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Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

Targeting: More Traffic Isn't Always Better

Author: Jeremy Morgan

Back in the early days of SEO, there was a very popular tactic for increasing web traffic. People were abusing meta tags and title tags, and filling the bottom of their pages with keywords. Such tactics would never get you anywhere today, but back then it really worked. And you could fill up your site with “britney spears” keywords and get a load of traffic. So that’s what people did.

A client of mine heard about this trick on the web. He asked me, to do this to all his pages. His website was selling widgets, but he wanted a chunk of the “britney spears” traffic, and “Pamela Anderson Pictures” etc. He figured with ten thousand new people a day, some of them were bound to buy some widgets. I explained that this was a futile effort and not only would he be getting a bunch of poorly targeted traffic, raising his bandwidth needlessly, but he made the site look really tacky. This was the reason I refused to do it, above all, if I was going to put my name on a website, I didn’t want it to look like crap, with 500 britney and porn keywords spammed all over the bottom of it.

I don’t know how that customer’s project turned out. He found someone to add those keywords to his site. If he did get any traffic, I doubt they bought widgets. The funny thing is, that was the early 2000s, and now in 2007, I still get the same sort of requests, almost weekly. Why do people want to do this?

Targeting is everything.

If you get ten thousand people looking for Britney Spears photos, and they find your widgets, they are not going to stay. Unless this person has some sort of need or connection to your widget, they will hit the back button and go elsewhere. You’ll still be stuck with the bandwidth bill. And worse yet, if they are using the Google or Yahoo toolbars, the search engines will get this data back and start to think your site is of poor quality, because people don’t stay there.

Targeting is extremely important. If you target the wrong market, you can easily end up making expensive changes until you get it right. It’s easier to change your strategy before you implement it. So don’t be afraid to take some time figuring it out. Your ideal market of course is one of good opportunity, that you are able to compete in. You don’t want to target too small of a segment, but you also don’t want to get into a market you cannot compete in.

Adwords Targeting

I tell my clients there are generally three routes you can go with adwords. You can put a whole pile of money into the biggest bids, on the best keywords. For some companies, this still only ends up being $20-$30 a day. For some it can reach thousands. And for some companies, this is the best strategy for them.

Another method, is to put in as many keywords, with very low bids, and get gobs of traffic for much cheaper. This might sound like a good deal to you, if you’re only paying five cents a click, and you are getting thousands of clicks a day for cheap, that’s probably the best deal right? I usually advise my clients against this.

The third method is to find the most variations on a targeted term, and put in midrange bids on each of them. This prevents you from spending all your budget on a few clicks, and spreads it out evenly, but among relevant phrases. For most businesses, this is the method I recommend. Even for companies with an ultra tight budget, this can mean only 10-15 clicks a day for some people, but those clicks are interested customers, who are looking for their product.

The reason I recommend it is because they are targeted visitors. When a promoter drops 10,000 keywords into your adwords account, you’re likely to start drifting away from your core keywords. Unless you’re walmart and selling thousands of various items online, most likely you’re putting in keywords that are less relevant to your site. There are hundreds of ways to rephrase “tire shop in Boulder Colorado” but eventually you’ll end up with phrases like “colorado tire flat highway” and who knows what you’ll get. It’s better to keep focused on phrases people looking for your services or product might type in.

Your keywords control your visitors.

If you carefully choose keyword phrases and combinations, you’ll find that the people who click through are genuinely interested in your product. Taking a keyword and finding many variations on it is what a good SEM will do for you. They will find a hundred ways to search for your boulder tire shop and try to get reasonable bids on it. And for some “hot terms” you may want to bid high. If you’re the tire shop owner, then “tire shop in boulder” is a good term you should spend some money on. They’re obviously looking for you. Someone searching for “tire shop in colorado” may not as lucrative, as the customer could be on the other side of the state, and unlikely to visit your shop.

The better the keywords, the better the customers. Its all about conversion, you can test this with tools like google’s website optimizer. There are many ways to get the best of this program with a little planning.

Here is a long list of google optimizer tips that talks about lot about conversion rate. Less traffic with a better conversion rate can make you as much money as more traffic with a lower conversion rate. Targeting is vital to your conversion rate, and something to really think about when planning your ad campaigns.

In closing, when building your ad campaigns, try to get your conversion rates up as your main goal. Focus on getting as much traffic as you can afford, but when deciding between clicks and conversion rates, choose conversions. They’re the only thing that matters in the end anyway. Irrelevant traffic seldom pays the bills.