Should I use SEO or other methods for website traffic generation?
This is a question that has become more frequent following Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates and the Hummingbird overhaul. Website traffic generation is the lifeblood of all online businesses. Put simply, Google’s algorithm updates were introduced to improve the quality of the search results. Respectively, they addressed poor quality content on sites, back-link manipulation that gave websites an ‘undeserved’ ranking advantage and finally the way Google ‘reads’ a search request. That’s enough detail for now!
Overuse and inappropriate use of some evergreen SEO tactics has lead to many websites being penalised. Google will no longer stand for this manipulation which could affect the quality of its search results. This penalties are stiff and can be devastating for business. These range from a drop in website’s ranking to complete exclusion from the search results (de-indexing). Attempting to reverse the process can be an arduous and manual process with many site owners opting to start again.
Let’s first explain the algorithm
An algorithm is the set of rules / formulas / equations that a search engine company – notably Google – employs when deciding which webpage to rank highest in the organic, or natural, search results. For example if we search for the word ‘diet’ from our office in the UK, Google will return 142,000,000 results. This implies that there are 142 million results that Google interprets as pertinent to our search. In truth 95% of us will find our answer on the first page of the results and not progress to page 2; that’s just a fact. It’s also a fact that 75% of the CTR (click through rate) is for the results contained in the organic results rather than the sponsored (paid) Advertisements. The reputed 200+ factors which make up Google’s algorithm are not made public so a webmaster’s knowledge of these components is derived from testing and re-testing and the occasional ‘snippet’ from Google.
Why is the algorithm so important?
The algorithm is important for 2 main reasons:
- It is responsible for the quality and relevance of the search results. If you were to experience search results that had poor relevance to your search how long would it be before you abandoned that search engine and tried another?
- Moving on means that you are no longer exposed to the income generating services such as the sponsored advertisements. Google made $50 billion last year from Adwords alone so it is vital you remain a ‘search customer’.
So, we know why the algorithm is so important but how does it affect the development of my website?
If you want your website seen by thousands, maybe millions of people then there is work to be done! This may entail many activities that will drive traffic directly to your website but will also have an effect on the SERP’s (search engine results pages).
If whatever you are doing to send visitors to your website can affect your ranking in the search results then it is subject to the wrath or pleasure of the algorithm!
CLICK ON THE ICON to see a diagram explaining the relationship between SEO and direct traffic generation.We hope the diagram helps explain this relationship. It’s a simple representation. Please feel free to use and amend it as you please.
The intersection of SEO and Direct Traffic Generation is where the current challenges and opportunities lie. It is by no means an exhaustive list but does represent the most widely used avenues to directly increase the numbers of visitors to a website and influence the search engine natural rankings. Most commonly this is referred to as ‘off page SEO’. It is also the area that Google now monitors most closely for any attempts to thwart its algorithm.
The influence that each of these activities have on SERPs will be the subject of a later post – it’s a huge topic!
What is clear is that quality is the ‘buzzword’ and the key to success. For example, poorly written, respun articles submitted to multiple sites will see your website penalised. Google will view this as a clear indication that your objective is to manipulate the rankings by creating ‘undeserved’ links. Some activities such as guest blogging have been so widely abused by webmasters attempting to influence SERPs that Matt Cutts (Head of Spam Team at Google) publicly announced that this activity will no longer influence website ranking positions. Whereas what Matts Cutts says is sometimes taken with a pinch of salt – he has his algorithm to protect – this seems to be a reality. Directory listings is another overused avenue. It’s just pointless now to submit your business details to 1000’s of unrelated directories in order to achieve a backlink. It will get your site penalised for attempted manipulation. However listing with well reputed directories like Yahoo and Dmoz is a different story; this can be beneficial to your website ranking position as it shows a commitment to your business.
Google’s protection of its search result quality is easy to understand. So are the measures it has, can and will take to ensure it remains the search engine of choice for 90% of UK users. It’s not necessary to understand how Google looks upon every traffic generating activity you pursue online in order to appreciate the overall relevance, the potential payoff or the unwanted pitfall.
If it’s easy to do and the objective is to simply influence a website ranking – forget it.
Think quality first and last!
At Big Boom Marketing we regard the Top 3 traffic generation activities to be:
- Social signals / Social interaction
- Blogging (great onsite content creation) & and offsite blogging platforms
- Video Marketing
In further posts we will explain why and explore the SEO & traffic generation value of the current favourites.
Hope you enjoyed the post and good luck with your online efforts.
By Neil Willis