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Future of traffic development?

 7:47 am on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure, but I've been thinking that:

- people only have a certain amount of time

- social communities/networks/etc. are growing (and people are going to spend more and more time in such communities)

-> conclusion: this means that search engines will be used less (I'm just saying a certain amount of market share will shift from search engines to communities, etc.)

-> Thus getting links that drive traffic (not "only" rankings) will become more important...and...WOM (on forums, communities, blogs) will become more important ..for traffic development

An extreme example might be the world of online marketing/SEO. Whenever I try to find out something about SEO/the web/etc., I go to one of the forums I arleady know and ask, or I go to blogs/sites I already know and use internal site search, or ask somebody I know in e-mail, etc.

In other words, if you were goign to market to SEOs/Online Marketers (who are past the complete beginner stage), you would be much better of trying to get links for referral traffic & spark w-o-m in the "community" (as opposed trying to doing SEO), if your goal is driving traffic.

Obviously that's an extreme example, but is it possible that "traffic development" will sort of move into that direction?



 10:59 am on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Search engines are a very efficient way of finding information and I believe people will keep using them a lot. Maybe an integration of these engines with social media networks will drive SE traffic even higher.

What I am concerned about is link development. I have found it more and more difficult to acquire quality inbounds. The reason for this is the increasing uselessness of Link pages with many webmasters stopping updating these pages or dropping them altogether. I am of course not referring to link exchanges and the such.

So I agree with your statement
Thus getting links that drive traffic (not "only" rankings) will become more important...and...WOM (on forums, communities, blogs) will become more important ..for traffic development


 11:22 am on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Easier said than done to generate substantial amounts of targeted traffic via organic site referral from blogs, forums, social networking sites, etc. and hence many people's continued focus on SEO.

But clearly it's a prospecting avenue that has huge opportunity for the right type of business.

For smaller organizations with limited funds/manpower there's a massive opportunity cost on where to place efforts to maximize returns and SEO has always offered the best cost/return ratio--even today with Google pushing down organic results in favor of PPC and maps/local listings.

Search attracts people that are more likely to be in a ready, willing and able to buy mindset. Meaning they land on a search results page, scan for what they need and quickly click out of the SE and onto your site...ready to take an action.

Visitors to blogs and social media are in an entirely distinct frame of mind: they are seeking entertainment, want to kill some time, socialize, etc. and as such are much less likely to click out of a site to be sold on something.

The most effective marketing reaches a particular group of people in a particular state of mind. That said there's still way more "good" traffic to be had optimizing your websites for search than for site referrals.


 11:58 am on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think I might not have made it clear enough that I wasnt referring to "now", but the "future" :-).

Of course, it is really difficult to get a lot of targeted traffic through links from other websites, now...for most websites how much do they account for - say 10% of their traffic?

But if online activity *shifts* towards social communities and the like (say twice as many people spending significant time in communities as do now), then the importance of WOM / the traffic to be had from WOM should double (or well might..).

And right now most people on social media sites (facebook, etc.) are obviously not in a ready-to-buy mindset...Im talking about a state of the web more like 10 years into the future - I would assume that as people g row more used to the web (younger generations) more of them will use communities/forums for the areas of their interest...sort of as us web people are already doing it with our web stuff (not suggesting everyone will be that extreme, though ;-))...but I see actually useful communities arising not just time-wasters.

In the (online) language learning industry for example..I used to use a website that c onnected people learning different languages with one another (with the same language pairs so they could teach/listen to one another).
almost 10 years ago when I was using that site (and a significant amount of other users already), that was pretty useful...

Now..since a year or two other language learinng communities have arised..doing sorta the same thing (but with more content included,etc.)...

However, that site has like 3 million users now..I first heard about it from a friend livign in Brazil who started using it a year ago and is still using, now (saying it's very useful) - and that site is mostly community-based.

If that kind of stuff happens in other niches - useful community based sites arising, I think word-of-mouth will be BIG.


 12:23 pm on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

10 years down the line...hmmm, I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow much less what the future of online marketing/traffic generation will look like. Frankly, I would have never imaged Google's dominance five years ago, Yahoo falling off, Facebook even existing, people loving to "tweet"...

