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What is "Good Quality Traffic" for an AdSense Publisher?

     
3:01 pm on Jul 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The post about social media traffic being low quality put this question in my head, and I don't know that we've ever tried to tackle this question head on before.

How would you define "good quality traffic" for an AdSense Publisher?

Google probably isn't going to give us any kind of precise definition, so let's try to do it ourselves. I have some thoughts. They're just thoughts, nothing official that has ever been passed down to me.

1) Traffic that arrived on your website on purpose (i.e. it wasn't redirected, misdirected, mislabeled, or otherwise misrepresented - no matter what the source was, the users came to you because they were generally interested)

2) Traffic that sticks around and views more than a page or two (engagement FTW)

3) Traffic that visits more than once

4) Traffic from authoritative and relevant links

5) I want to put "traffic that converts for the advertisers" but I also don't.

6) Traffic that is relevant to your niche and location (i.e. if I have a site that's targeted to Michigan, and I get mostly traffic from Russia, that's probably not going to be high quality traffic for me)

There's got to be more - what do you think? What are the signs of low quality traffic?
3:23 pm on July 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I would add

7) Age Bracket - 18-65 (Children are lower quality traffic as they don't have direct spending power)

8) Working hours traffic

9) Traffic from offices

10) I would like to add traffic from high income suburbs, but also I don't

I think that traffic that converts for advertisers has to go in

For me traffic that views more than a page or two is probably not the best sort of traffic - my sites are designed to try and get people to the right place as fast as possible - so they can get the information they want as quickly as possible.
3:55 pm on July 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Balancing the quality of the site vs additional information that can be found via adverts is a tightrope. If I have too much high quality information i've got very few clicks. If I have too little information i've got no clicks. It's only through continued experimentation that i've been able to succeed.

I would also agree that certain countries produce nothing, zero, nowt, zilch. I will filter as much as possible, and certainly, it's not worth extending beyond the region, except in certain circumstances. For example, if you're in real estate, somebody across the country, or out of the country, might want to view the properties.
4:05 pm on July 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Also note that what's good quality traffic for YOU, might not be good quality traffic for AdSense purposes. Most of my AdSense sites are event sites of one type or another, and most people just want to come find out the date, time and location and then leave. That doesn't make them ideal sites for revenue; the only thing that make it really profitable is the large amount of traffic. If I had sites more targeted to products / services, I'd probably have better quality traffic for AdSense (but then again, if I had those I'd probably be running affiliate ads and making even more, ork ork)
8:50 pm on July 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Traffic where the language of the visitor matches the language of the site (if this is mismatched I would expect a lot of accidentally ad clicks)

Human traffic (seems obvious but still worth mentioning)

When we are talking about Good Quality should we break it down to legitimate traffic or high value traffic which I think are two different things.

I would consider traffic from high income suburbs to be high value traffic (high cpc).

So if you have a site that is primarily for people making under say 20k a year it could be legitimate traffic but low value.

So you could have a site with low value traffic that has a high legitimate score because all the traffic is interested in the product.

And a site with high value traffic with a fairly low legitimate score (a site that sells personal planes but some proportion (10-15%) of the traffic was acquired through misrepresentation)
9:33 pm on July 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Like netmeg said, if you had the ideal traffic you'd be better off having an affiliate or ecommerce site than using Adsense. but ideal traffic is hard to earn.
9:44 pm on July 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Also note that what's good quality traffic for YOU, might not be good quality traffic for AdSense purposes

Yes that is where I am at, as well as most of your original post.

However

None of my content sites were ever created with revenue in mind. Originally when the sites began to cost me serious money, I relied upon affiliate programmes - notably Amazon to recoup my costs with a good few cups of coffee left over.

AdSense arrived years later.
12:35 am on July 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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User engagement related metrics are open to interpretation. They could be indicators of a problem on your site. I would not position user engagement as something positive.
7:50 am on July 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Desktop and Tablet traffic.

Traffic from Bing

Traffic on Internet Explorer
2:37 am on July 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Generally, I agree with all the above.

As mentioned every site is unique in how it's visitors from various referrers interact with AdSense et al. And, of course the great divide between info and eCom. My sites are info, articles are primarily long to very long form with custom imagery and multimedia.

