As we discussed with linking domain diversity, diversity is also important to think about when it comes to traffic sources. Relying too heavily solely on search engines for your traffic can lead to huge vulnerabilities when search engines make changes. As SEOmoz'a Rand Fishkin explains traffic source diversity is essential for successful seo:
- Search engines want to reward sites that "naturally" attract traffic from other sources - those who get clicks on the links that point to them, who have social media sharing happening aroud their content and who aren't simply a "farm" for search visits.
- The online world is diversifying at a much greater clip in the last 3 years than anytime since the mid-90's. Instead of consolidation, we're seeing expansion as sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, etc. all expand their reach and newcomers like Foursquare, Path, Quora, StackExchange, Groupon, LivingSocial, and many others become substantive traffic drivers. Sites that can't play in these new ecosystems will likely lose out to their early-adopter-friendly competitors.
- No single source of traffic is wholly "safe," but a diversified portfolio has much less associated risk.
- Diversifying traffic sources means experimenting with new potential channels for traffic, and that means potentially finding sources that send great visits, links, citations, shares, etc.
- Getting to a new channel before a competitor can be key to owning mindshare and traffic from that source.
- Diversification makes it less likely that a road bump in any single channel can have a devasting impact on your overall business. One thing I'm very thankful for is that SEOmoz only gets ~30% of its traffic from Google. Should they ever (intentionally or unintentionally) alter our ability to perform, we won't be dead in the water (unlike many of our peers in similar spaces).
As search engines evolve, so too do the signals that they use to order search results. Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of social and local signals. I am one that anticipates that user data will, if it isn't already, at some point be used by search engines too. From this perspective, diversifying traffic sources could have an impact on your site's visibility in search results.
Further, Internet users are spending more and more time on "other places online." These include social media & social bookmarking sites. Comprehensive web strategy involves going where the users are going.
Still, the most compelling argument for focusing on diversifying traffic sources are search engine updates. While the Panda Update, is on everyone's mind now, this is not the first time that Google has made a change that had a significant impact on the search results. Putting all of your "web marketing eggs" in the Google basket is very high-risk.