Website Sustainability: What Percent of Your Traffic Comes From Search Engines?

As an SEO one of our primary goals is to get more search traffic for targeted search terms. Search traffic is typically far more valuable than other traffic sources because it is so targeted. But non-search traffic is perhaps the single most reliable sign of quality. As Google controls a larger portion of the overall traffic flow across the web, they risk creating self fulfilling prophecies where low quality sites continue to rank only because they already rank.

If you were Google, and discovered that 98% of a site's traffic comes from might you want to give that site a bit less exposure? I would. Maybe those algorithms do not exist now, but eventually they could.

If you have a site that earns far beyond your living costs, and it is almost entirely reliant on search for income, then one of the best moves you can make for the sustainability of that site is to lower the percentage of traffic that comes from search by creating other traffic sources. The other traffic sources may not be as profitable on a CPM basis, but as you diversify you lower your risks. It doesn't matter how the algorithms shift if your site is strong in every signal of trust they could possibly measure.

Published: June 27, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing seo tips


James Dunn
June 27, 2007 - 4:33am

What percentage of this site's traffic comes from search engines? What would be a good target percentage?

Sami Ben Hassine
June 27, 2007 - 5:06am

And what should be other source of traffic if not PPC? Directories and such ?

June 27, 2007 - 6:20am

RSS subscribers, traffic from links, offline mentions, affiliate ads, ppc ads, other ads, direct traffic from strong domain name, social media stuff, etc.

June 27, 2007 - 6:28am

Hi James
I am not sure I can tell you the exact percent that is best, but you can look at leading competing channels in your space and try to figure out their traffic breakdown by looking to see if their stats are accidentally public, if they show their RSS subscriber numbers, or check using a competitive research tool.

June 27, 2007 - 10:21am

Hi Aaron,

I was noticing just this last week that my traffic from Google search was inching up past the 50% mark for one of my new blogs, and I was wondering whether that was a good thing...

I figure, good in the short term, for the exposure its giving the blog... That's why this post was totally relevant to my immediate need. You've answered my thoughts!



Ken Savage
June 27, 2007 - 8:16pm

81% of the traffic last month on my main blog came from search engines and of that 66% of it was from Google.

I have very few links incoming but the site is over 10 years old and has had some form of blog/journal on it for the last 9 years so there's always fresh content. I seem to rank 1st page in the serps for anything not overly competitive rather quickly and stays there a while too.

Call me lucky or call it knowing what to blog about but it seems harder for me to take my personal website and make a brand or service out of it when it does so well already.

June 28, 2007 - 6:12am

Being paranoid about G over-analyzing my traffic is one reason I don't use Analytics! =)

February 8, 2008 - 1:09pm

My site is just under 12 months old.

Since Jan 07 - Dec 07 average SE referral was between 40-50%.

Since middle of Jan 08 this has just bombed. Now it's less than 15% - and just don't seem to rank in google - I'm sure I have had a penality, but how to I prove it or get it fixed.

February 8, 2008 - 4:46pm

Sorry to hear about that coqui. :(

July 22, 2011 - 4:20pm

Search engine traffic I believe is still good because this is a visitor who knows what they are looking for and if you have it and it meets their requirements then you should be able to convert everytime. All said still, you should have traffic from other sources lest you experience what happened to coqui.

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