Do you own or manage a website or blog? Then you’re probably already aware that there are a number of effective strategies to getting visitors to your site.
With the mass of noise around internet marketing techniques it’s easy to be confused as to what you should be focusing on, in fact even the experts seem to be getting their marketing methods mixed up so here is my brief traffic strategy guide to compare social sharing and SEO.
Online Traffic Strategies
OK, lets start with the basics, you want to improve the quality and/or quantity of website visitors, hopefully acheiving more engaged site visitors and, with an effective conversion strategy, generating enquiries or sales. Having a traffic strategy is key to achieving this.
There are a two main types of traffic strategy, either via targeting or volume:
Targeting – is about getting your website in front of the right kind of audience. The more appropriate the audience is, the greater the likelihood of generating the results you want. Key factors that improve targeting can include location, brand, pricing, product attributes, related target audience interests, comparisons or reviews. Examples of targeted traffic include those from search engines, topical magazine sites, community and forum websites and local directories. Targeting can be a risky strategy since you may be talking to a small audience and if the targeting is not accurate then you can easily waste your time or money.
Despite not being about the size of the audience, looking at the potential volume of traffic is useful to prioritise where you focus your targeting. As a marketeer you have to consider your conversion rate, for example if enquiries from a particular source is 2% of a 1000 monthly visitors, that’s not as good as a 50% conversion rate from a source of 100 monthly visitors.
Volume – is about putting your content in front of as many potential customers as possible, regardless of interest, on the basis that with a big enough sample set even a small conversion rate will generate sufficient enquiries or sales, a model that TV and radio advertising has been using for years.
Much like broadcast media, there is a risk of over communication and switching the audience off before they get a chance to assess whether what you have is of interest to them. Volume is an easy option sometimes adopted by marketeers who don’t understand the target audience.
So what does this have to do with Social sharing and SEO?
Social Sharing and SEO
Social sharing can either be targeted or volume based. For those who know your potential audience (i.e. are already connected to them or their influencers), or know where they spend their time online, then you can be very targeted with your social media marketing, communicating with the people who will find your offering of interest and are most likely to buy.
However, it’s far easier on social media to focus on driving volume rather than being targeted. Creating volume through establishing as many connections as possible and constantly sharing content. Many social media experts claim this approach to social media is an effective method of SEO, however in most cases it’s simply a method of generating more referral traffic and often not very targeted. If you measure your marketing by volume alone then you can easily be fooled into thinking it’s more effective than it actually is.
Effective SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) by it’s very nature has to be targeted. It is achieved through an ongoing process designed to improve targeting. It will often involve maintaining your website content, menu structure and inbound links (or backlinks) in line with some measurable traffic stats. Therfore if you are not targeting specific searches/traffic then whatever you are doing is not SEO.
Volume is only achieved in SEO if your targeting is accurate. Social sharing can generate many inbound links to your website but often they are poor in quality and have little impact on search traffic. Many website owners report tremendous improvements in ‘SEO’ following a social media campaign, but in my experience it’s simply because their website SEO or analytics knowledge is so poor to start with that any links and traffic will be a benefit.
One final note, social media can be a very effective sales tool, both through targeting and volume but don’t be confused into thinking that you can use social media to replace effective SEO.