Web Site Traffic: Why Its So Important

There's nothing like the roar of traffic-web site traffic, that is

Theres nothing like the roar of traffic—web site traffic, that is. Sure, content, functionality, timeliness and value are crucial, but without traffic, and lots of it, few Web sites can be considered successful. But getting it takes work.

You can get traffic from links on portal sites, advertising links within a vertical industry segment, and listings in directory and search engines. Portal links can be effective traffic generators but can also be somewhat expensive and not always selective. Advertising is equally expensive and sometimes reaches too narrow an audience. Thus, most Web sites hope for a decent listing in the plethora of search engines that litter the Web landscape. But being listed is somewhat of a field of dreams in itself.

It helps to understand how search engines work. For example, the folks at Google, one of the largest search engines, pointed out to me recently that true search engines differ from directory servers, which can be populated by humans who review Web sites for content. True search engines use sophisticated algorithms to rank and index Web pages. You can improve the chances of your site showing up in a listing by including well-known links on your site. Other helpful hints about directory and search engines is available at www.google.com.

Another common belief is that sites are automatically included in directory and search engines, thanks to Web crawlers. Yes and no. While many directory and search vendors use crawlers, each has unique requirements to fully use the power of its respective listing index. Also, some sites may not reindex for weeks or months, and changes to your site may go unnoticed for some time.

Even more important is understanding the kind of traffic you are trying to get. If directory and search engines have miscategorized your Web sites content, then you may be getting the wrong audience.

It would be nice to have standards for Web site content that include methods for describing the site to directory and search engine providers. But until those standards arrive, you still need to get the traffic so that your e-commerce initiatives can pay off. Start by finding out the facts from directory and search engine providers. Then you can put in place the practices that will build the most, and the right, kind of traffic.