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Traffic Hits: Choose Quality over Quantity

traffic-hitsIf you’re a new-ish blogger like me, you probably share my not-so-secret obsession.

Traffic.

If you had never gotten into blogging you’d probably have a pretty negative impression of that word. For non-bloggers “traffic” conjures images of bumper to bumper commuters stacked up on the 101 frustrated and contemplating going all Michael Douglas on each other’s asses.

But that’s not what it means to you… to us.

To a blogger, traffic is an attractive… even sexy word. It’s the narcotic of choice in the blogosphere.

“If only I could get some more traffic, I know my blog would be a huge hit.”

We’ve all thought that – and we all know the frustration of watching visitors drip in one by one like a not-so-leaky faucet instead of flooding in like a big, cool wave.

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that in the early stages of building your audience, a lack of traffic doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re doing something wrong.

The bad news is that lack of traffic early on is the norm. It’s something you need to endure and overcome to get from square one until you get where you want to be.

Come to think of it, that’s not really even bad news. That’s just how things work on this planet. You put in the time, you perfect your craft, and you earn your stripes just like everyone else.

I have spent over 20 years in consumer and business to business sales from local to national levels. And you don’t spend that long in such a competitive environment without learning a little bit about what makes people successful. One thing I can tell you for sure is that there is no such thing as instant success that lasts.

And I’m finding that to be just as true online as it is offline.

Dreams Of A Traffic Tsunami

When you’re new to the blogging game, it’s easy to get obsessed with devising some dramatic scheme that attracts massive amounts of traffic quickly. I feel like that mentality throws newer bloggers off their game and diverts attention from the things they should be doing to build a lasting, thriving audience.

What we should be doing is tightly defining our niches, relentlessly improving our writing, forming strong connections with other bloggers, seeking out educational opportunities from qualified mentors, and efficiently promoting our work.

I’m not suggesting you should ignore traffic generation. Not at all. But I am suggesting that you adopt a different attitude toward it.

The experts would tell you that when you define your target audience, you should hone it down to such minute detail that you can actually picture a single individual who represents your audience.

I decided early on to take a very focused approach to building my audience. Sure I want a lot of traffic hits. Who doesn’t?

But I’ve learned enough at this point to know that what I really want is a lot of quality traffic. In fact, I get excited about even a moderate amount of quality traffic.

What Does Quality Traffic Look Like?

Recently, I began guest posting on other sites. My blog is about bringing real world business strategies online. I write about things like market creation, content marketing, selling with integrity, and the human side of business. So when I began to guest post, I targeted blogs whose audiences I felt would relate to those topics.

I was very fortunate to have landed some posts on some great sites that fit wonderfully with my topics: Write To Done (writing and content creation), Goodlife Zen (the human side and productivity) and here on Mirasee (marketing and sales).

All three guest posts brought a spike in traffic hits and new subscribers. All three posts also increased my traffic baseline. That means that after the spike went away, my average daily visits got a little higher – and stayed there.

Mirasee Data

While all three posts performed very well, the clearest illustration of quality traffic, coincidentally, came from you all here at Mirasee. Let’s take a look.

FPM_GP_01

 

Ok. So the raw numbers are unimpressive at first blush. But you want the real story, right? This is it. The traffic looks a lot like what you might expect from a blog that started less than two months before this screen shot was taken.

There is an interesting lesson imbedded in these numbers.

Quality vs. Quantity

I decided to look at more than bulk traffic or numbers of subscribers when evaluating the quality of the traffic I received from these three guest posts. I wanted to know how many of my new visitors not only arrived on my landing page – but stayed and looked around a while.

Guest Post 1: Write To Done


FPM_GP_02

You might argue that 27 hits from my Write To Done post is nothing to do cartwheels over. I disagree.

First of all, many of those “direct” visits can be contributed to this post. Direct traffic may include book marks and such – but it also includes traffic that Google isn’t able to attribute a referral source to. So if your direct traffic is normally 50 and you see it shoot up to 76 after a guest post like in this example, it’s likely the guest post had something to do with it.

