What’s the biggest source of traffic to your blog? And why is this question even important? Because if you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket, you’re setting yourself up for a huge fall. If that single source goes bottoms-up, you’re going to have to scramble to replace that traffic. And while it’s highly unlikely that Google will go under tomorrow, there are plenty of bloggers who learned this lesson the hard way.
Take a look at the blogs you visit and you’ll probably find that a large percentage talk about the importance of search engine optimization. Occasionally they’ll throw in a post about how to get more traffic from Facebook or how to increase your RSS subscriptions, but those are few and far between. In fact, I can’t think of a single blog that focuses on a specific alternative source of traffic, like Direct traffic or Referral traffic, yet there are thousands of sites that focus strictly on Google and SEO.
Search Engine Traffic
Search engine traffic, or Organic traffic, occurs when someone types a keyword-rich search term into their search engine. That may be Google, it may be Yahoo or Bing, and it might be the search box on a blog or website.
In most cases these visitors will be first-time visitors to your blog and they come to your blog looking for an answer to a question. Because one question often leads to another, these people will probably not buy whatever you’re promoting on their very first visit, especially since you haven’t yet earned their trust. However, if they like what they see they may become subscribers and they may share your link.
Referral traffic comes to your blog via links. Another blogger may link to one of your posts inside one of his own posts, citing you as an information source. They may see your link in your forum signature, in an email, or at the end of one of your guest posts. They might also see your link because someone shared it in one of the social networks.
In most cases, these visitors will also be first time visitors, but with one major difference. Someone they trust has recommended your blog as a credible source of information, so they already have some measure of trust for you and your blog. These visitors are more likely to subscribe to your blog and share your content with their friends. They’re also a few steps closer to becoming buyers because they already have some trust in you.
Direct traffic comes to your blog… directly. They’ve been there before, they liked it, so they either bookmarked it or they remember your URL so they can type it directly into their search bar. These people are even more likely to share your links with their friends and even more likely to turn into buyers. They’re also more likely to engage with your blog by leaving comments, answering your polls, and chatting you up in the social networks.
As you can see, search engine traffic is just one type of traffic, but you really need all three. If all of your traffic is coming from Google, then it’s time to amp up your efforts in other areas. Work on creating content that your readers will want to share and link to so you can start bringing in referral traffic. And work on providing over-the-top value for your readers so they’ll turn into Direct traffic.
Once you start focusing on developing all three sources of traffic for your blog you’ll see an exponential growth in your traffic numbers. But if you only focus on search engine traffic, then be prepared to scramble the next time Google puts through one of their animal updates.