Google or Facebook for the best web traffic?

Probably the most popular question I get asked is “how do I get more traffic to my website?” It is, of course, the wrong question. The real question that people are asking is “how do I get more of the right kind of traffic of people that are going to buy from me to my website?”

Getting people to visit your website is relatively straightforward. But getting the right kind of people – your ideal customer – is, in fact, even easier. At least, that is, if you approach it well. All too often when I am running masterclasses, people appear to be after as much traffic as they can get as though it is some kind of competition. The delegates at these masterclasses often seem to want as much traffic as possible; they seem to think that this is the right thing to do. The idea is that if you get enough people to pass by your website, you’ll get more customers.

That has some merit; indeed it is highly likely that you will get more business by merely increasing the number of website visitors you get. However, that’s a rather tough way of doing business. Think of it this way. If you wanted £100,000 in the next three months, there are two rather extreme ways you could go about it legally. One is to sell something worth one pound to 100,000 people. The other is to sell something worth £100,000 to just one person. What’s the easiest thing to do? Find 100,000 people or locate that one person willing to part with £100,000? The answer is that it is going to be easier to find the single person than to try and attract 100,000 people. In other words, you might only need one person to visit your website, not hundreds of thousands. It just has to be the right person.

When I ask CEOs why they are seeking increased traffic and not trying to achieve the right traffic, they tend to trot out some line about the quality drops out of the quantity. In other words, if you just get more and more visitors somewhere in amongst them you must be able to find the real customers you are aiming to reach. I look at it the other way round. Surely it is easier to work out who you really want to visit your website and then go and get them?

But where from? How do you get the right kind of people to visit your site?

Some new research shows us one way of thinking about this. Website traffic tends to come from people who already know about our business in some way, or they have clicked on a link somewhere else on the World Wide Web. That link might be on Google when they search for something related to what we sell. Or it might be a link on Facebook or Twitter. It could even be a link on someone else’s website or a review app.

However, the bulk of visits to websites come from two primary sources. On average, 40% of all website visits come from Facebook, and 37% of visits come from Google. In other words, these two sites are responsible for almost 80% of all website traffic. Yes, you read that right…! The remaining 20% comes from other social networks, referrals, emails and so on.

But averages are just that. When you dig into more detail into this research, you discover, for example, that when it comes to the entertainment sector, 61% of all website traffic arises from Facebook, pushing Google well out of the running. For technology firms, the reverse is true with 61% of traffic originating from Google. In the world of job recruitment, 84% of traffic comes from Google, 12% from Facebook leaving 4% to be fought over by LinkedIn and the rest of the web.

What this study reveals is that the best source of traffic to a website depends upon the sector in which you work. There is no “typical” source of clicks. If you are in the business-to-business arena, for instance, Google provides about 47% of traffic, but 39% comes from “other” sources, pushing Facebook down to just 14% of traffic. Those other sources are clearly quite important and include email marketing, referrals, offline marketing and so on.

So the answer to the often-asked question of how do I get more traffic is not to say “It’s equally divided between promoting your business on Google and Facebook” but to say “what sector are you in?” That will then help determine where you should focus your efforts on gaining traffic. Then all you need to do is to ask your target customers what they do on Google or “Other” sources, for instance. Then you will know exactly where to go and what to do to attract the customers you want, rather than just aiming at everyone who opens up Google and Facebook. That will work, but it’s much tougher.

So is it Google or Facebook that is best for your web traffic? It could be either, neither or both. The answer is to dig into the data and find out what works best for your sector. That will mean you are much more liekly to get the right kind of traffic, rather than any traffic.

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