Not all search engine traffic is created equal.
While few people would shy away from having an ever-increasing volume of traffic on their website, the focus among website owners is too often on total traffic rather than the quality of the traffic a website receives.
In the case of real estate websites, traffic can come from many sources including bookmarks, email marketing, links from other websites, people typing in the site’s address after seeing it on marketing pieces, and search engines, to name some of the most common routes. Looking at the latter, search engine traffic can be further divided based on which search engine a visitor used and what term they happened to type into the search box.
One slice of the search engine keyword pie is branded searches. If your company has a strong brand, you’ll likely receive a significant volume of traffic to your site from people searching specifically for your brand. For example, they may know your brand from yard signs, agents they’ve worked with, bus benches, TV commercials, or from previous visits to your website. While it’s tough to determine how they know about you, the important factor is that they do indeed know who you are and are actively seeking you out.
One example of this can be found in a RE/MAX case study on Google Analytics where RE/MAX’s Senior Vice President of IT and e-Business, Kristi Graning, shared some insight into remax.com’s search engine keyword traffic:
The RE/MAX site gets more than 2 millions visits a month. With Google Analytics, Kristi Graning and her team were able to see that more than 90 percent of visitors who came from search engines used search terms that included “remax” in their search query, and about 70 percent of those visitors subsequently searched for properties on the site.
As I understand that paragraph, Ms. Graning logged into remax.com’s Google Analytics account, clicked Traffic Sources > Keywords, then filtered the referring keywords by the term “remax” to find out how many visitors the site received over a given period that included that particular term. She then divided that number by the site’s total visitors from search engines to arrive at the 90% figure.
If you use Google Analytics, you can try that yourself to get a feel for how you compare.
So, is RE/MAX’s figure good or bad? That’s hard to say. Here’s why:
1. It’s good, because it means that RE/MAX gets a TON of branded searches, which means their brand is very well known among consumers.
2. It may not be good, because it may mean that RE/MAX is missing out on a ton of non-branded search engine traffic for a variety of reasons.
Out of curiosity, I ran some of WhereToLive.com’s client’s analytics through a similar test. Compared to remax.com’s 70% “remax” keyword dependency, all came in below 50% (and many well below that level) for their brands.
This, again, is not necessarily a good or bad thing. If someone had a really weak brand, they could perform better on this metric. However, extremely high branded search engine referrals could also be a symptom of marginal search engine optimization; something WhereToLive.com knows how to cure.
The opportunity here for any business is to keep an eye on this metric over time so you can see how your site’s traffic sources evolve. Ideally, your site’s traffic will increase branded and non-branded searches over time, leading to more and more free, high quality traffic from search engines.