Did you ever have to convince someone that getting lots of traffic is not the point of SEO? Check out this case study to see just how useless traffic can be.
Most of our company blog's traffic comes from people who are interested in SEO, internet marketing and social media. Makes sense, right? But we also get a significant amount of visitors each month because we are the web's authoritative source on a subject that has nothing to do with that field: summary of Paul McHenry Roberts' essay about writing college compositions entitled, "How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Words."
Where did that come from? you ask. And how on earth can you title yourself "the web's authoritative source" on it?
The first question is easy enough. Back when the post on How To Say Nothing in 500 Words was published, our blog was less a company blog focused on internet marketing and more a collage of posts about "SEO, QA, and Life." So, as the original post says, "[I] was pleasantly surprised to find a subject that suits everything I am involved with now-a-days (in no particular order): Blogging, SEO, QA, Testing, and Business! No surprise really, because good writing skills are important for so many things in our daily life."
That's how it got published. How it got to be the web's authoritative source was the vanishing of other sources on the internet, namely the two we had linked to in the blog post: doshdosh.com's article about the essay, and the full essay itself on a college student's website. Both pages are now defunct: doshdosh.com is no longer in existence – to the chagrin of many in the internet community – and the student's website? Well, maybe he graduated and left his website behind. The link doesn't work any more.
(If anyone happens to be interested in reading it, the only working link I could find among a few others that didn't – this essay has bad luck – is a Word file download from clayton.edu. The URL is abbreviated in the search results, otherwise I would put it here, but if you google "how to say nothing in 500 words", I see it as the third result.)
So if you google "how to say nothing in 500 words summary," we come up first. And we get traffic from that and all sorts of variations: "how to say nothing in 500 words by paul mchenry roberts," "how to say nothing in 500 words outline." We used to get more traffic from "how to say nothing in 500 words by paul roberts," but we get less now, probably because more posts were written over the years, one very recently which is now ranking the highest for "how to say nothing in 500 words."
Also interesting: check out the visitor pattern for this post since March 2009 (when we migrated the blog to our website).
Not major traffic until that first big spike around September 2010, again in January 2011, and our biggest season ever in August 2011. Notice a pattern? That would be when college semesters start – and How To Say Nothing in 500 Words is an essay on writing college compositions well. Who's guessing that some college English professors out there are giving an assignment to read and write something on this essay? And some students don't actually want to read the whole essay…?
So why am I sharing this with you? This blog is about internet marketing – what does it have to do with that?
Many website owners see internet marketing and SEO as getting more traffic to your website. But if you get lots and lots of traffic like the traffic we're getting to this post – you got nothing. I'm sure most people reading this blog are aware of this in concept, but it sometimes helps to have a very obvious case to show clients – or to remind ourselves.
In an attempt to try to get something out of all that traffic, I put a Kissinsights survey on the page (great free program, by the way – if you haven't seen it yet, worth checking out) asking visitors what they were hoping to find. I thought maybe if I got a response, I could figure out some way to convert this traffic, turn them on to something we offer, get them to subscribe to the blog…
Well, about two months later and 210 views of the survey – no one has responded. I guess this traffic is very interaction-resistant. Which makes sense – they probably have only an hour or so left to finish that assignment before they have to go to class.