Quality Traffic? Treat Your Readers Like Human Beings not Numbers

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone


Orwellian Newspeak is abundant nowadays. We speak about “collateral damage”, “ethnic cleansings” or “human resources”.

In SEO/SEM we have also terms like this. Quality traffic is an abominable term which for most marketers means something like visitors who are interested in your subject matter, stay on your site for a while and at best buy something. Nothing ugly here you think?

Well, I prefer to treat others and be treated like myself like a real human being.

It’s the same story with link bait, a term I despise, as your visitors are not fish.

So what’s the underlying problem here? Isn’t it just a term like dozens of others in SEO nobody else would understand anyways? Well, no. It’s a word that shows that you don’t care who or rather what your visitors are. They are human beings, not numbers and certainly not amorph traffic. What’s really most despicable about this term is the “quality”.

Quality is such a nice word, isn’t it? No! Not here. I’m not a fucking product to buy or sell, I’m not a slave on the Web 2.0 market to be priced and sold!

So do not talk about my quality! I was a linguist and poet before turning SEO so I still care for language and the usage of words. Some of you might wonder how come I express myself so clumsily then at times. Well, English is my third language. Polish was first, my mother tongue, German was second and then came English. So from this point of view my English is great! Besides I also learned Spanish and French but I suck at both, c’est la vie.

So what’s the point of this? You should treat your audience like real people, like human beings not numbers. You should visualize them, treat them like real human beings made of flesh and blood. Also you should strive to make them your friends. Not in the loose Web 2.0 sense of “adding friends”.

You really should befriend them or at least you should make them feel like the

  • mothers,
  • Americans,
  • dreamers,
  • farmers,
  • Buddhists,
  • bloggers

they are. In many cases they are many of those at once.

I hate it when people treat me like an SEO, or rather like the cliche of an SEO they know.

They don’t know anything about me personally, but they label me already somewhere along the lines of beggars and terrorists.

In SEO 2.0 you harness the power of people’s compassion. To do that you must accept as and treat them like human beings not numbers.

Then there is a hierarchy like in real life outside the family. You have

  1. mentors,
  2. friends,
  3. partners,
  4. colleagues,
  5. acquaintances,
  6. guests,
  7. clients,
  8. casual visitors,
  9. strangers.

So to succeed online, like in real life, you need to classify your visitors and other people you “meet” online.

You probably notice that clients are very low in this hierarchy. Imagine yourself to be a book shop owner sitting all day in his shop. Who do you want to sell something? Your mentors, friends, partners, colleagues? Unless you’re into Amway you probably will not target them specifically.

So let’s categorize the people who visit your blog according to this hierarchy:

  1. mentors – people who are leading in their area of expertise and you look up to, Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin, Maki of Dosh Dosh e.g. in my case
  2. friends – fellow bloggers like Fred, Shana or Pearl who I often cooperate with
  3. partners – people who not always share your interests or preferences but work together with you like Wayne
  4. colleagues – people who do the same work as you, other SEO bloggers e.g
  5. acquaintances – people I will encounter a few times on StumbleUpon, Sphinn or Pownce
  6. guests – people who will visit me and we chat a little, other bloggers
  7. clients – people I have only money relations with, I also have money relations with some of the above though, but this is important to see that clients are usually treated like being very low in this hierarchy (this is not to say that they should be treated like that), SEO company represenatatives
  8. casual visitors – they won’t talk to you, they are just there, stumblers
  9. strangers – you won’t even notice them most of the time, Google visitors

Successful blogging is about talking to strangers. You should make them feel like your friends though without feigning it.

So let’s take a second look at the hierarchy:

  1. mentors – Aaron Wall or Maki visits my site, I rol out the red carpet
  2. friends – fellow bloggers I really appreciate visit me, I offer my best sweets and some refreshments
  3. partners – I am respectful but I don’t say yes just to be friendly
  4. colleagues – I am polite and helpful
  5. acquaintances – I say hello
  6. guests – I smile
  7. clients – I ask “can I help you?”
  8. casual visitors – I make eye contact (difficult but not impossible on the Net today)
  9. strangers – I may ignore them or not

Now this sounds a little like a status quo. Now you have to promote each kind person visiting you to the next level. So I make eye contact with strangers, I ask casual visitors if I can help them and I smile at my clients, saying hello. At best I talk to strangers.

You do not have enough red carpets for all of them but many more than in real life. Make your visitors your friends!