Sugarrae published an interesting study on her blog a couple months ago. It’s entitled You Don’t Need SEO to Rank in Google. It basically shows that increasing your traffic can help your rankings. Usually we think of it backwards. We do SEO to increase our traffic, but if you have a knack for attracting visitors without doing SEO, your rankings will improve as a by product.
In the study, Sugarrae wrote about an experiment she did with Tweetwasters, one of her sites. Tweetwasters went viral right after it was launched. It received a lot of traffic in the next couple of hours. When she checked some factors search experts use to evaluate a site’s ability to rank, she saw that Tweetwasters had the characteristics of authority site. For example, the site outranked authority sites that wrote about it including her own site, Digg, and TechCrunch. Also, she had a couple hundred pages indexed and the word tweetwasters was no longer considered a misspelling by Google.
She did not do any SEO so the cause of her rankings had to be the traffic.
The study is may be too technical if you don’t have a lot of SEO experience. But here’s the gist: Google has made traffic a big factor in their search algorithm. It did not use to be that way. I think Google made this change to be relevant since social media has become a huge force on the internet.
My nofollowed link from Twitter is more valuable to me than my dofollow link from TechCrunch because it sends me traffic on a regular basis that sends the right signals to Google while bringing actual human beings to my site.
So, what’s the takeaway? Well, if you do SEO and also figure out ways to get traffic without search engines, you have a huge advantage over other sites that just focus on doing SEO.