A decade ago AdSense was ~90% of revenue, rest was affiliate pre-sell. Search was primary and my major efforts were to maintain SE diversity and grow return visits. These days Search is still primary but Social is a close second and I still work at diversity and growing returns; AdSense is but ~10% of revenue, rest is direct ad space sales and affiliate pre-sell. With AdSense only on the otherwise non-marketed 'also ran' pages all that has been mentioned above is especially critical to say the least. :)

Thanks to a heavy interest and investment in analytics I do know which referrers, by category and individually, convert best with AdSense and constantly work at encouraging (by onpage efforts) growth. I will say that (by conversion pecentage) search is the least valuable referrer category, Google the least valuable SE; return browser visitors and app users the most valuable. The value of Social, in all it's permutations, depends greatly on what/how/who/why/when/where connections are made and recommendations followed; it varies greatly from pure awesome to mediocre and back again. Overall, for me, Social traffic value way outperforms Search.

However, the two biggest critical inputs have little to do with traffic but with the ads themselves:
* the first is directly within my control: opting out of interest based and personalised advertising.
* the second is not: AdWords managed placements.
These two are what has kept my AdSense revenue returning well above expectations these past years, as ad block numbers decline. Of course, without sufficient converting traffic neither matters much, however with such traffic they make an incredible difference. For me. YMMV.

So, for me, Good Quality Traffic (not in any specific order) is:
* traffic that has arrived from quality search query referrers
aka the referrer has via query/query intent matching pre-qualified the traffic.

* traffic that arrived from social recommendations:
aka the recommendation lead from preceding conversation prequalifies the traffic.

* traffic that arrived from quality site referrers:
aka the referrer has via content interest pre-qualified the traffic.

* return traffic (direct browser and app).

* site search that properly directs/retains visitors.

* custom 404s that recover lost visitors.
1:45 pm on Aug 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I would add traffic that visits sites similar to yours.

I know that sounds a little off, but it would be a good indicator that your traffic is "real". If you get 8000 visitors from social who never visit sites in your niche otherwise, that would signal a scheme of some kind to drive traffic and that traffic will be poor. So, click baiting might work to drive traffic, but if those people are just clicking for the sensational headline, they might not be great traffic overall for your site.

Plus, I don't think that we should use just the blanket statement of user metrics. Again, I think that it would have to be in relation to sites within your niche.

Although, it does make me wonder. All these people who complain about how they are making pennies on the dollar compared to the past in AdSense, perhaps they have very thin niches or even that their sites cannot be properly niche identified and their traffic quality looks poorer for it, and thus AdSense pays them less?
5:30 pm on Aug 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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What do people think about traffic from an email newsletter. I am not talking about spamming people. But people that have signed up for a newsletter. And then when sent newsletter click on a link to website.
7:35 pm on Aug 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think that would qualify. I mean, if they did not want to click, or found your newsletter annoying, they could just mark it spam rather than clicking. It takes some effort on their part to go from getting the enewsletter to getting to your site, which is a kind of pre-qualification for quality.
5:45 pm on Aug 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's funny that social traffic has been deemed less worthy. Wasn't it just a few years ago that Google was looking at social signals to indicate that these were pages that real humans were deeming worthy of a visit and sharing with their friends?

I hope language mismatch is not too big a thing. We have original photo galleries of events and Actress A is beautiful no matter what the language. :-)
2:37 pm on Aug 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't think social traffic is less worthy at all - and I'm not sure Google does either.

But that said - most of my AdSense earnings come from people who came in via search engines (Google, Bing & Yahoo) I don't think the Facebook and Twitter people click on ads as much.
10:54 pm on Aug 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't think the Facebook and Twitter people click on ads as much.

Wasn't it just a few years ago that Google was looking at social signals to indicate that these were pages that real humans were deeming worthy of a visit and sharing with their friends?

