If you go by what you read on various forums and blogs, the quantity of traffic you get is a key way to measure your site’s success.
I’ll disagree with that, and say that it’s the quality of your site’s traffic that’s important. I’ve written on a similar topic before, in my post about Qualifying Your Visitors, where I made the claim that your site will do better if you get less traffic rather than more.
The key is that most traffic is not qualified, or even targeted. I want to look at some of the major sources of traffic for sites, and how that traffic affects your site.
This is a big one that’s promoted in various Internet Marketing and blogging forums as being a great way to get traffic to your site. And it’s true, you do get traffic.
What most people don’t follow through with, though, is measuring the effect that traffic has on whatever action you want your visitors to take (click on ads, buy something, etc). When you do that, you discover that most of the Stumble Upon traffic doesn’t really want to do anything to make you money. They want to visit a site for a quick fix, usually a funny graphic or video, and move on.
So getting lots of traffic from Stumble Upon doesn’t really buy you anything, unless you can make money from the traffic itself. If you’re selling ads on a CPM (cost per impression) basis, then extra traffic earns you extra money.
Even the new Pay Per Play service, where you get paid when a visitor watches a 5 second video, if a bit of a gamble. Stumble Upon visitors are likely to leave when they see a video ad playing.
Digg is another service that’s touted as a great way to get tons of traffic.
But Digg users are even worse than Stumble Upon users at clicking on ads, so again the CPM model is your friend with this sort of traffic.
And with Digg, you have the extra problem that hitting the front page has brought many servers to their knees by driving too much traffic too quickly. Make sure you have quality hosting and a well optimized blog before getting this sort of traffic.
Pay Per Click
Pay per click (PPC) traffic is better than Digg or Stumble Upon, in that someone has searched in a search engine for something appropriate to your site. They are looking for something, and if you provide it you can have a far better conversion rate than with Digg or Stumble Upon.
But you’re paying per click, so you need to make sure that you can pay a low enough cost per click that you still make money at whatever your conversion rate turns out to be.
Organic traffic is traffic that results from people typing a keyword into a search engine, and clicking on your site in the search results.
This is the absolute best sort of traffic, since it has a conversion rate similar to PPC, but you don’t have to pay for it.
Referral traffic is traffic you get from other sites which have linked to your site.
This is hit or miss, largely depending on which site has linked to you and how relevant that site is to yours. Get a good match with a high traffic site, and the referral traffic could be very profitable. Get a bad match or a low traffic site, and it’ll be useless.
Hopefully this post encourages you to think not only about your raw traffic numbers, but about the sources of that traffic. If you aren’t measuring your conversion rate so you can evaluate which is the most effective source of traffic for your site, you need to start, now.