Posted January 23, 2008 3:20 pm by with 6 comments

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Whether you’re an in-house SEO or an SEO consultant, you’ve likely faced the affects of search volume fluctuations on your website traffic. So how can you explain these search volume fluctuations to your boss or a client?

Many times, I’ve found that clients do not correlate news events with search volume. I’m not sure why this is a difficult concept to understand, but a look at Google Trends or the Yahoo!’s Buzz demonstrate a very direct correlation between news stories and search volume. For instance, on Monday, Martin Luther King Day (or Lee/Jackson/King Day in Virginia — that’s a whole other blog post for later…), “Martin Luther King” was the top searched term. Two days later, however, it’s “Heath Ledger” that’s on everyone’s mind.

I’ve used both the Google Trends and Yahoo! Buzz to try to explain the correlation to clients. It can be confusing for them to see spikes in traffic in their analytics and not truly understand why — or why that traffic doesn’t continue.

On January 17, one of my clients saw a huge surge for the term “surviving a recession”. That term is not a very targeted term for this client, so the traffic surprised us. Traffic nearly quadrupled that day, and that day only. It happened that was the same day that President Bush announced the stimulus package to help us all in “surviving a recession”, and the traffic was to a ranked blog post about surviving a recession that they posted last Fall.

How do you help clients or your boss understand such fluctuations? I’d love to hear your ideas on tools or approaches. I find it a challenging conversation at times — perhaps I’m just too close to it all.

  • I think it is but natural that search volumes is directly affected by news. How it affects a site and how to explain it is another thing. In the keyword centric world of SEO, it’s always about relevancy of content to the search, (that a given).

    A spike in volume is welcomed but I always focus on sustained volume, the general trend.

  • I’ve had many clients to whom I’ve explained internet related things … All you can do is keep explaining … at least that’s my motto …

    The problem is that it takes so much energy to do so …

    Lex –

  • I have a good idea: “Stop chasing for traffic spikes and think in a surfers’ shoe.”

    I realize marketers who love SEO will do lots of keyword research and then aim for one that’s high in volume and low in competition. But they forget to ask themselves “If I am a buyer who are interested in knowing more about the products’ information, will I type this word?”

  • Alex,

    I think the real issue here was not that we were even targeting that high-spiking word. It was really a problem in trying to explain to the client that news and current events can affect search volume on certain words and even create spikes in traffic — even without trying.


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