Of those 27 visitors, 24 subscribed to my email list. The post also received 22 Google +1’s, 216 tweets, 88 likes, 59 stumbles, and 83 comments.

Possibly the most obvious indicator of the quality of the traffic is the bounce rate. Put simply, the bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who came to my blog, looked at one page, and left.

What’s a good bounce rate? That depends who you ask. Most experts contend that 60% to 70% is a healthy range – and for the purposes of this post, we’ll stick with that.

My bounce rate for visitors from this post was about 52%. That’s really good by any standard. So while this post didn’t generate huge numbers of visits, those who came to my blog from this post stayed for a while, subscribed, and still continue to come read my new content. I put that in the quality traffic category.

Guest Post 2: Goodlife Zen

FPM_GP_03

My Goodlife Zen post yielded 55 visits and 172 direct visits. I can confidently say that my one month old blog (at the time) wasn’t routinely getting that type of direct traffic prior to this guest post.

Of the 55 visitors I can definitely attribute to this guest post, 41 subscribed, I received 28 comments, 32 tweets, 24 likes, and 112 Stumbles. The bounce rate for this post was again healthy – right about 55%. A high percentage of those people who visited and stuck around for a while. Many subscribed. Quality traffic!

Guest Post 3: Mirasee

FPM_GP_01

I said earlier that I think the highest quality traffic actually came from my Mirasee post. You might say, “But that post isn’t even the biggest spike!” You’re right. It’s not, but let me show you why I believe it is high quality traffic.


FPM_GP_04

Over four days, I received 75 visits from the post. The post also yielded 44 comments, 66 tweets, 33 Facebook shares, 10 LinkedIn shares, 16 Google +1’s, and 24 subscribers.

Good but not great, right? Not so fast.

Check out the bounce rate from Mirasee visitors. 37%!!!

That’s about twice as good as what the experts would call a healthy bounce rate. It seems Mirasee readers liked what they saw at my site.

But that’s not even the whole story.

Email Engagement

On my blog, I have a policy of sending a personal email to each new subscriber. No autoresponders or mail services involved. I actually write to each person thanking them for subscribing and asking them for their feedback on the site.

Normally, maybe one of every 20 new subscribers will write back. With this Mirasee post, almost half replied back to me – and some of those email conversations continued for weeks after the post. It was an absolute blast!

That’s the kind of traffic hit I want every single day: quality traffic.

How To Generate Quality Traffic

So how did I engineer this influx of quality traffic? It was really pretty simple. I have no secrets, and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

1: Target quality blogs relevant to your topic to guest post for
The three guest posts mentioned in this post were all on blogs whose topics either overlapped with or were very similar to my topics.

2: Write quality content
There is no substitute for quality. When you do get the opportunity to

pitch a guest post to a relevant, popular bog – make it count. It should be your best work. And when your guest post visitors arrive on your site – make sure there’s high quality content waiting for them there, too.

3: Personally engage your new visitors
When you get new visitors from a guest post, touch each and every one of them personally. Odds are they visit tons of different blogs. What exactly is it about yours that will stand out? (The answer should be you.) Reach out, get to know them, and ask for their feedback. Engaged readers interact – and share!

That’s it. So if you’re in the same boat as I am (building your audience in the early stages and trying to figure out how to get traffic to your blog) forget about those crazy schemes to attract hoards of people. Focus on attracting the right people and create quality traffic.

So What About You?

Share your quality and quantity traffic stories us.
Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Gary Korisko

Gary Korisko writes about The Art of Genuine Influence on his blog Reboot Authentic. Download his free eBook, How to Alienate All The Right People - a real world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.

42 comments

  1. Yay, Gary! I was beginning to think you’d dropped out of the Scavenger Hunt, but you were really holed up in your writer cave creating great content and getting ready for that final push! Not to mention Master Class homework.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Elizabeth.

