Do You Really Need Search Traffic?

Jennifer Laycock is starting an interesting experiment where she’s out to prove a business can survive without Google. Actually she’s out to prove that a business can survive without any search traffic at all. In time the search engines will be allowed back in, but the idea is to show that search traffic while useful is not necessary to build a business and drive both traffic and sales. The best part is we’ll all get to find out how it goes and most likely learn a lot along the way.

Jennifer will be blocking all search engines from indexing the Bento Yum site while she works to promote it in other ways. She’ll also be writing a series of articles that follows the progress of the business.

I thought this would be a good time to step back from seo for a moment and think about what it really means to your site and business. Do you really need search traffic to grow or maintain a successful business? Do you need to optimize your site to gain maximum visibility in search results? The key word in both sentences is ‘need’ and the answer to both questions is no.

The Role Of Search Traffic In Your Business

Think about your business and what it takes to make your business a success. You might have a variety of goals, but somewhere in there is possibly products and services you sell. You likely have some goals set for how many sales you need to make each month, quarter, or year. To get those sales you hope to drive traffic to your site and also hope a percentage that traffic goes on to make a purchase.

Search engines enter the picture as a source of traffic, but it’s important to remember they aren’t the only source of traffic. Someone who’s been to your site might email a friend and include a link to your site. People might find your site through an ad you placed in a newspaper or magazine. Perhaps someone finds your site through your forum signature or profile on a social media site. There ways to find you that don’t include a search engine.

Search traffic is good. If you’ve optimized well, the traffic can be highly targeted. You get to place your products right in front of someone at the exact moment they are looking to buy that product. Search engines are a way to reach people who’ve never heard of you before. They are not the only way for people to find you, though. Search engine marketing should be part of your overall marketing efforts, but it should not be the sum total of your marketing efforts.

Links Are About More Than Search Engines

Think about link building. When you’re building links into you site you may be thinking about how those links will help you rank better in search results and all the traffic the search engines will send your way. What about the links themselves? Those links can drive traffic directly. Place them on sites related to yours and the traffic that arrives through those links is also going to be targeted.

When you hear advice to look for relevant links a part of that advice is geared to get you to see that the link itself is valuable. Even if a search engine never finds that link or decides it’s not going to consider that link when ranking your page the link can and will drive traffic. Get the right kind of links and you won’t care what a search engine thinks of them. You’ll still have targeted traffic that is interested in your content and what you have for sale.

If the links are helping you rank better great, but even if your search traffic disappeared you’d still have targeted traffic that can sustain a successful business.

Do you want to know why the nofollow attribute didn’t work to stop spam comments on blogs and guestbooks? The idea was that since a search engine would ignore the link when considering rank, spammers would stop the automated submissions. Spammers aren’t interested in the ranking, though. They long ago discovered the links were valuable for their own sake. Spam 10,000 blogs and you have 10,000 potential entry points into your web page. People do click those links.

Please don’t take from this that you should start spamming blogs and guestbooks. You shouldn’t. Do take that links are valuable for their own sake and have benefits outside the concept of a search engine.

The goal of seo is to bring targeted traffic to your site. Smart SEOs and marketers know that targeted traffic doesn’t necessarily have to come from a search engine. A search engine can be a great source of that traffic, but search engines are not the only source of that traffic.

Search marketing should be a part of your marketing efforts, but that doesn’t mean you should focus on search marketing to the exclusion of everything else. If you don’t believe me maybe Jennifer will be able to convince you.

I’ll be looking forward to reading about Jennifer’s experiences with the site and learning some of the ways she promotes it. We should all be looking for new avenues to bring traffic and new channels through which to market our businesses. I’m sure Jennifer will help us find new ways to promote our businesses and generate ideas for how we can find even more ways. I’m looking forward to her new series of articles and I hope you will be too.

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  1. A lot of the time i thinik it depends on the site. Viral sites, Like youtube, Could probably survive perfectly well without SE traffic.

    I would be interested in knowing how much of youtubes traffic is from SE’s.
    I look forward to seeing her progress.

  2. That’s true that so many things are dependent on the site and business model. I actually think sites like YouTube do get plenty of traffic from search though. And with Universal Search Google is showing more and more YouTube videos in their results.

  3. I’ve been following Jennifer’s work for a long time. I would have been shocked to find out her experiment was a failure. Search traffic is like icing on a cake; the icing is sweet indeed but the cake is usually still great without it.

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