Talking tech since 2003

In the past, I have both praised and criticized Twitter with regard to its ability to drive traffic to a website.  There is no question that Twitter is one of the all-time great link juicing tools out there.  It may be the best, most legitimate, and most effective link juicing tool ever created, especially if you have a large following and with the integration into search engines such as Google and Bing.  But something that has been bothering me for the past year or so (since Twitter really exploded) is does Twitter really bring any long-term and/or residual traffic to a website.  I’ve combed through analytics over the past year and came to the conclusion that Twitter does not bring much (if any) residual traffic after the initial inflow.

I have included 4 screenshots (see below) from Google Analytics which is pretty much a representative sample of what each tweet looks like in terms of visits.  However, keep in mind, Analytics is only able to see the referring source if it came directly from that tweet.  This means that links within tweets which were clicked directly within someones feed, directly from my profile, or other possible miscellaneous ways were not accounted for.  That being said, I still think this gives you a pretty good idea of what happens to older tweets.

A good question to ask now is, what exactly does this mean?   It means if you rely solely (or a lot) on Twitter for pushing traffic to your site – you are in trouble.  A lot of newer news and technology oriented sites seem to take this approach of trying to amass this huge Twitter following with hopes that people will see their content, read it, and then share it elsewhere.  While that is great if it is in fact actually happening, if it’s not happening, which is usually the case, then your hard work goes unnoticed.  After a few weeks of this occurring, most people feel like they are not getting anywhere and give up and call it quits.

The problem at hand here is more common then you may realize and can take place in many shapes and forms.  Essentially what you are doing is putting all of your eggs in one basket.  Forgive me for the cliche saying, but it’s true.  You should never rely on one source to generate traffic for your site.  The more, the better.  Similarly to how most businesses would love to have more than one revenue stream, a website should have more than one source of traffic.  So how do you go about fixing this problem?  It’s not easy, but it is doable.

The first thing you should do is check your Google PageRank, if your websites pagerank is less than 4 (the highest is 10), you have a lot of work cut out for you.  For some ideas on how to improve your PageRank check out my post here.  Other tips I can provide include registering your domain for an extended period of time (e.g. 10 years at a time), that will definitely score points with Google.  When it comes to building a successful site it’s important that you do your research and participate in other communities and sites first to build up a good reputation, you can find more information on that in my post on building a successful site.  Another key is developing the right content for your audience.  If you do video content, make sure you accompany the video with a complete write-up.  Remember that search engines cannot search within videos (yet), so having the text along with the video will definitely help.

In my personal experience, I have found good search engine results along with a mix of social media services such as tweeting new posts and posting links on Facebook to prove effective.  That being said, I think the best source for driving traffic aside from search engines is YouTube.  If you can build up a YouTube following, it will help.  Start doing screen casts if you are not comfortable in front of the camera, you have no idea how much traffic YouTube can drive to a website.  Hint: it’s much more than Twitter (at least for me).

[Image credit: libraryman/flickr]

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