With the boom of social networking over the last few years, there’s a lot more traffic to be squeezed out of your website beyond just having good search engine optimization.
Social network and bookmarking sites such as Twitter, StumbleUpon and Digg have the potential to bring in huge traffic. And while every site can be found through search engines not every one is using these tools, giving you a potential leg up on the competition.
The only downside is social networking requires regular work, and getting to the front page of Digg etc. for a huge boost in exposure requires a little luck. There’s a lot of competition on social bookmarking sites and writing a fantastic article doesn’t guarantee it won’t slip through the cracks.
If you are fortunate enough to have an article land on the front page however, the results are undeniable. It wouldn’t be the first time a web hosting server has been brought down by a huge traffic burst of to an article featured on one social networking site or another.
Search engines are somewhat the opposite.
A search engine will crawl and index all your worthy content sooner or later without any input on your part, you can’t however put any extra effort into directly affecting search engine results even if you wanted to.
Your place in a search engines results is ultimately deciding by the engine based on your content, the more quality content the better your result, but unlike social networking you can repeatedly promote yourself to a search engine for increased traffic.
Search engine traffic is also slow to get going. In order to help prevent spam sites continually popping up, Google has what is commonly referred to as the sandbox. The reference is symbolic of children (new websites) playing in a sandbox until they’re all grown up and ready for the big wide world.
While there’s no official word on this from Google, it is believed that the sandbox effect lasts 4 months or so, during which you won’t see much traffic search engine wise. Once your out however, search engines provide a steady stream of targeted visitors with no additional work required on your behalf.
Ultimately it’s all good. If you don’t have the time/inclination to keep up the social front, search engines will bring you visitors but there’s plenty to gain from social sites if you can utilize them.
Where do you get your traffic from?
As a point of interest I’ve included the above graphic detailing my traffic sources for the last 3 months, for me social bookmarking plays a huge roll.
At the time of writing, Stumbleupon is bringing me 45% of my visitors, Twitter brings in about 11%, Google 35% while the last 9% is made up from blog comments, lesser search engines etc. How about you?