Designing for the 4 Types of Web Traffic, Part 1

Designing for The 4 Types of Web Traffic, Part 1

Does it matter where we come from to get to where we are today? When it comes to visitors to your website, the answer is a resounding “yes.” A website is like a storefront in a busy downtown intersection—each visitor could have used any number of roads to get there. As the owner of this storefront, you’d want to bring in as many visitors as possible, from as many roads as possible. On the web, however, it takes different design techniques to drive different types traffic, and if you haven’t been designing with each traffic source in mind, you may be missing out on all sorts of visitors.

Today, we’ll be going over these types of web traffic and offering some tips you can use to better design your site to generate as much traffic as possible of every kind.

Organic Search Traffic

The first type of web traffic we’ll be looking at is organic search traffic. These are visitors that entered keywords into a search engine and clicked on your site in the search results. If you want to design your site to drive as much organic search traffic as possible, this is where search engine optimization (SEO) techniques come into play. Your focus should be on telling search engines what your site is about, and convincing them that your site is a relevant source of information for that topic.

You can give search engines an idea of what your site is about by choosing the right keywords and having those keywords appear in the right places. This includes page titles and headers, meta tags such as title and description, image alt attributes, and simply in the flow of your paragraphs. As we discussed in a previous article, quality content remains the best way to convince search engines that your site is a relevant, credible information source.

The biggest design challenge here is to design for search engines without sacrificing your goals of designing for human visitors. A site stuffed to death with keywords may generate a lot of search traffic, but no visitor will stick around long if the site isn’t designed first and foremost with people in mind. Incorporating your keywords in a way that feels natural and organizing your site’s content clearly will appeal to both the bots and the humans.

If you want to learn more about SEO in-depth, check out some of our other articles on this topic. We’ve covered it pretty extensively on this blog.

Paid Search Traffic

The second type of web traffic on our list is paid search traffic. Organic search traffic gets its name because it happens automatically: a search engine recognizes your site as relevant to someone’s search and feeds it to them on its own accord. Paid search traffic, however, comes into play when you pay for an ad to run on a search engine.

Ads can be very effective, as they usually appear at the top of search results and make your site very visible. This doesn’t guarantee traffic on its own though. To optimize the amount of traffic you get out of a search ad, your best bet is to design your ad with attractive copy that will draw visitors in and convince them your site really is relevant to their search.

An effective paid search campaign doesn’t end with the ad, however—the page that visitors end up on when they click your ad is equally important. Your goal is to lower bounce rates, or the rate at which visitors leave quickly after making it to your site. Designing an attractive, well-written, easy to navigate landing page is a great way to keep these bounce rates low and draw in new visitors from a search ad campaign.

That’s all we have time for today, but these are only half of the web traffic sources we want to cover. Come back next month to read part two, where we’ll be going over referrals and direct traffic!

conversion optimization, design, search engine optimization, usability
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