More importantly, is your time spent on these social networks doing you any good?
Are they bringing you new customers?
Are they giving you better relationships with your existing customers?
There has never been a better time to directly engage with your customers and potential customers by using Social Media but we risk missing out some important fundamentals by the relentless march towards social media.
Where Pootlepress website traffic comes from and why Google search still rules
Here’s the thing. Under 5% of traffic to Pootlepress comes via Social Media. This may be because Pootlepress is not hugely active on social channels – we have 500 followers on Twitter and 178 followers on Facebook – but it’s still a tiny percentage compared to other sources.
The number 1 source of traffic to Pootlepress is still Google Search
Here’s a breakdown of where our traffic comes from:
- 65% Google search
- 10% Google CPC advertising
- 10% direct visits
- 10% referral sites
- Under 5% social media
Of course the statistics for Pootlepress will not mirror your websites, but I’m guessing they won’t vary that much. The most important message I take from our statistics is that Google Search is by far the most important factor in driving traffic to our website.
The other really interesting fact about Google Search when I dig into the analysis, is that visitors arriving from Google Search spend much longer on our website and produce a much lower bounce rate than compared to CPC advertising and visitors from Social Media sites.
Why Google Search traffic converts better than Social Media
This really comes down to intent. The beauty of Google Search is that your potential customer has actively taken the decision to search for something. This means that when they visit your website they are more likely to be in a state to buy. They have been pre-qualified by the Google Algorithm. Incidentally this is why Facebook advertising completely failed for us (and I suspect for a lot of businesses). Facebook advertising is much more aligned to a traditional publishers model of display advertising. Even though Facebook can highly target adverts based on demography, what they can’t do is target adverts based on intent. And in many cases intent is much much more import than demographics.
But isn’t Social Media important to improving our website search position?
Well Google is unclear on this at the moment. How much Google integrates social signals (i.e Facebook Likes and Shares, Twitter followers) into it’s search algorithm is unknown – whatever Social Media consultants tell you. And there is certainly a trust issue for Google to solve before it uses social signals as a measure of trust and authority and fully integrates them into its search results. For example, more and more websites are using incentive schemes to increase their ‘likes and shares’. This doesn’t make their websites more authoritative and useful in the eyes of Google and to end-users (and shouldn’t). So social media as a trust mechanism for Google to rank websites is going to be very problematic in producing good search results.
5 steps to get more traffic and customers to your website
So armed with this information here is my advice on the steps you should take and the order you should take them. I am certainly not saying that you shouldn’t engage on social media, only that you should do these steps first.
#1 – Do keyword research
Keyword research is in my view the most important first step to take before you do anything else. Use tools like Google traffic estimator, Google insights for Search or Ubersuggest.org to find out what your potential customers are searching on. You should spend a lot of time researching keywords – more than you probably think is necessary. You will find surprises. Your customers will often use different language to what you had expected. You will also get insight into whether there is a market for your product. For example if you discover that only 4 people are searching everyday for the thing you are trying sell then you have a product problem – but at least you have identified it early on!
#2 – Align your content plan to your keyword research
Once you have done your keyword research then write a website content plan. Your content plan should obviously cover the keywords that you have unearthed in step one. Your content plan will vary for each of your websites – but aim to write useful and interesting content. Don’t just write lots of low quality posts, stuffed with your keywords. You could also use a tool like Scribe to help you with this task, and you should definitely use the WordPress plugin WordPress SEO to make sure your content is properly optimised.
#3 – Analyse your traffic
Once your website is up and running make sure that you analyse your website traffic. I do this every day for Pootlepress – because I am slightly obsessed by statistics – but you should be doing this once a week at a minimum. And you should know your numbers. Key metrics for you to ‘know by heart’ are:
- Unique visitors
- Pages per visit
- Bounce rates
- Time on site
- Top exit pages
- Referral sites
#4 – Keep doing keyword research
Every few months I go back and re-do my keyword research. This is because the search market changes. You should keep track of your keywords and measure whether the search market for them is increasing or decreasing over a period. This will help you to adjust your content plan – and also your business plan!
#5 – Social media
Once you have those 4 steps firmly in place then integrate your Social Media plan. Facebook and Twitter have been really useful in helping Pootlepress develop stronger relationships with our customers, but without the first 4 steps we wouldn’t have had many customers in the first place.
What about the future?
Well who knows. But for a least the next 3 years, my view is that Google Search will still be the number 1 driver of traffic to our website. Google will face competition from real-time information sources like Twitter and social networks like Facebook, but because its algorithm solves the fundamental problem of matching user intent to information, it’s hard to see it being replaced in the short term.
But this is just my experience. I would love to hear yours, especially if you have a radically different one.