The traffic challenge is not in getting traffic per se but in getting targeted traffic (1) that converts well, (2) that recommends, and (3) that returns.
Most webdevs appear to equate SEO (aka organic search) and/or SEM (aka PPC search) with targeting traffic. Actually most equate it with Google SEO/SEM. This is not so much 'wrong' as it is limited.
Even within SE traffic there are significant value differences, the most common breakout being:
* navigational search -> want a specific website or web page on a specific site.
Note: an approximate web average of a third. Are you above or below?
* known-item (aka find again) search -> wants known documents, i.e. plain language in place of (unknown, uncertain) url, specific title or author.
Note: how well do your pages win, place, show?
Note: often cross site. Who are your competitors?
* informational (aka subject aka research aka ad hoc) search -> find as many relevant documents as possible about a topic.
One real actionable take-away of the above is how to wean those using SE navigation and known-item searches for your site/pages/documents, i.e to bookmarks, RSS subscriptions.
Another is that both navigation and find again search visitors are really indirect direct traffic. That is, traffic with the intent of coming direct but not certain of the way.
Note: also a surprising number of people simply use browser search in place of the url input box. A habit that Google/Chrome is happy to encourage through one-box input design.
And that difference of search intent is also a critical traffic value (conversion, recommendation, return) difference. It can be useful to know how each SE traffic breaks out rather than simply lumping all together for some average value.
So, a solid SEO strategy should not only work to increase one (aka Google) SE's traffic but all major (and possibly some regional or specialist) SE traffic; to identify and convert navigational and known-item searchers to true direct traffic visitors.
Further, backlinks should not be primarily an SEO function but a traffic optimisation function. The goal is traffic that converts et al and generally SE traffic is far down any such value list. That backlinks from sites that refer targeted traffic also tend to work well for SEO purposes is a nice value addition.
Note: it generally does not work as well in reverse.
Then there is the 'new' kid on the block, social traffic. I break this out into: SM curiosity traffic, SM recommended traffic, SM navigational traffic. Each has significantly different traffic value. Again, as with SE traffic, converting such traffic to a higher value state is often more worthwhile than simply increasing the 'flow'.
Which brings back to the beginning: how do you break out your traffic? Do you know the value (to your site, your bottom line) of each breakout? Do you have a plan to optimise traffic: to increase targeted traffic quantity and quality, to add value to existing traffic?
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