      It’s not so much the writer cave making the hunt a challenge – it’s the job. i do my writing primarily nights and weekends. But either way I’m still playing. Don’t know that I’ll give anyone a run for their money, but i’m plugging along 🙂

      Thanks for saying hi!

      1. Lee J Tyler says:

        Um, everyone. Gary is just very humble. Please see comment above from Mary Jaksch. (You can kick me later, Gary. Someone had to say something to that last comment ;).

        1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Thank you, Lee. I just meant that there are several people who are doing such an *outstanding* job in the scavenger hunt that I don’t see myself catching them.

          It’s been a very interesting and entertaining exercise to be a part of!

  2. lisa collins says:

    Good Post and thank You so much for the reminder that quality is so much more important than quantity. Also thank you for providing us with some great examples likes Google analytics . Simple and easily understood.

  3. Amit Amin says:

    I don’t know – I don’t have data that identifies individual subscribers as coming from SEO or referral. All I know is 1) visitors from search are 70% less likely to subscribe, and 2) bounce rates for search traffic is 15% higher than referral traffic.

    I’m not sure how to go about figuring that out, besides sending out a survey of some sort…

  4. Amit Amin says:

    Hah! I’m so guilty of this. At every step of the way, I’ve chosen quantity over quality.

    It’s probably one reason my list has such a terrible click-through rate – I get most of my subscribers through SEO. At some point, I’m going to have to replace my brute-force approach with something more targeted…

  5. Shannon Lagasse says:

    Oohhh… I love it!

    Favorite line: “What stands out about your website? (The answer should be YOU).”

    Before the Scavenger Hunt, I wasn’t really doing a lot of guest posting. Now, I consider it to be one of the best tools for finding new prospects.

    I look for people who aren’t just in my niche, but people who serve my niche. For instance, another health coach might be working with some clients who have emotional eating issues; a business coach might have stressed out and overwhelmed small business owners who use food to calm their stress; personal trainers are helping people lose weight and get in shape – often these people have food issues. I like to think a little outside the box: Who ELSE serves my niche market and how could I benefit their unique set of readers? (Emotional eaters who are in business for themselves, who want to lose weight, etc.)

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Shannon:

      You clearly get it – and it sounds like you have some really positive things going on. I’m your Masterclass classmate! Good to meet you. 🙂

      As a non-20-year-old (way to skirt the issue, huh?) who travels for work extensively and might not be so fussy about his diet, it sounds like I may need to pay a visit to your site, too!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Best of luck with your guest posting campaign. Sounds like you’re all over it!

      1. Shannon Lagasse says:

        Gary!

        Nice to meet you as well!

        Would love to have you over on the site! Let me know what you think. I focus primarily on women, but love to hear what goes on for men so that I can help them, too. If you have any questions, please send them my way. I’m putting together a new section for the blog to address questions from readers.

  6. Bobbi says:

    Gary, great stuff as usual. I’m glad that you showed the nitty-gritty of how even 27 visitors can be extremely important from one guest post.

  7. Patti says:

    Very informative article, not only regarding quality traffic but I also appreciated the examples of using Google Analytics and showing us which stats should be key to review.
    You certainly were right about traffic being a narcotic to the beginning blogger, at least for me. I remember when I first started blogging that I would check the stats on my web site control panel several times a day … even though my web host only updated them once every day or two! Still shaking my head about that one.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yeah – analytics are a double-edged sword. If you don’t watch them, you have no clue what is and is not working for you. If you watch them too much, you can get obsessed instead of working on things that can move you forward.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Great article and so important. I hosted a twitter chat last weekend and we talked about Google Analytics. One of the things I said was to watch the time on site and bounce rate. If one site sent you 100 visits but spent only a few seconds on your site and bounced right off, it’s LESS of a success than a site that sent 30 visits that stayed for a long time and viewed many pages.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Exactly, Kathleen. You nailed it.

