Stop Link Building! Links vs Traffic



Do you think that link building is the most important part of traffic generation nowadays? You may be right when you refer to website optimization for Google. You have other options though!


Link building or traffic generation?

In the Google world you get inbound links. Google assesses them and sends you traffic after a while when all of your site is optimized and you target the right keywords.

By now you do not have to take the indirect way. You can get traffic directly cutting out the middle man, in this case Google.

Basically just a handful of sites or blogs have the ability to send traffic in relevant numbers. Just check your web analytics.

You will notice that some links bring something around a handful of visitors a month after linking, or when you’re lucky more like a few dozens.

Most links do not result in any traffic whatsoever after a short while. They get buried somewhere in the archives and nobody even sees them.

Only really popular publications can bring you many visitors, meaning more than a 100.

Then there are of course social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. Popularity there can result in significant traffic spikes.

There are also a few lucky webmasters who get much or some traffic or rather those who are prominent enough in the first place.

With highly creative or valuable content you can get popular there as well but it takes lots of know how, luck and perseverance.

By now everybody else also tries to create exceptional content and thus the competition is fierce. Going viral is the holy grail and clickbait is the daily bread.

The game have been so common that by now Facebook penalized clickbait headlines and diminishes the traffic algorhitmically.


Social media killed the Google star

My blog did not rank well at Google for half a year when I started out. It didn’t rank for relevant queries. There was almost no organic search traffic.

Being in the top 10 for [seo], or even [seo blog] could have changed that. Nonetheless I got between 300 and 3000 visits daily.

Some of you already know where I got my visitors from, at my favorite traffic source: social media.

It all started with StumbleUpon – the most successful social discovery service. Later on Facebook and “smaller” social networking sites likes Twitter, Tumblr or Google+ took over.

There was always some place that my content got shared on by other people or by later by myself. Before social media started throttling organic traffic everything was fine.

The best thing about it was that I didn’t need Google. I didn’t have to please the search engine and to build my site according to their rules to benefit Google’s business model.


Crafting content, adding buttons and engaging

What did I actually do to get traffic? Almost nothing. I just crafted unique content on a regular basis and added buttons on my respective posts.

The social media buttons combined with content written specifically for the social media audiences already brought me hundreds and thousands of visitors.

This initial social media success made me really curious so I started to use social media sites myself. I started socializing with my peers.

I found dozens of like minded people, hundreds of interesting sites and my traffic grew even more as active social media users will more likely notice you when you are engaging yourself. Yet,

I did not even get links in significant numbers, I just got lots of traffic and only some links.

Those brought me only a tiny traffic trickle in most cases. Even renowned or rather prominent weblogs did not bring significant traffic.

While all in all I was linked quite often there were only a few cases where I got more than 100 visitors from a link.


Cover popular topics

In contrast I got at hundreds of visitors from social media sites very often. Especially StumbleUpon traffic flooded my blog in the early days.

Let’s repeat once again what we found out until now and add some insights I wrote about elsewhere:

  • Google brings no traffic when you are not targeting important keywords or your site is too new to have the authority to rank well for those.
  • Direct links from blogs or other normal websites rarely lead to significant traffic, when they do, they do for only a short period of time.
  • Social media sites only yield traffic to the chosen few as long as you don’t create specific content and engage with the audiences there

In case you want to please the social media audiences rather choose something less commerce oriented to write about (in alphabetical order):

  • activism
  • art
  • blogging
  • design
  • oddities
  • photography
  • self improvement
  • software
  • space
  • technology

I do not mean to say that you should add a page about art to your business blog! Make a site about something that matters in the first place!

Try to get the attention of the average people not just the tiny minority of other experts on your trade. Then use visible social media buttons and engage the community.


Are you still waiting for Google?

You don’t need Google. Links from other blogs are nice but they can’t be your sole traffic generation strategy.

Of course you can wait 6 or 12 months until Google accepts you an the links start to work, but then you have to do onpage optimization for popular keywords and which blogger does like that?

When you want to have visitors right away, take the direct way and optimize your content for the social media crowd. They’re a great audience. The traffic is the fastest I have ever seen.


Last updated: January 30th, 2018.