Content Marketing Blog

Can your website survive without search traffic?

Increasing search traffic is the main goal for most websites, but is it possible to still attract visitors without optimising search?

Popular viral news and entertainment website BuzzFeed is a living testament that it is possible, although not easy, to ignore Google and SEO.

BuzzFeed gets around three-quarters of its 150 million monthly visitors traffic through social media, revealed BuzzFeed’s Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti in an interview with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan.

The site used to be reliant on search traffic but was accidentally penalised by Google a few years ago, explained Mr Peretti.

During the time it took Google to correct the problem, BuzzFeed was forced to find an alternative source of traffic, and that’s how they became dependent on social media.

As we can see by how much traffic they attract, their decision to focus on social media paid off- but only because the type of content they produce is suited to social.

Mr Peretti noted that people aren’t likely to search for cute kittens on Google, but if they come across the same photos on social media they might click on them.

Peretti also pointed out that they aren’t focused on producing content that goes viral on Facebook, instead preferring steady traffic over massive spikes.

He went on to say that BuzzFeed takes a practical and realistic approach to interpreting data, instead of making assumptions on what’s popular.

“For us to succeed in the long term as a content business, we need to know that when we make content and it gets traffic that that’s actually a signal of quality and not just a quirk of Facebook’s News Feed.” he said.

In another distortion from the norm, Peretti said that BuzzFeed is now targeting their content toward minority audiences on Facebook.

Because of the way that Facebook works, creating really specific content such as what it’s like to be left-handed, or of a certain sexual orientation, is much more effective than it was.

While BuzzFeed has done a great job reaching people on social media, the majority of sites should focus their attention on increasing organic search.

According to BrightEdge, organic search is responsible for 51 percent of all website traffic, while social only accounts for 5 percent.

Consider if the type of content you’re producing, or want to produce, is best suited to social media like BuzzFeed’s is, or if it’s best to keep your focus on search.

Posted by Dylan Brown

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