Silly Traffic

This is a truth of the Internet: When traffic comes to your site without focused intent, it bounces.

75% of all unfocused visitors leave within three seconds.

Any site, anywhere, anytime. 75% bounce rate within three seconds.

By unfocused, I mean people who visit via Digg or Stumbleupon or even a typical Google search. If your site is spammy or clearly selling something, the number is certainly higher. If you’re getting traffic because you have a clever domain name, it might be even higher. I don’t know of many examples where it is lower.

It’s good for your ego, that’s certain. You can brag about hits if you can get away with it, or pageviews or visits. But the bounce rate is still that scary 75%.

So, what should you do about silly traffic?

The tempting thing to do is to obsess over it. If you could just convert 10% of the bouncers, you’d be increasing your conversion rate by almost a third! (7.5% is about a third of the 25% who don’t bounce). There’s a million things you can do to focus on this, and almost none of them will show you much improvement.

One other thing you can do is get hooked on the traffic, focus on building your top line number. Keep working on sensational controversies or clever images, robust controversies or other link bait that keeps the silly traffic coming back

I think it’s more productive to worry about two other things instead.
1. Engage your existing users far more deeply. Increase their participation, their devotion, their interconnection and their value.
2. Turn those existing users into ambassadors, charged with the idea of bring you traffic that is focused, traffic with intent.

“I’m just looking,” is no fun for most retailers. Yet they continue to pay high rent for high-traffic locations, and invest time and money in window displays. Very few retailers lament all the traffic that walks by the front door without ever walking in. A long time ago, they realized that the shoppers with focused intent are far more valuable. Smart retailers work hard to get focused people to walk in the door and to keep the riff raff walking on down the sidewalk.

Your website can do the same thing. In fact, you might want to make it more likely that bouncers bounce, not less, but only if those changes increase the results you get from the visitors you truly care about.