Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / December 3rd, 2008

Quantity Versus Quality in SEM and Web Site Traffic

Ever since my little Britney Spears incident that spiked our traffic earlier this year, I’ve been keeping a tight watch on our corporate Web site’s traffic reports.  One thing I’ve noticed is a significant amount of traffic coming from the vague keyword “design.”  After looking at it for awhile now, I finally figured out where that is coming from.

I spent a few minutes really tearing through our ClickTracks reports and found that over the last 12 months, 5.4% of our traffic came from people searching the keyword “design.”  At the same time, 37% of our traffic came from Google, far and away the largest referrer we have, so I just assumed the “design” traffic was coming from Google.  I checked page after page in the results with no luck. 

I looked in the blog, image, and news searches too with no luck. Today I found a new report that breaks things down by keyword and by search engine.  This was the puzzle piece I’d been missing.  I was finally able to link the “design” traffic to windows live search.  It turns out 70% of the traffic from Live.com was from that keyword.  On digging a bit further, I found that we’re number 45 for that search term.  Not great, but not too shabby either for such a generic keyword.

On its face this is a good thing for our company.  It drives a ton of traffic and in theory those should turn in to leads.  However I don’t think that’s the case.  ClickTracks is nice enough to show us how long the average visit is for users coming in to our site this way.  It’s a dismal four seconds.  Compare that to the 128 second average from google searches for “web design company.”  This tells me that people searching for design aren’t searching for companies like ours. 

The lesson here is to not focus on the quantity of traffic but rather on its quality.  Would you rather have only 5 hits in a day from people looking for exactly what you do, or 500 hits that may or may not be on point?  For me, I’d take the quality any day. 

Now if I can only figure out why 1.2% of our traffic comes from the keyword “posts” on live.com.  First person to show me what page our link is on there gets a free webcam.