How a 19.98% Traffic Increase Can HURT Your Site [Traffic and Conversion #6]

How to Increase Blog TrafficWelcome to the sixth update of the Traffic and Conversion series!

In this monthly report, I list the exact strategies I use to increase traffic to this blog {and other websites.}

Today I’m going to talk about how experienced a 19.98% growth in traffic in February.

Specifically, I’ll discuss how this increase might actually be a bad thing.

I know most people get excited by any growth in traffic.  However there are times when a traffic increase can have a negative consequence to the success of your website.

Before we get to that, let’s break down the metrics from last month…

February 2012 Statistics

First lets recap the stats from January:

  1. 29,309 Visits
  2. 78.13% Bounce Rate
  3. 1:32 Time on Site

So what happened in February?

Let’s take a look at the metrics from the last month:

February Traffic Stats for Steve Scott Site
Click to Enlarge

I use three metrics to measure the “success” of  my traffic generation efforts.  Here’s how they did in February:

  1. 35,165 Visits (19.98% Increase)
  2. 78.38% Bounce Rate (.32% Increase)
  3. 1:07 Time on Site (27.32% Decrease)

The first number that stands out is this site generated 35,165 visitors in the last month.

On the flip side, the bounce rate went up and the time on site went down.  This is NOT a good thing.  Ultimately this could hurt the search rankings for my entire site (I’ll explain why in a bit.)

Finally, I didn’t do much blogging this past month because I’ve had to work on a number of other side projects.  But here are the stats from the articles I did publish:

  1. The Most Important Post You Will EVER Read {Time on Page: 5:46}
  2. How to Get 5293 (Automatic) Monthly Twitter Visitors {Time on Page: 4:31}
  3. Get My First Kindle Book on {Time on Page: 4:04}
  4. A Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Plan For Your Article {Time on Site:4:41}
  5. How to Make Money with Amazon Kindle Books {Time on Site: 6:55}
  6. 13 Ways to Use as the ULTIMATE Link Building Service {Time on Site: 6:00}
  7. How Do We Find Replacement Rapport (Online)? {Time on Site: 5:55}

These numbers keep with the trend from the last few months. My current articles are generating traffic from repeat visitors and people are taking time to read them!

Now, let’s move on to the point of this month’s topic —> Why a 19.98% growth in traffic can hurt your site:

How a “Seasonal” Post Generates Massive Traffic…

The bulk of the February traffic comes from an article that was written almost a year ago – Steve Scott’s Saturday Selection – A Nice Spring Day.

This was part of weekly series where I linked to blog posts that I personally enjoyed.

What’s interesting is how much traffic this article generated:

Spring Post Traffic Stats

One post generated 7,844 visitors in February.  That’s more than 1/5th of the my traffic coming to a single article.

The problem?

ALL of this traffic is from people who download a photo that rank wells for the keyword “spring” on Google Images.  These visitors don’t care about affiliate marketing or the Internet lifestyle.  They simply come to my site and then immediately leave.

In addition, I get a lot of additional “web traffic” for image keywords like:

  • Elephant
  • Punxsutawney Phil
  • Valentine’s Day
  • PDF Icon
  • Swamp

All of these image searches add up to a lot of traffic from people who don’t want the content on my site.  Instead they come to my site to rip off a free image for their personal (or professional use.)

Why *Some* Web Traffic is Worthless

So why do I consider it *bad* to get this junk traffic?

Well, these visitors are having a negative impact on 2 of the 3 important metrics I use to measure the success of my traffic generation efforts: Time on Site and Bounce Rate.

My problem is Google factors uses time on site and bounce rate as part of their algorithm.  Getting *bad numbers* on these two metrics tells the search engines that you’re not providing a good experience to web searchers.

Ultimately I’m worried that all this image traffic could result in a penalty to my overall search engine rankings.  Google provides almost 68% of my traffic.  So I have to find a way to convert these visitors…

How to “Convert” Junk Traffic

I have two basic choices when it comes to “junk” traffic:

  1. Delete the pages (or simply rename the images)
  2. Find a way to convert this traffic

For now, I’m trying to figure out a way to convert this traffic.

Right now, I know *one thing* about these visitors – They want free images.

So the other day, I added an update to the top of the spring post:

Update to Spring Blog Post

I’ll admit the update is pretty large and a bit over the top.  But I’m hoping it’ll catch the attention of visitors and get them to click on the hyperlink.

What I’m doing here is linking to a post where I talk about 6 types of blog graphics.  In theory, this is relevant to “image traffic” because the article details a few strategies for finding (or creating) free images.

How does this “convert” web traffic?

My theory is this update will get people to stay on my site longer and decrease my bounce rate.

I’m basically giving visitors another place to go after they *steal* my image.  Plus…this article has a few affiliate links to related products.  So perhaps it’ll monetize what used to be junk traffic.

