It’s shaky to build a site around ranking for keywords. Google has moved on from simply matching keyword strings in a search query to keyword strings on a web page. Search results are based on identifying searcher intent and matching what they’re trying to accomplish to a website that may help them accomplish that. Many search results today feature web pages that do not always contain the keywords used to query Google.
In my opinion this is partially to blame for the poor rankings so-called content farms have experienced since the release of the Panda algorithm. Thus, a web strategy built upon ranking for specific keyword phrases is facing an uphill battle for search traffic. If Google has moved on from matching search queries to keywords on a web page, doesn’t it make sense that your strategy should also move on, too?
Proprietary web traffic
Every company should focus on building proprietary web traffic. This is accomplished by several methods, the most effective one being useful. Do you search for Google to get to Google? Do you seach for Facebook to get to Facebook? The reason you don’t is because those sites are useful and have become a destination.
The best sites help people accomplish things. Ideally at least fifty percent of a website’s traffic should come from proprietary channels such as newsletter subscription, phone app, site referrals, news referrals, word of mouth and top of mind traffic. This does not vary according to the size or type of company.
The only exception are sites that by nature are dependent on referrals from Facebook and Twitter. But even those sites are evolving to become independent destinations.
The ultimate goal for every site is simply to become a destination. That’s the goal, that’s the finish line. Big brands know this and as a consequence they encourage mobile site visitors to download their app. Mobile apps allow a site to capture that traffic away from Google and make it proprietary. Once a site’s become a destination they’ve liberated themselves from the dependency on Google search traffic.
The most useful social media referrals are the tell-a-friend type referrals. These are word of mouth referrals. The less useful kinds of social media referrals are engineered referrals based on viral topics. Viral campaigns are built around a temporary distraction. There is no brand building in that. There are no sales. There is no name recognition.
Every online marketing strategy must focus on sales. Thus, when a strategy is suggested, ask yourself: How will this work to build sales? Looked at in that manner, social media referrals are best when they revolve around a great user experience. Great user experiences cultivate word of mouth referrals. In days past we used to do that over the backyard fence. Now we do it on Twitter. But social media referrals are just one channel out of many.
Specific actions to fold into a traffic diversification strategy involves creating a great user experience, cultivating proprietary traffic (newsletter/web content subscriptions, mobile apps, blogger outreach, press releases), and making it easy for site visitors to tell a friend. Finally, and this is one that few businesses understand, it is vital to build top of mind awareness among the demographic that is likely to purchase your product, recommend your product, or research your product.
Diversifying web traffic is vitally important for the long term survival of your business and for cultivating growth. Search engine traffic is great. But that’s just one kind of traffic. This is the point where your search marketing initiative becomes your Online Marketing Initiative.
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