Reduced traffic can be awesome!

Reduced traffic can be awesome!

I am often troubled by things I hear from digital sales folk: at least once or twice a week someone in my professional network sends me an e-mail that makes me cringe.

I usually read them with a quick glance and think “hey, that headline sounds sexy and/or interesting…”

Then I really read it.

Then I get that noxious feeling.

Someone is simply glorifying the facts and is selling something that smells.

Today’s winning e-mail:

Considering a site redesign? If so, you’re probably contemplating all of the potential benefits that a redesigned site will bring to your business. Perhaps your goal is to achieve an easier to use or navigate website, or to migrate to a new CMS in order to scale production and publication of new content. Perhaps the intent of your redesign is to give your presence a much-needed facelift

In August 2010, XXXX, the ABCYD website, launched a new, redesigned website. Following the re-launch, XXXX lost almost 30% of their organic traffic due to lack of SEO best practices in their redesign plan.

No one wants to follow XXXX’s example. Take the time to plan and evaluate what you’ll need to do to build a well optimized website. If you have been involved in a site redesign, you know it is substantially easier and less costly to make changes to site architecture, links, tags and flow pre-launch rather than post-launch.

While the message of using SEO best practices to maximize your traffic is correct, the assumption that a reduction in traffic is bad is entirely wrong.

In many cases a healthy amount of organic traffic can be seen on all sorts of strange keywords that have high volumes of traffic.

The high volume traffic keywords are often completely worthless and sometimes damaging.

CASE ONE: Being Worthless

In many cases site owners are rewarded with great rankings on very strange keywords. This is often caused by some form of commentary (blog post, etc) that mentions the keyword phrase or is the result of a high profile web site linking to the site with a strange anchor text. (an anchor text is the visible word used to create a hyperlink to another site, such as this really great guy.)

It is only a matter of time before a site you are involved with gets one of these strange source of keyword traffic.

In many cases it becomes an inside joke at the office that the website ranks for ‘keyword abc’  and that there is no way to monetize the traffic for the business.

CASE TWO: Causing Damage

This is what happens when your site begins to get too much traffic from the wrong keywords.

As a business matures online it often realizes the top keywords that really matter (and make money for the business)

When you begin to see 10%, 20%, 30% or more of your monthly traffic come from the wrong keywords, you are eventually forced to remodel your site so that you can focus on the keywords that matter (and get better results on those very high profit keywords.)

In some extreme cases you may also have side damages from extraordinarily bad keywords (adult entertainment, racist information, etc) that can cause tremendous problems when your audience is exposed to the ‘wrong audience’ in the form of commentary, blog posts, and general social media channels. The last thing any white collar business needs is a 100k monthly adult entertainment visitors interacting with a business community.

If you are trying to compete for search engine keywords, the confusion caused by irrelevant keywords that you don’t monetize as a business will make it more difficult to rank on the keywords that matter.

Reducing Traffic = Focusing on Results

A million visitors a month on your web site will surely give you something to brag about to clueless professionals gossiping around the water cooler, but all the traffic in the world won’t save your business unless you can figure out a way to make money your target niche.

When reviewing your plans for search engine optimization, keep these things in mind:

  • always consider value of a keyword vs volume of a keyword
  • is one high-worth client worth more than X low-worth clients?
  • do maximum profit clients differ in keyword usage from low profit clients?
  • are you competing for keyword traffic for vanity reasons or business revenue?

Ask for real insight

Rather than get pulled into the marketing and sales fluff… try to ask the hard questions about the real world problems that your business is trying to resolve. The digital business metrics will have clearer pros/cons when they are paired with objectives and business results.

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