Mixed blessings for SEM come from a Boston University study entitled Traffic Characteristics and Communication Patterns in the Blogosphere.
First, the good news: the majority of blog traffic comes from search engines. Search engines accounted for 43% of referral traffic in the blogosphere. Hurray for search engine marketers! Their diagram of referral traffic (below) does not include the 28% of blogosphere traffic without any referral data (probably bookmark or type-in traffic).
Now for the bad news: “Despite the intimacy between traffic and search, however, optimizing a blog for search engine algorithms does not win the blogs retention or popularity,” as MarketingVOX put it. Yep, all the rankings in the world don’t make your blog well read, popular or sticky. You have to do that.
MarketingVOX does give some advice to bloggers struggling to retain search engine traffic:
This suggests that while high search rankings get traffic through the door, bloggers must still ensure the presence and accessibility of quality content relevant to what people are seeking. Involvement in a network of similar bloggers can also help a website flourish. Even in the blogosphereâ€”perhaps especiallyâ€”popularity remains a networking game.
Content and networking still rule the day.
Now for the disclaimer: this study was performed on a subset of the blogosphere located in Brazil, which granted the researchers access to their logfiles. Do you think the findings would hold true for the US?