As I was reviewing my analytics this week, it struck me that the universal desire for basically all of us is to grow traffic.
We’d all like more traffic, all of the time.
Having that goal in mind drives more than a few bloggers to try black-hat techniques, or to bend the rules here and there.
Those with a longer term focus are usually more interested in slower, more lasting traffic-building techniques. They’re also aware that traffic isn’t just traffic—the traffic you want to come to your blog has certain characteristics.
The visitors you’re after are part of a certain group or audience united by interests, location, opinions, desires, and/or some other characteristics.
But sometimes really honing in on those qualities can be difficult—even if you have a clear idea of your ideal reader, and you’ve created a persona to reflect that.
So let’s look at what makes “good” traffic—the “right” kind of traffic for your blog.
The right traffic meets certain criteria that your blog or content requires of it.
Those criteria might be personal (e.g. you’re targeting women, so you buy advertising space on a popular women’s interest site) or behavioural (e.g. you’re targeting golfers who want to improve their game, so you begin to participate in a pro golf tips forum).
By qualifying your traffic, you’re making sure that these new readers have a need that is met obviously and completely by your blog.
In basic traffic terms, this is why, for example, you target niche-related keywords with quality content rather than buying a typo domain and just sticking ads on it. Both options attract traffic, but only one of them actually meets the needs of the people who visit.
The right traffic has already shown a strong tendency to do what you want.
These people are invested in your niche—and their own needs within that space. You might target traffic that has already bought, signed up, commented, or pursued knowledge elsewhere in your market.
This is why you prefer to guest post or advertise on well-known blogs with loyal followings, rather than new blogs without a proven audience track record.
While there’s nothing wrong with guest posting on the newer blog, you’ll have more certainty that any traffic your blog receives from the more established and respected sites—which have large subscriber lists and sell products—is more likely to be willing to complete similar behaviours on your blog.
The right traffic has key values that are closely aligned with those of your brand.
If your blog is to hit a deep chord with readers, it needs to project the values they hold dear. The more readers see themselves in your blog’s brand, the more loyal they’re likely to become, and the more sharing and word-of-mouth promotion they’ll do.
If your content resonates with the wrong kinds of people, they’ll be promoting your site to their peers—who are likely to be more of the wrong kinds of people. Over time this can really take your blog in the wrong direction.
This is why you’re selective about the social media contacts you respond to, the off-blog discussions you engage in, the comments you delete from your blog, the outlets you allow to join your affiliate programs, the keywords you target, and so on.
The right traffic exhibits strong sharing activity, either online or off.
Not all blogs target readers who use social media. But the right kind of traffic is made up of users who are proactive about recommending your blog when the need arises.
They may not be what we like to think of as top-level “influencers” on Facebook, but they value the opportunity to share good things with the people they know and care about.
This is why you encourage readers to share your content with peers—via share buttons, an email-this-article button, or offline promotions that encourage word of mouth—and why you proactively and generously share your expertise yourself.
Is this traffic right for you?
When I’m looking at promoting my blog, these are the kinds of things I consider. Those assessments aren’t always conscious—often they’re subconscious—but they do motivate me to make certain decisions about traffic-generation opportunities.
What other factors do you consider when you’re targeting traffic sources? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes the “right” kind of traffic in the comments.