I'd love to think that people will be wiened off of Google (search engines) and that prospecting will be more spread out allowing for various cost-effective avenues.

If you have the cash and inclination to make an investment in your bet of how all will develop then you'll either win big or loss your time and investment--been there, done that and it doesn't feel good.

I take risks on a much shorter time horizon these days.


 2:17 pm on Nov 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Actually, I believe thinking strategically helps lowering the risk. I got into SEO 3 years ago and am pretty glad, nowadays that I decided I shouldn't try to become an "SEO specialist", but grow a much broader skill-set (with a focus on SEO).

If SEO should become realtively unimportant for "traffic development" (search becoming more efficient, the importance of other channels such as WOM growing, google deciding they want to push the organic listings below the fold...) in a couple of years down the road, I won't like it (I really like SEO), but life will still be cool for me.

Im not trying to make an investment or a bet on how all will develop, but I think keeping in mind what can happen (risks) isn't a bad idea.

Then again I just posted this because I find it interesting ;-)


 2:03 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's like a game with constantly changing rules. I kind of enjoy watching for new developments, and analyzing and testing and adjusting various strategies.


 2:35 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't think online communities like facebook/twitter or even niche forums are going to change our search habits. However, targeting traffic according to the profile of your typical site visitor is a valid way of building links/traffic.

In fact, targeting the demographic profile of the site user and finding where they live online is something I've been recommending for many years in my link dev presentations at PubCon and SMX. It's something I prefer over the usual competitor backlink replication. You end up with solid traffic and/or solid links sometimes outside of what I call link [seroundtable.com] cliques [webmasterworld.com], allowing you to build your own.


 3:48 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hmm that's really interesting - When you say you (can) end up with solid traffic from that approach...

that makes me want to ask if many of your sites and/or clients' sites youve built links to are getting decent "link traffic" (as in much more than the usual < 10% of new referrals) b/c of that approach?

Not trying to nit-pick or anything, but that's a topic I'm interested in a lot (Im just curious) - as diversifying your overall traffic by using "link traffic" doesn't seem to be an easy task.


 4:19 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's not an easy task. I see it as accelerating what would happen in a natural manner. Which is, accelerating the discovery of your site and subsequent linking. It's not easy. For a client there are certain sites that focus on the kind of person likely to be a purchasing customer. Especially when focused on the demographic, getting the word out to those likely to purchase your good or otherwise engage with your site, the traffic and awareness can matter more than the link juice.


 8:11 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply - and sorry, I should have put it differently. According to what I've heard from most people on here, it seemed not just not an "easy task", but basically an impossible task.

So you're doing link building for clients where the (targeted) traffic helps more than the link juice those links bring? Interesting (if I understood it correctly).

Imagine links didn't help much anymore for organic rankings (doubt this will happen, but they might become less valuable and/or google will favor paid listings for product searches more,etc.)...

Would there still be a place for consultants specializing in link building? or would the value from the pure traffic/getting the word out ...from a link building campaign not really have a decent ROI anymore?

(I'll admit this is a weird question to ask...lol)


 9:36 am on Nov 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Future of traffic development?

The premise and conclusions are all non sequiturs because nothing has changed, just the appearance of the landscape has changed with some big name community sites making waves.

Word of Mouth and social media (BBS, forums, blogs, etc) has been used since the beginning of the internet to drive traffic and build links.

Forget SEO, it's all SEM of which SEO is just a subset, always has been, always will be.

-> conclusion: this means that search engines will be used less (I'm just saying a certain amount of market share will shift from search engines to communities, etc.)

The flaw here is that communities aren't useful for finding things, they're useful for sharing things and if you have enough time in your life you can share all day long in the community but you'll rarely find squat.

Go try to find the address of a store in Twitter, or a map to get there, let me know how well it works, good luck with that ;)

When people need something immediately they'll turn to the search engine and then turn to the community to find reviews of the service or product which is the metaphor already being used in the SEs.

For instance, searching for a restaurant brings up community review sites for the restaurant often ahead of the restaurant site itself.

The trick here is the SE will have to identify which community has the most relevant content for the topic at hand and not just overload searchers with every little community site on the planet.

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