I’m talking about traffic.
And not the organic type that Google sends you.
If you want to out rank your competitors, then traffic is a user signal that Google is looking at very closely.
And it makes sense.
Google’s job is to get as many eye balls onto its paid ads as possible.
But in order to do that, it has to serve the common market first.
Returning Relevant Results
Which means displaying the best (and relevant) results that a user can find when they type something into the search bar.
In the past few years, social media has been growing in importance as a ranking factor in the algorithm.
The search engines have been forced to pay attention to what’s happening on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube because that’s where most of the web traffic is today.
In order to stay relevant to its users, Google has to display what’s current. And it can’t do that only by following links, which was the old way.
Google has to follow trends and the latest news as it breaks – and when something important happens, most users jump onto Twitter or Facebook first, and only after the news has broken do they start searching on traditional news sites like Fox, CNN or the BBC.
Reverse Engineering The Algorithm
So what does traffic have to do with the current algorithm?
Well it’s like with most factors when it comes to reverse engineering what it takes to rank. Marketers will sooner or later find a way to work out (through testing) what’s important and what isn’t.
The search engines can’t hide their cards. There will always be 10 results listed on the front page of the search results.
As long as you understand why those websites are on the front page, you can figure out what changes to make to your own site.
That works to an extent when it comes to traditional factors like links, website authority (pages indexed), On Page SEO and so on.
But figuring out other user signals like the number of social shares is a little harder, particularly if that website doesn’t have a social shares plugin installed.
Ranking In A Competitive Market
And this is the key point: the search engines don’t want their algorithm to be reverse engineered, which is understandable.
We’ve been through this in the noughties (2000’s) when ranking a website was as easy as blasting it with 10,000 links using automated software tools.
The current algorithm is far more sophisticated. If you want to rank, you’ve got to make a genuine effort to create good content and syndicate that across different platforms on the Internet to encourage natural sharing.
But social shares and backlinks will only get you so far.
If you’re in a competitive market, Google will be analysing all the websites and see that they all have good backlinks, they all have good On Page SEO and they’re all getting shares across social media.
So how does it work out which site to rank?
The solution is traffic.
Where To Get Traffic
If you want to figure out how your website (or YouTube video) is getting its traffic, use the Google Analytics tool.
Google knows where traffic is coming from and the more traffic you get, in combination with social shares and backlinks, the more likely it will put you higher as a relevant result in its search engine.
Think about how things work naturally across the Internet. If a piece of content is going truly viral, then traffic will flow from social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the source of where that content originates from.
So whilst it’s possible to manipulate backlinks and social shares, it’s not as easy to manipulate traffic.
At least not the traffic that flows directly from social platforms – unless your content really is getting shared naturally.
So what should you do?
Focus your efforts on getting traffic through other mediums instead of relying purely on the search engines.
Free vs Paid Traffic
If You Want Free Traffic:
- Visit relevant forums
- Join Facebook groups
- Put up some YouTube videos
- Get involved with discussions on LinkedIn
If you’ve got little or no budget and time on your hands then free traffic is the way forward for you.
If You Want Paid Traffic:
If on the other hand you’re time poor and have even a little budget to test with then you may want to focus on paid traffic techniques:
- Banner ads
- LinkedIn ads.
Just don’t expect a rankings boost if you’re paying for traffic with AdWords (through Google or YouTube). Google can track what’s going on with its own platforms.
We’ve done the testing for you and relevant traffic is a key differentiator right now. The more traffic that Google sees your site getting, the more it’s going to pay attention to your site and reward you with even more organic traffic.
Now go ahead and make use of this.
Click one of the share buttons below if you found this post helpful.