Internet traffic flow is simply the paths taken by people to navigate between web pages. Some of these paths are eight lane freeways with thousands of people passing through each minute. Others might seem more like a city street with a four way stop every other block. Then there are the back trails in the woods, rarely traveled and known only to a few.
Think back on your daily internet activities and you will realize that you have traveled a few paths, some more traveled than others. When you logged on you probably checked your email. I might be going out on a limb here but this is probably a fairly narrow yet beaten trail. You are probably the only person to travel this path and I would guess you navigate through it often.
Then you may have traveled to your favorite blog to see what PtrWigg thinks about international business today. You read his latest blog and find he has a link to a related business site to illustrate his point. You decide to swing by that site to get more background information. While there you find a link to another interesting site on globalization. The process of traveling though the blog, through the business site and into the globalization site is in itself a path.
Alright, that is all pretty basic. I’m sure you already understood this much even if you have never thought of the internet in this way. While this concept is very simple in nature I don’t think webmasters always take it into consideration when developing a website and SEOs seem to rarely consider it while optimizing for one.
So how does a webmaster develop a site with the “Flow” in mind? I believe the first step is in realizing that each page not only contains a path within itself but more importantly is a step within a path. Lets say you have created a page with an article on how to give a business presentation. You may have superbly supplied a facet of information but all information by itself is useless.
Does it really matter if you know how to give a business presentation if you can’t dress yourself, tie your shoes, comb your hair, eat breakfast, drive to work, operate a projector and speak in public? Obviously we are going to assume that your users are capable of doing everything up until the operate a projector step. Information is only useful when it is collaborated with other bits of information.
So ask yourself what path your average user is most likely on and if possible provide for him or her to continue on that path. All it takes is a little forethought and a few links to appropriate resources.
I think for the most part webmasters are pretty good about developing their sites with traffic flow in mind. While professional SEO experts may take the internet traffic flow model into account when promoting a website through link building this does not appear to be a common practice among webmasters.
Today the primary objective in link building seems simply to get ranked by the top search engines. The two most common link building techniques completely ignore internet traffic flow. Webmasters like to get links from directories and exchanging reciprocal links. The problem is the average user does not spend very much time viewing average directories and even less time viewing link exchange pages.
Doesn’t this seem a little backwards? Webmasters are trying to gain exposure for their sites by spending time listing their sites in places that other people generally don’t visit. If we were to apply this to offline marketing it would be like if I purchased a billboard in the middle of the desert promoting bottled water. People in the middle of nowhere may want bottled water but doesn’t it seem like a better idea promoting where there may actually be people to see it?
I’m not saying webmasters should not submit their sites to directories but I absolutely believe that their marketing mix should not consist of only directory submission and reciprocal link exchanging. I believe it is very important to focus on link building within the flow.
The concept isn’t difficult. Figure out where your site naturally fits within the flow. Then try to contextually exchange links or purchase links on pages within paths your target user is most likely on. This will help you tap into long term sources of targeted traffic regardless of your search engine rankings. This method will require considerably more time to build the same number of backlinks but the search engines will reward you for the superb quality of links.