What is the Traffic Generation “Lesson” Here?

So how do you apply this to YOUR traffic generation efforts?

It’s simple.  I imagine you probably get a certain amount of “junk traffic.”  This happens all the time with large-scale content sites.  Don’t try to force these visitors towards something they don’t want.  Instead add something that relates to the reason why they’re coming to your site:

This can include things like:

  • A related blog post or article
  • A free report or lead magnet
  • Google Adsense
  • A related affiliate marketing product

There are a lot of things you can do with junk traffic.  The trick is to get inside the head of your visitors and find out why they’re coming to that particular page on your site.

I’m not 100% sure that linking to another blog post will positively affect the “spring photo traffic.”  But I’m willing to keep testing and tweaking this article.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

Till then, what are your thoughts?  How do you convert junk traffic?  What’s worked for you in the past?

Please comment below…

Take Action. Get Results.

32 thoughts on “How a 19.98% Traffic Increase Can HURT Your Site [Traffic and Conversion #6]”

  1. Steve, I think this is a great way to convert this junk traffic. After all, it seems a pity to just stop the traffic. It is really amazing that you get that many visitors on that single post because they are looking for a spring image. lol. What I generally do to my images now is that I mainly use the target keyword in my post as alt tag instead of using the tag relevant to the image. Not sure if one day this will penalized by Google for “over-optimizing” the keyword.


    • Ming,

      I agree, I am better at tagging my pictures these days, and making the “problem” go away would be easy as fixing that tag to something IM related. But like you, I just am hesitant to throw away so much traffic…even if I know it is 99% worthless and even has the potential to do some harm. We shall see if this can convert a small percent. (even a small percent would be worthwhile)

    • That is always a possibility, rhe probelm is still that they are totally untargetted and not likely to be interested in adsence.

      I had some on that article for a while. It made some clicks, but VERY low CTR. That is better than nothing, though.

  2. Hey Steve,

    This is very interesting, especially since I’ve been experiencing the same thing for a while. I have a few blog posts with tutorials on how to do things in Facebook. I get a lot of traffic to these tutorials, but they have nothing to do with my website at all, and people who come to my site looking for the tutorials always leave and never come back. So, I’ve been thinking like you, and trying to convert them into either buyers or subscribers. But so far, I haven’t found a good enough offer… but I’m still looking. It needs to be relevant to the articles. That’s the thing.

    What you’re doing is very interesting, and I hope you’ll update your blog with the results.

  3. I have also had this problem. I used a rather big twitter icon in a post, and now I get a lot of people from the search term: twitter icon.
    I guess it’s just like your visitor: they come, grab the icon, and leave. I don’t think I will use time to convert from this, I will just rename the image as you say..
    I have had a high bounce rate and a low time spend on my site for a long time, hopefully renaming can help on this statistic.

    • Yeah, it is a tough decision, on one hand, traffic is traffic and it always feels good to see people stopping by, but targetting is essential and this type of stuff is a waste, and could effect algorithm positioning with time on siste.

  4. Hi Steve-

    Wow, as always Great information. I didn’t know google added time on site and bounce rate to their algorithm. I was always under the impression that all traffic was some what good. Did you find the ‘web traffic’ in keyword section of your analytics?



      • Well wouldn’t want to noindex it, that would do the same as changing the picture. Take the traffic away.

        The second idea is one I have also thought of… but it is a good one. I also use clicky, though (for now) I am more familiar with GA. I am not sure HOW Google collects its data. I do sometimes get the feeling we may be “reporting on ourselves” using GA. But maybe they have a way to find Time on site in their algorithm with or without having GA installed. But since we really cannot know, it does make good sense to not use GA, in case it does get that metric from that program

    • Thanks Monja,

      I think it is probably a universal problem. One of the “pro” type moves is turing at least a small percentage of those totally untargetted visitors into some sort of action we desire.

      It is a tough one, though, this is the reason why targetted visitors are SO much more important than these random untargetted ones.

      • ‘turing at least a small percentage of those totally untargetted visitors into some sort of action we desire’
        put a small survey under the picture to interact with the visitor:
        How did you like this picture on a scale of 1 to 10. Vote now, see what others think and get my free guide to better pictures.

        Have a good weekend!

  5. Steve,
    I think you missed an opportunity to discuss the demographics.

    Researching the keywords to find a common interests and theme beyond downloading pictures. By doing this perhaps you could find a new valuable market and product?

    I think any site traffic is good traffic….


    • Mark, for sure, keyword research is HUGE and really needs to be done before you ever write a single word. Really a huge topic on its own. (and something I have gone into my views on in the past) Most of these “error” traffic pics come from articles that were not well designed “keyword articles” but usually more “link” type articles. (like the Spring one came from a weekly roundup I used to do). I do agree though, it you are keyword optimizing, you best bet is to name the picture something keyword related and you never run into this issue.

