  • make eye contact with strangers.
  • ask casual visitors if I can help them.
  • smile at my clients, saying hello.
  • ideally talk to strangers.

You do not have enough red carpets for all of them but many more than in real life. Make your visitors your friends!

* Creative Commons image by Lean Brocard