So, these two things may be related to each other. I theorize that what is considered best quality traffic is people who don't click on ads often, but when they do, they almost buy something. It is kind of like a Venn diagram of the best customer. Those who don't click on every ad they see (so they don't waste advertisers' money) but when they do click, they always buy (making advertisers money). It would seem to me that this customer profile would be the ideal visitor from AdSense's perspective and would therefore be what they would consider to be the very best quality traffic.
12:26 am on Aug 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'd buy that (theory. I mean)
12:40 pm on Aug 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Oops... hehe that should have read "but when they do, they almost always buy something"
7:46 am on Aug 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I would say traffic from similar sites with high ranking.
3:03 pm on Aug 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm less concerned about "good-quality traffic" than I am about "good-quality ads." Our information site's audience is fine (it generates good affiliate income, and its Quantcast demographics skew toward higher-income, highly-educated readers), but I wish AdWords/AdSense hadn't become too complicated for the smaller niche advertisers who'd be a great fit for our most popular topics.
8:07 pm on Aug 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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""Good Quality Traffic" for an AdSense Publisher?"

1) Traffic that actually sees the AdSense ads.
2) Traffic that might click on the AdSense ad.

I think the question missing a few critical elements..
4:35 pm on Aug 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This is a great topic, and one that I am keen on assisting all of you on in the near term. I actually have a series of blog posts on this very topic that I hope to start in the coming weeks. There are some other resources that are upcoming which should provide some additional guidance as well. In the meantime, our Webmaster Central Blog has some tips: [webmasters.googleblog.com...]
3:09 pm on Aug 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Informational sites keep dropping like flies because scrapers from sites with high numbers of back links will find you site and copy it.
Google doesn't respect the age of a site so you drop like a rock. I actually did a search around the fourth of July for the activity that netmeg promotes, and her site was on page two for my area. Also, chamber of commerce and community sites have popped up over the years, so it's no surprise that this niche would get flooded out.

I was hoping this topic would offer actual numbers of visitors per day. I'm guessing "good" traffic means "converting" traffic, which to some is a dirty word.
3:36 pm on Aug 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This is a great topic, and one that I am keen on assisting all of you on in the near term.

Thanks pubpolicycomms, we always welcome ways to make things better. We'll look forward to the missives. :)

I'm guessing "good" traffic means "converting" traffic, which to some is a dirty word.


Absolutely, good is converting, but profitable converting is even better, and it's not all about volumes.
7:54 pm on Aug 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I actually did a search around the fourth of July for the activity that netmeg promotes, and her site was on page two for my area.


Interesting, because my organic traffic for the site that represents your state was up about 28% this year, depending on the search term. But that's kind of OT.
12:35 am on Aug 11, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Informational sites keep dropping like flies because scrapers from sites with high numbers of back links will find you site and copy it. Google doesn't respect the age of a site so you drop like a rock.

That hasn't been my experience. (But, as always, YMMV.) Something to keep in mind: Don't assume that "high numbers of back links" have more clout than smaller numbers of high-quality links. When it comes to links, I think Google has been around long enough to know the difference between #*$! and Shinola.
10:23 am on Aug 11, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In all things a good balance is desired. Shoot for that ... it's easier than trying to be top dog and lasts a whole lot longer. As for "converting" sometimes it is better to have some "converts" who found your site so compelling they just had to share it with friends and family (and if they do email via g, ms, or y you can bet those critters know about it). Just saying there are "links" and then there are "LINKS".
2:58 pm on Aug 11, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Informational sites keep dropping like flies because scrapers from sites with high numbers of back links will find you site and copy it


Really, the idea that backlinks make a site is a little (ok, a lot) outdated these days. If you are failing in your niche and you suspect that sheer number of backlinks is why, than you have much larger issues with your site than scrapers with large number of backlinks. In my experience, these days if a scraper is taking you down, it is because you have other issues, like design and usability issues.

Just saying there are "links" and then there are "LINKS".


Exactly. Let's face it people. Google can follow INDIVIDUAL people around the web like a super spy with no problems and serve super targeted ads to that one person. Do we really, really believe that they simply look at a link and tick it off as a number when they have shown that they have insane amounts of finesse and computing power in other areas? I actually highly doubt that actual links even play a big role in the algo anymore. It is much more likely and makes more sense that Google uses the flow of traffic (both in terms of quantity and quality) through those links when judging their value.