There was a time when many webmasters assumed all they had to do was build a site and visitors would “turn up”, thankfully most now realise that some kind of promotion is necessary for a site to become successful. However the myth about a website automatically becoming popular seems to have been replaced by the idea that any site with high traffic is worth a lot of money. I have learnt the hard way that not all website traffic is created equal and the single most important determining factor for visitor value is – intent.
Part of the problem is the phrase “surfing” because it implies that the average internet user is simply bouncing from site to site clicking on the first random link they see. In practice people often have specific requirements for what they want to see, yes they do browse for information but that’s usually on a site or blog they already know and like and they are happy to read the top stories regardless. So if most users have “intent” to find a specific piece of information or to answer a question why are some worth more than others?
A good example to illustrate visitor value is Google, since the search engine is one of the main connectors between users with a question and the billions of sites who hope to answer it. So on a basic level we can see that when you type certain keywords into Google more or less advertising appears depending on the perceived value but I want to look at things in more detail. For example the keyword “hotels” is valuable but according to the Google keyword tool “hotels in New York” is worth much more (based on what advertisers are willing to pay).
There’s a simple reason for this and it’s because it’s much easier to sell to the guy who wants to stay in New York because you know exactly what information to show him to complete the sale. With a very broad term like “hotels” you have so show them everything since you have so little visitor intent info to go on and so the conversion rate (percentage of people who buy) will always be much lower.
But how does the highly competitive world of online hotel reservations relate to the average webmaster starting a blog? Well I have found that the principle of intent carries though all web sectors regardless of size and it’s also the main aspect that webmasters get wrong. Since I focus mainly on getting my traffic from Google there are a few words I can use to target only those people who are thinking about making a purchase when they search, these phrases are called “price modifiers”, e.g:
• Cheap #keyword#
• Discount #keyword#
• Luxury #keyword#
• Bargain #keyword#
• #keyword# under xx price
If someone appends any of the following to the main “subject” of your niche it means their main intent is to buy. You will also find that when people are very specific about what they want (and there’s a price associated with that item/service) they are more likely to convert into a sale/order. E.g. someone doesn’t type “LCD computer screen under $150” just for research purposes.
You see it doesn’t really matter if your traffic is coming from Google/Social media/direct if your site isn’t focused around something which is at least someway associated with a “buying intent” you will struggle to make money, that doesn’t mean “buying intent” can’t be introduced but it’s much harder to do. For example even though Google doesn’t publish stats its widely believed that YouTube has yet to make a profit which makes sense to me, despite their massive traffic the average user is a 14 year old who wants to watch a music video for free, there’s not a credit card in sight.
I realise that many webmasters like to focus on keyword research (if they are targeting Google) but even with the price modifiers above none of this is going to matter if you get the subject wrong for your site. There seems to be a trend recently in the blogging world to focus on general blogging sites, i.e. blogging about blogging. Whilst I wouldn’t tell anyone what to write about it’s going to be very hard to target or work out visitor intent with such a general topic as “I love blogging”.
On the other hand what if you built a site around the subject of “wordpress plugins” which enhance the blogging experience and you could review the best ones and also specific sectors like SEO plugins. The most important aspect though is that there are many quality plugins which you have to buy if you want to use them and it’s here that you can turn your hobby site into one that makes money through commissions for referred sales. I suppose for most webmasters the difference between these two examples is small but in monetary terms the gap is huge.
The main point that I’m trying to get across here is that if you can get the foundations right in terms of subject for your site then making money from it down the road when it gets popular will be much easier. It’s easy to spot the popular blogs who haven’t worked out visitor intent before they start as they are the ones full of un-related ads for everything from floor cleaner to hair products, since they don’t understand their audience they have to offer them everything! I hope this article has provided a little insight into the whole concept of visitor intent.
This free guest post was written by:
This is a guest post by Pablo from earningmoneyonline.co.uk who is a blogger with a passion for internet marketing, web design and beer.