Most reports peg search traffic at about 10% of total internet traffic. However, most businesses spend 90% of their website efforts on search engine optimization and marketing. Below I outline why this disproportionate emphasis on search traffic can be spell disaster for an online business.

If only 10% of people are searching, what is the other 90% doing? The majority are returning visitors. They may have found a site initially by search but now they return. If someone is comparison shopping, they’ll usually bookmark five or six sites, comparing each one with the others. There’s another small percentage that is simply typing in domains. Looking for lawn furniture? I’ll just type in lawn furniture dot com. Another even smaller proportion actually type the domain name into a search box, then click on the domain in the search results.

I think as webmasters we get search engine tunnel vision when we’re marketing our businesses. When someone tells me they’re having trouble getting the top 10 search positions, I usually ask about the other types of online marketing strategies they’re engaged with. The common response is, what else can I do?

There’s a lot you can do! The great thing about online marketing is that we’re only limited by our creativity. Social marketing is wide open for creative and savvy marketers. What better way to get traffic than to create word of mouth referrals. How do most offline businesses get clients? Through word of mouth. It’s no different online.

How people get to your site is important. But, what you do with a visitor after they come to your site is even more important.

I would argue that our existing clients are our top marketing vehicles. Do you offer great service and support? You’ll get referrals. Are you hard to work with, arrogant, or stingy? You won’t get referrals. A happy client will tell one other person. An unhappy client will tell at least four other people.

One of the few points I think professional internet marketers get right is traffic diversification. Yes, they focus on getting free, organic search traffic but they also spend a great deal of time on list building, customer service, and word of mouth.

If your only focus is search traffic, sooner or later you’ll be disappointed. My business goal is to have as many traffic streams as I can develop. I’m slowly getting to a point where even if my search traffic went to zero, I’d still keep plugging along.

Search engine algorithms change all the time. Time spent surfing forums to find the best ways to beat search engines is time better spent on other marketing methods. Time spent tweaking a page for keyword density is time better spent handing out business cards with your website address.

For those of you stuck in a search engine rut, step back and look at your options. What else are you doing to drive traffic to your site? There are so many more options than we think if we would just look around.

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