      Like I said in the post… I get excited over even a moderate amount of good, quality traffic. Thanks for sharing that!

  9. Jim Bessey | SoWriteUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Nice job all around, Gary —

    Love your Stats screenshots (I sent you a query about this).

    Your outreach certainly works. How many months ago did I receive that first “Hi there!” email from you? Since then, you’ve become a trusted friend and adviser.

    You’ve come a long way in earning the “Authentic” part of your brand!

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Great point, Jim.

      You’re right – if you sincerely reach out subscribers do become friends and associates. And in my opinion, it’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the blogging experience.

  10. Casey Berman says:

    Hi Gary

    I am a big fan of your site and book, and this post hit the nail right on the head. I have worked hard in the “real” (offline) world building businesses, and am steadily growing my blog, but I fall prey to that idea that my online blog needs to grow traffic asap from day 1. So nice to get a refresher like this.

    I always wanted to send personal notes to all my new subscribers, but thought it might be weird or take too much time or just . . . whatever. In fact, it’s courteous and ensures personal contact! I love it, thanks.

    Casey

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Casey!

      That sounds just like me – the offline experience translating to online. I get impatient with growth, too. But it helps to remember that you didn’t accomplish everything you’ve accomplished offline overnight either. It all takes time.

      I’m glad to hear you enjoy the blog – and my eBook. Thank you for jumping into the conversation!

  11. Matt ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gary,

    Brilliant post here, and the other two as well. Your steps are clear and transparent. Your writing is engaging, entertaining and enlightening. I can see the power behind why each post you write goes viral, beyond your outlined approach.

    We just had our first guest post published. I am seeing some of the same relational trends in my metrics, that you case studied here. I’m working hard on my piece for firepolemarketing! ;). This blog is amongst the best of the best, thanks in large part, to contributors such as yourself.

    -Matt

  12. Gary, thanks for the reminder that quality is so much more important than quantity.

    In our first year blogging, we were looking pretty much at numbers, wanting more traffic and more subscribers. Similarly, we looked at blog comments (or lack thereof) as an indication of our readers’ interest.

    But then we realized that though we didn’t have tons of followers or comments, we did get personal emails from readers with questions and comments, and some of those communications went back and forth several times.

    We also found that many of our readers did not spend a lot of time online or reading blogs, so to be on their short list was pretty cool.

    Now we’ll take quality over quantity any day! The numbers creep up little by little, but they’re good solid numbers.

    ~Marie

    1. Marie, that’s a really good insight about your readers not spending much time online. I’ve had people e-mail me for long-term conversations about genealogy and family history because they saw my blog, but they’ve never ever left a comment.

    2. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Your story is another good example of the fact that quality might look different in different situations. Some audiences love leaving comments, some don’t as much. Some share content more than others etc.

      Thanks for your comment

  13. Iain says:

    I try to send a personal email to each of my new subscribers, but I am not as vigilant as I should be.

    It is most definitely a great way to solidify those first impressions. I can’t say that I have ever gotten a personal email from anyone that I have subscribed to yet.

    I feel that if I were to get a personal email, I would be delighted because it happens so infrequently.

    Great job Gary.

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You’re right – it does make a difference. We all like to feel like we matter – and a short (sincere) welcome helps. Thanks for the comment, Iain.

      1. Iain says:

        It is all about the little things right. Those little actions add up to create a great brand for that person.

  14. Hey Gary – this is a very interesting analysis of what ‘quality traffic’ is.

    I think there is another factor: how well the *post topic* sits with the relevant host blog. What I mean is that the stats could well differ depending on the post topic.

    You’re due soon to write another guest post for WritetoDone.com (yes, folks – this brilliant guy is in demand!). It would be interesting to choose a topic that is closely focused on what WTD readers want and love – and then to see how the stats compare to your previous result on WTD.