  6. This is not a spam comment, Frankly I read your post completely because I had the same experience last month. I have a post named “Fourth Jquery Slideshow”. It is about 6-7 months old. It received more than 4,000 pageviews within last few days (about 8 days). So I was very happy since my blog is getting more and more traffic. But at the same time I have noticed that my Google traffic getting reduced day by day. finally I lost stumbleupon traffic completely and the Google traffic by 50-60%. So I am very worried about the incidence.

    After reading your article I checked my Google analytic account to see the bounce rate, it is 91.3%. And the time on site is 1.02. After all I got what I missed. Now I am thinking how to correct this.

    Anyway I shared your article, since it helped me a lot to understand the problem I had.

    • Thanks for you comment Sajith,

      Yeah, it sounds like you might be getting a fair amount of low quality traffic, but your topic is specific enough and targetted enough I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Something that targetted and specifc you are going to have a ton of people going directly to your site and deciding they don’t like it. (hence some of the big bounce rate numbers) PLus it sounds like a lot of your traffic comes from Stumbleupon, which is notorious for having a high Bounce rate and lowering time on site. The fact that you ARE getting 50-50% of the traffic through Google sounds good for the long term. Maybe in a week run a report on your follow on traffic and see what the bounce rate/ time on site is after the SU traffic is taken out of the equation. It might be a lot better.

      • Hi Steve,

        I have noticed my Google traffic is rising back again after loosing all the traffic from stumble upon. Again I got 70-80 % traffic from Google. It seems my overall bounce rate is getting good back again.

  7. Hey Steve, I have had a ton of this junk traffic myself, and it is really hard to see how to utilize it.
    I have tried getting them into an opt in, with little success. often, the junk traffic is so far away from the topic of my site that it isn’t relevant to anything I can provide them. Sadly, I just ignore these visitors, although I should look at finding more ways to take advantage of them coming to my site.

    • Yeah,

      In the end you may be right, it is best just to ignore them. But then again, you have to think, if you can just convert 5%…it is a hefty number. So maybe worth some thought. (ot that I have been 5% successful…yet 😉 )

  8. Steve, that is a great idea, I may try something like that myself to convert image searchers. I’ve got two sources of high bounce traffic, 1- google images like you and 2- stumbleupon. I know many people kill to get some viral action at SU, but I have to agree it can definitely hurt me if those visitors aren’t the right demographic and leave immediately.

    Funny related story….I run a car buying advice blog and every year at Halloween I write a post about zombies that has nothing to do with cars. These posts result in more search traffic than most of my “real” posts. So this year I’ve decided to start selling some zombie swag and gag gifts on those posts….we’ll see how it goes!

    • Geoff,

      I think you zombie selling “day” is a good idea. If you get the seasonal traffic regularly, make it work for ya! Brilliant.

      As for SU, yeah, that can be an issue. I know most people love SU. Hey, the traffic looks great. But 90% Bounce is pretty common from SU. It is all so frustrating, because since traffic is what we all want it is really hard to call any traffic, “bad”.

    • Matt,

      For sure. It may not be possible to really “convert” very much of it. But it is worth the attempt. Sometimes this traffic is good enough that even a small percent could be worthwhile. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  9. totally agree with you and its a great info for all of us. bounce rate is very important for our websites because it will increase your Page rank.
    i recommend every one to read that post to neglect negative traffic. one question i have in mind that after reading that post it means now strategy of PPC will not works for next?

  10. I think trying to convert image traffic is better than simply eliminating it by renaming the images or deleting them. The way I see it, even if the conversion rate from image traffic is extremely low, it’s still better than nothing.

  11. impressive…I didn’t realize how much junk traffic I was getting prior to reading your article. Will be trying something similar to your example to convert them,

  12. Steve,

    I was reading through your article and thinking what you did to convert that junk traffic. It is great that you added extra information to the post to convert that junk traffic (And maybe even make money through the affiliate links).

    I had the same experience when I did SEO for the images that I used for the first 5-10 blog posts with my new blog (these days, I don’t use any images – which is a big mistake). I don’t do any SEO either (I need to catch up with that).

    Ultimately, it is not about how much traffic we get. It is about how much of those traffic are actual visitors who care about the content that we offer.

    By the way, thanks for your detailed post (also thanks for the indirect reminder on Google analytics. I don’t usually check my bounce rate and visitor time on specific posts, I think I should start doing that).

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • Thanks Jeevan,

      What you say is very true. Raw traffic is not all that big of a deal. On some of my more focused blogs I get a lot less traffic than from this site, but I make just about as much money. It can all be about conversion and how “purchase ready” people are when they find your site. On something like a picture, both are approaching zero. Even though it is close to zero, though, I do like to think there is a way to turn picture conversion from that .5% to maybe 1.5% aven that little bump can be huge given enough traffic.

      Thanks again…have a great day!


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