Do You Have Too Much Search Traffic?

Sep 1, 2011 • 8:39 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Too MuchMatt McGee started an excellent discussion thread at Sphinn asking, "How Much Search Traffic is Too Much?"

It is a good question, especially with the ups and downs sites see with Google and Bing doing algorithm updates.

How much of your overall traffic should be from search engines? Is it ever too much?

I have some clients that have over 90% of their traffic from search engines! Over 90%! My sites, like this one and others, normally get about 60% or so from search engines - we get a lot of social media traffic, direct and so on.

Is 90% excessive and borderline scary? What if Google changes their algorithm or mistakenly labels your site as a site doing something against their guidelines. What if your developer does something stupid and Google drops you from their index?

Should you rely that much on search traffic?

Now, you can easily look at your traffic overview and see how much traffic you get from search engines versus referral sites and so on. But if you drill in, often the search traffic is from people doing direct searches, looking for your company by typing in your company name. Does that count?

Let me share some of the outstanding posts at Sphinn:

Matt McGee said:

I'll go first today and begin by saying that it proably depends on the type of site involved, the industry and other factors. But ... generally speaking ... I get alarmed when I see a website getting 70% or more of its traffic from natural search. Sure, it might be a testament to the SEO's skills, but what if the algorithms change next week? Where's all that traffic gonna come from them?

Several years ago, Andy Hagans wrote a great article about the idea of "defensible traffic" -- i.e., it's good to have a variety of traffic sources so you can withstand the loss of any one of them. I'm a big believer in that, so I don't like to see too much traffic coming just from search. You?

Todd Mintz said:

I'm not sure that there is an ideal breakdown. So long as you are working all the channels in an optimum fashion, the breakdown shouldn't matter.

Jill Whalen said:

Something to consider these days is that direct referrals may appear to be lower with search referrals higher when it comes to brand terms these days. This is due to people using Google to easily get to sites they know about rather than bookmark or type them directly. Plus sometimes you just type the domain into the wrong browser box.

In other words, don't worry too much if your search traffic seems awful high, at least where branded terms are concerned.

There is a lot of other great comments in the thread and please add yours to the Sphinn thread.

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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09/01/2011 01:01 pm

It is natural especially for old websites that are not managed through social media to have high organic search. But the best bet is to balance your traffic sources to include as much referrals as possible.

Nick Stamoulis

09/01/2011 02:15 pm

I think it is important to have a good mix of traffic sources because relying too heavily on one leaves your site vulnerable. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket!

Michael Martinez

09/01/2011 05:50 pm

I try to keep search engine traffic to about 50% of less for a site.  I hate being dependent upon one or two sites for traffic.


09/02/2011 01:37 am

Fully agree with Nick Stamoulis, never put all your eggs in one basket. 

Robert Cerff

09/02/2011 06:12 am

I'll agree with Jill.  The numbers shouldn't really matter. A few other points also point out branded searches.  Perhaps it might be a good idea to do a seperation of non-branded terms vs branded ones and do a breakdown there.  After all, you wouldn't consider paid search as part of your SEO efforts, why then include branded search? Just my 5cents worth (inflation and all that).

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