What Are The Intentions Of Your Visitors?

Written On Day: 309
Baby Taking Bath

Your visitors are strangers. You know almost nothing about them. All you are told is where – where in the world they are located, and where on the internet they came from.

There are occasions when knowing the location of your visitor matters, if you are selling snow tires and your visitor is from Egypt then you will not make a sale. But for the majority of cases geographical location is irrelevant. At most it reveals the local time for your visitor. If it is morning for him then he is grumpy, if it is evening then he is either full of wine or tired – how you can use this information is unknown.

The other where is the important one. From where did the visitor come from? There are three possibilities:

  1. Some other site
  2. Search Engine
  3. Address bar or Bookmark/Favorite

Knowing from where your visitor arrived is vital information. Because when you know from where they came, you know their intent.

Know Their Intent, Predict Their Behavior

Like the father of a beautiful daughter, your main concern is: what is the intent? A boy walks up to the door, rings the doorbell, father opens, “hello…what are your intentions with my daughter?” The coy boy replies, “Nothing much, we are going to play baseball. I like to pitch and your daughter enjoys being catcher. After the game we are going to a BBQ for some hotdogs, which reminds me, your daughter needs to bring some buns – I bring the wieners.” The father smiles and shakes the young boys hand, ‘you kids have fun’.

Unfortunately you cannot ask your visitors about their intentions, the best you can do is infer. And the most useful piece of information about their intent is to know from where they came. Unlike the word of a horny school boy about to take your daughter on a date, knowing how your visitors came to your site is a true description of intent.

Why is intent important? Knowing intent allows you to predict visitor’s behavior on your site.

Obviously you want your visitors to behave a certain way. For this site I want my visitors to do at least one of these four actions:

  1. Click an Ad
  2. Purchase an affiliate product
  3. Purchase my product
  4. Backlink to this site

Visitors who do none of the above can be ignored – they do nothing for this site. If you are reading this blog then you probably belong to the ignorable category. You are familiar with this site so you will not click on the ads or buy the products. The only way to turn yourself into a valuable visitor is to backlink to this website. Some of you have done it, but most of you have not and will not.

If I want visitors to behave in one of the four ways above then I need to look at their intentions. Once I know their intentions then I know how they will behave.   So once I know which traffic sources brings me the properly behaving visitors then I can focus all my energy into getting more traffic from those source.

The Intent of the Social Website Visitor

Social website visitors have no intent. They just drift around aimlessly from one website to another. They like funny, shocking, sexy, and strange. If you do not provide one of these then they are gone – looking for the next zap of instant satisfaction.

They are pigeons moving the mouse and pressing the button hoping to land somewhere that dazzles the eye. Click, look, click, look, click, look. If the there are lots of colors, pictures, videos and sounds they will clap their hands ecstatically and stay – otherwise they are gone.

These visitors have no intent. They are aimlessly wondering around the internet killing time. With no intent they are useless for this website. They are not interested in anything I have to offer. They arrive at the website; see all the words, yawn, and leave. That is why I completely ignore social traffic. No need to promote via facebook, digg, twitter. I give visitors the option to do it for me, but I will not do it.

The Intent of the Search Engine Visitor

These are visitors with direction and purpose. These people are not wasting their time walking around randomly hoping that something interesting happens. They arrive at your site with their intent written on their foreheads. Hello, I am here looking to ‘make money online’, can you help me? Yes I can. Click on one of these conveniently placed ads which will show you how to make $5000 a month online. Thank you, thank you too.

Hello, I am here because I want to know ‘how to build a website’, can you help me? Yes I can, buy my starter kit and you will have a money making website in no time. Thank you, thank you too.

See how pleasant it is when you know what the visitor wants. No guess work involved, no trying to find something that the visitor finds interesting. When you know exactly what the visitor wants you can easily direct their behavior into an action that benefits you.

Image you have a website selling a Philips screw driver. What would you rather receive – 10,000 visitors from a social website looking to be entertained, or 100 visitors from a search engine that typed in ‘buy philips screw driver’?

Intent is everything.

  1. November 6th, 2009 at 18:02 | #1

    Totally agree with the last sentence Roman – of course we’d all prefer the focused visitors. But I think you do your readers a disservice by telling them to ignore social traffic.

    Here’s an example: If I were to Retweet this post now (I have about 9000 followers on Twitter, you would immediately get about 40 visitors (I measure this all the time). It’s probable, but not certain, that a few of my followers would in turn retweet me. Let’s take an educated guess that a couple do and generate another 10 visitors for you.

    Now you are correct in assuming the vast majority of those will flit in, read the post, yawn, and never come back again. But out of those fifty, there just might be one who thinks “I love this site, I love this guy, he really speaks to me.” And another who says “I want to get into blogging – I’m going to buy that product right now.”

  2. roman
    November 10th, 2009 at 16:44 | #2

    @Mike CJ
    Hello Mike.

    For some reason when I was writing this post a vision of your head appeared and hovered before me. It was there for a second and then disappeared. Not knowing what to think of it I ignored it and continued writing.

    Now I know – you felt a disturbance in the Force. Someone was attacking social traffic.

    It is true – I do not value social traffic as much as search engine traffic. And you are right, you can get a few interested people out of the hoards of uninterested. But time is limited and energies need to be focused. If you have only one hour a day for website promotion then I suggest you use it getting search engine traffic. For example, writing a guest post and receiving a quality backlink is worth more then spending that hour twitter bombing your website.

  3. November 12th, 2009 at 15:15 | #3

    I never had much success on twitter myself. Just meaningless talk. I decided not to waste my time there. I just have a twitter account to promote my site there. I mean, I simply exist on twitter and sometimes I send a tweet mentioning a page of my site. And I believe that allmighty Google knows that I do exist on twitter and might give me credit for my backlinks. I have reason to believe that backlinks on twitter do count. So when I sent a tweet containing a link to my site http://www.learn-german-for-free.com, this might count. That’s all!

  4. roman
    November 12th, 2009 at 16:51 | #4

    @Nobi
    Hello Nobi,

    I do not know anything about twitter and its effectiveness for backlinks. But my gut reaction is that it cannot be great for backlinks.

    The reason I think this is that if you can create your own backlinks then the backlinks must be worthless. It makes sense that Google must ignore all backlinks that can be created by anybody. Otherwise spammers and webmasters would be creating their own backlinks to improve their search engine ranking. To avoid this from happening Google must ignore backlinks that can be created by anybody.

    My rule of thumb – if you can create your own backlink then it is worthless. This would apply for twitter, leaving a link in the comments, adding yourself to directories etc.

    Backlinks are the same as awards. Awards that you get from other people or institutions are worth infinitely more then ones that you give yourself.

  5. November 13th, 2009 at 13:34 | #5

    I agree with you. Awards or Backlinks that you create yourself must be worthless. Well, may be one day I may have an idea what to do with my twitter followers. They grow and I let them grow. Who knows for what they are good in future.

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