Posted Friday, December 3, 2004
Start at the goal. Walk backwards, feet on the ground. Then forward. That is how you guarantee positive results for any quest, including a guaranteed increase in your site traffic and revenues. Let us take a brief look at this philosophy, then see how we can use it to increase our site traffic, guaranteed. What you will discover is that the most simple and affordable of traffic building strategies are surprisingly obvious to only a minority of webmasters around the world.
Walking backwards from the goal means starting at the end result. Find something that has already reached the end result that you are after. Observe it and analyze what causes this end result, backtracking step by step from the end result to where you are now. As you do so keep your feet on the ground, that is, look at the pure facts of the matter. No hype, no "I hope" or "I think", no theories. Just pure facts from observation. Finally walk forward. Re-apply the facts you discovered, step-by-step, without inventing or re-inventing anything. Follow blindly, no matter how silly or simple the path you have uncovered may appear to be. And you will be guaranteed success as long as you are acting in the same environment as the one in which you observed your end result.
I have had the opportunity to look at sites that have reasonably high traffic levels (our desired end result). Having a look at their server log files tells you exactly where the traffic is coming from, stripped down to the bare facts. Log files don't lie. The following truths emerge:
Fact (1): Most sites get a large proportion of their daily traffic from popular search engines. This is by far the biggest traffic driver to most sites. Another large traffic driver is incoming links from other busy sites or from hundreds or thousands of small sites. It is usually hard to directly replicate a busy site's incoming links network so we won't dwell on this. Instead we will focus on what is easy, replicating a busy site's performance on search engine ranking across the board. You will find that once your site is busy because of search engine traffic, your incoming links network will grow automatically as more people find your site and link to it. Higher numbers of incoming links (called link popularity) boost search engine rankings. It is a good vicious cycle that keeps itself growing - and you want that!
This high search engine traffic depends on the following things:
Fact (2): The total number of pages the site has. The more the pages, the higher the traffic. Why? Think about it. Say your site has 10 pages only and each page draws in an average of about 7 visitors a day that find it on the search engines. That's 70 visitors a day (10 pages x 7 visitors per page). If you now had 100 pages instead of similar nature, you would now have about 7 x 100 = 700 visitors a day instead of 70. Its that simple!
Fact (3): Basically, most sites get a trickle of traffic per page on their site. Each page manages to get found by only a relatively small number of people a day from the search engines, depending on the search subject, usually only about 10 - 30 or so people a day per page even on well visited sites. Why? Because most pages on average on a particular site do not rank highly on search results. But occasionally you will find a site with dozens or hundreds of pages with good search engine rankings. By pure chance or careful planning, these pages are optimized for the search engines. Now say you had 100 pages each pulling in an average of 10 visitors a day from the search engines. Your competitor also has 100 pages but they pull in an average of 70 (or even much more) visitors a day due to better optimization. Guess who will be writing the success story.
Fact (4): Looking at the log files for keywords or phrases typed into the search engines to find these sites (yes, log files can tell you that, too), you discover that these busy sites are be found by a much larger range of keywords than their less busy competitors. For example, a low traffic site selling wedding gowns may have, in all the text on all its pages, only about 10 keywords and phrases related to wedding gowns (e.g. wedding gowns, weddings, marriage, bride, bride, etc). But a busy one may have over 50 related words and phrases, including less obvious but related ones such as registry service, bachelor party, bucks night, wedding planner, etc. Even though the site only sells wedding gowns, someone looking for a wedding planner or bachelor party information would most likely also be interested in wedding gowns. And on their search for these other words, if they bump into a wedding gown site, they will be interested in exploring it. Simple math: if one keyword gets you 10 unique visitors a day, 60 different keywords of a related nature will get you 600 more unique visitors.
Fact (5): This last fact is obtained from simple observation of search results on major search engines. If you search for any term on most major search engines, you will notice that many of the top ranking pages in the search results are the home pages of web sites (i.e., the default page of a domain name, such as index.htm, default.asp, index.html, etc). Also, the domain names themselves often contain the keywords being search for (e.g. a search for wedding gowns will result in pages with domains such as weddinggowns.com, weddingshop.com, gownsforsale.com, etc.). This is especially so with HotBot (www.hotbot.com). That is not to say that other pages do not rank well. It just means that your pages will rank better if the domain name or the page name contains the keywords being searched for.
Now that you have seen how absolutely logical and easy it is to get that much needed traffic to your web site, you can now go ahead and make it happen for you. The only obstacle is one: to make a significantly higher number of web pages than those that you currently have, and make these for a wider variety of related keywords than you already have, and optimize them all for the several major search engines, is not exactly a simple task if done manually. The hardest part is the optimization because that is a mathematical and constantly changing thing (the engines use math to rank pages and they constantly change their formulas). There are several options available to you to make your work easier. You could find a consultant who does this. Usually, this is quite expensive but the advantage is that you do not have to do anything yourself. You do have to be careful to choose a good consultant and not just anyone trying their luck at this. Your other option is to do it yourself. If you have a lot of time and know-how of the workings of the search engines, you could make templates and run them against your set of keywords to create your pages. The only danger with templates is that you could end up with duplicate pages that spam the engines. And this method can be a messy process. Your last and best option is to use software specifically designed for this job. This is the fastest, most reliable and accurate method. All you have to do is select the right software package and everything else should take care of itself. This field is very new and currently very few packages exist that offer enough intelligence to do the job correctly. A search at ZDNet's (http://www.hotfiles.com) should yield a selection of packages you can evaluate.
There are many other ways that people use to find new sites, such as following links on other sites, reading about sites on magazine, hearing from friends, etc. But no matter what other methods they use, they almost always use them in addition to using the search engines, especially when actively trying to locate new information. If there was one thing you could not eliminate from a site's success driver and not ruin it, it is most usually its traffic from the search engines. No other method of marketing is so powerful, effective, and affordable to the majority of sites on the Internet. In fact, it is virtually free.
About the Author
David Gikandi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is CEO at SearchPositioning.com (http://www.positionweaver.com).