    The main thing is: WTD readers really like you.
    Let’s see if we can make them ‘luurve’ you 😉

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Beating the last couple on WTD will be a trick. They were both pretty good to me and went over well with shares and comments. But I’m up for it. The experiment is on!!

      (and thank you, Mary!)

  15. Gary,

    Likening online website traffic to a drug (addiction) is frighteningly accurate. When you are first starting out, the first few visitors create a massive high (you vigilantly check your stats, you call everyone you know, you can’t stop smiling…). But soon, a few visitors a day no longer produces the same rush. You want more. You NEED more. Sometimes you even contemplate doing *bad* things, just to get MORE traffic… 🙂

    Thanks for putting things into perspective! You are so right that quality trumps quantity when it comes to traffic. And the personal email to new subscribers idea is gold! I’m on it!

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I’m relieved you added that smiley, Kimberly. you were scaring me there for a second!

      The personal email takes time, but it’s a great way to really get to know your audience. Maybe one day it “won’t scale” but until that day, I’m hooked! I just got one more reply to one while I was typing this.

      I’m glad you liked the post… and your site is looking great by the way!

  16. Lee J Tyler says:

    While looking at your numbers after Write to Done, I noticed the great bounce rate. I was one of those people and I can say, even before that guest post, I was a visitor who ‘stuck around’ precisely because of your great content. Which led me to subscribe the next time I visited.
    The fact that lovers of Firepole were doubly engaged follows along your point in that your content is immediately relevant to those who read this post (and subscribe; like me). Very powerful analysis.
    Being a subscriber of your blog, I can vouch for your direct involvement in both email and other social platforms. It makes a huge difference in how I view your email arriving at my inbox compared to all of the other newsletters. Danny and Meghan do the same thing so it makes the emails feel like they are from friends rather than ‘just another newsletter’. That’s huge in this day and age.
    Great article, as always. Always amazed at how you do it all!

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Very nice of you, Lee.

      I agree that Danny and Megan are great examples. They always answer emails and are highly interactive. You’re right that when someone is “real” with you, their becomes familiarity and even fondness with their emails.

      Good points & thanks for saying all that nice stuff up there! 🙂 I appreciate it.

  17. Hi Gary,

    This was a great article. I’ve known for a while that just getting the numbers was not the whole story. But this is the first article I’ve read that really spelled out what “quality traffic” is (or can be). I especially like that you show measurable stats from your web logs that show the quality.

    Having the stats to back up mushy “but I think this helped” feelings (or shut down the people who base all their opinions on their website on feelings and intuition will be really helpful.

    Now, of course, I have to get out there and actually GET that traffic. 🙂 Although, unlike Quinn, I don’t yet have my free offer complete (it’s taking a lot longer than I expected *sigh*).

    Thanks for the great article.
    Jenn

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Give me people who want to interact any day, Jennifer!

      It’s funny – the stats show it AND the behavior of the visitors does, too. I credit the host site owners (Danny, Corbett Barr, Mary Jaksch etc.) for having engaged audiences.

      Of course when they do show up, you have to reach out your hand and do your part.

      Thanks for the comment!

  18. cubicle free Quinn says:

    Hi Gary,
    Your title could also be: Blog Traffic: “How to Turn Quality Traffic Into Customers For Life” – I received one of your personal emails when I joined you and I wanted to let everyone know how effective that is.
    As a result of Danny’s excellent course I have just started to make available my free giveaway.
    I too have also been following up with emails to everyone. I am finding that it is building really meaningful relationships and also learn very quickly what more I can do to help people. Highly recommended to anyone starting out. Thanks!
    Quinn

    1. Gary Korisko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hello again Quinn. Funny how we keep running into each other online 🙂 I must be running in the right circles these days.

      You’re right about taking the time to email. I’ve gotten to know So many great people over time that way. It’s time consuming but completely worth it.

      An interesting side note: When you get new subscribers from a guest post and email them personally – they way they respond *very* much reflects the personality of the site they came from.

      Thanks for breaking the ice in here. Great points!

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