One of the most-commonly asked questions that I get asked is:
Does traffic actually help?
Or, more easily explained: does the amount of traffic that a website has that is linking to me affect the power of that incoming link? If you consider the organic traffic of a site on Ahrefs or SEMRush, does this traffic pass more ‘juice’ if that number is higher?
In my opinion – do I think traffic in itself is a big ranking factor? No.
But let’s get into why that’s the case and what parts of traffic I think does matter.
Looking at the traffic of each website is quite a lot for Google to analyse. For them to do this, they would have to have accurate traffic data on each website that links to your site – which, we know is only possible if a site is linked to Google Analytics (GA).
Therefore, if a website doesn’t contain the GA code, it’s possible but highly unlikely that Google will know exactly how much traffic is coming from that website. Sure, they could use estimates just like Ahrefs or SEMRush, but search volume varies and it’s not a perfect representation of how good a website actually is, just because people happen to be Google Searching for terms around the topics that they are optimised and ranking for.
Instead, I believe the algorithm still runs mostly off (1) juice power – and backlink juice – and (2) the relevance of the incoming links.
But Gary, does that mean that website traffic is irrelevant?
Well, that’s not really the case either – let me explain what I mean.
Say you have two links – both coming from a DR60 site – but one has 60,000 traffic while the other has 120,000 traffic. Which of these sites would be ‘better’? I’m willing to bet – and am sure 95% of you would too – that it’s the one with 120,000 traffic.
That’s because it’s easy to manipulate DR, DA, SEMRush or Majestic metrics through backlinks – but if one site has higher estimated traffic than another, it’s likely that its incoming links are of better quality than the other site. They’re less likely to have spam penalties, they’re not rubbish sites and they’re ranking for some organic stuff.
That’s why I care about traffic.
As I said, I don’t think traffic itself is the ranking factor, but I do think it means that the links that are helping contribute to that site’s traffic metric are better quality, which therefore makes it a better quality site to get links from.
What we’re hoping to gain here is quality – so, whenever I build links to my own site, I always make sure that there’s some traffic going to those sites. And, you should too. That’s why at Get Me Links, all our links have options for 1000+, 5000+ and 10,000+ traffic on DR 60+ placements for example.
Alright, so that’s settled then: more traffic = better link.
But, what about click-through-rate? (CTR)
Like I said earlier, Google can’t track the clicks to your website without having Google Analytics installed. Let’s say you’re looking at a website that doesn’t have GA installed and are using a Safari browser – there’s no GA code installed and it’s not Chrome, so there’s bound to be discrepancies.
Do you think Google can accurately read per-click metrics as CTR for every single website?
This is why Google will never use CTR as a #1 Ranking Factor, because they don’t have this data of everyone’s websites. Backlink juice? Yes. They have more data on this, so for now, they’ll give much more validity to that data.
However, what I’m not saying is to discount CTR as a ranking factor completely.
Let’s look at a more concrete example to see what I mean.
Say you have two pages in Google – one is your site and one is a guest post that links to your site.
Each of these pages ranks for the keyword ‘payday loans online’ with 20,000 searches a month.
If more people are clicking on your site, Google is going to give more credit to you because you’re receiving more traffic via CTR. Alternatively, if more people were clicking on the guest post that links to you, it’s also more likely that they will give you more credit because that guest post links to your website and it gets more traffic via CTR.
Therefore, it’s not only the organic traffic of the whole site that matters, but also individual pages that rank. And again, Google will only be able to track and credit sites in their search engine with their analytics code installed.
Once they determine that a page is ranking for certain terms, they’re more likely to associate keywords to a page. Going back to our example, a page that ranked for ‘payday loans online’ (34K) and had a high CTR will also now likely rank for ‘payday loans’ (160K).
This is how big players start ranking for long-tail keywords but eventually move on to claim those coveted, high-volume high-competition ‘money’ keywords.
That’s all good and well Gary, but what’s the point here?
The point is that CTR is important, but only because Google is more likely to validate pages if they’re getting traffic from Google’s own search engine. While overall website traffic is important, CTR will also help determine how a page will rank once it becomes associated with a certain query.
Through my own testing and experience, the algorithm seems to favour backlink juice and ‘PageRank’ (whatever that is now) more than estimated traffic and CTR.
However, those last two are still important because ultimately, they account for what end-users are gravitating towards in the SERPs.
In your link-building efforts, always go for links that have higher traffic over those that don’t – and, make sure that you’re sending higher traffic links to your most important pages with the right relevance.
And if you’re struggling, contact the team at Get Me Links and we’ll be happy to help you out.