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Search Engine Traffic or Daily Visitors, Which Is Better?

by Paul on April 7th, 2005

I don’t have that large a “readership.” What I do have is a boatload of “visitors” via google. ;)

I see a big difference there and it dictates how I use my site. My readership is more important to me, but I don’t get much “ROI” from them, if you know what I mean. And that’s fine…


Here is an interesting point that many blog owners will come across over time. Do you focus on viewers that will come to your site from search engine results or do you focus on your readership that has helped you grow from day one? The easy answer is both, but money-wise there are two completely different approaches to take with each.

Search Engine Visitors

The affiliate market pros will tell you that these are the people you covet. Whether they come from a search results or a PPC ad on a search engine, these readers go to a site with an intention to either find information or buy something. My guess (and I have to say guess here since I don’t have statistical evidence backing me up) is that most of your AdSense clicks will come from these readers.

When writing content you are partially writing it for these people in the future to click on your ads and not for your current readership to click on (although that would be nice). What you have to have though is patience because search engine traffic does not occur overnight and this a large reason why many people get frustrated initially when creating a blog. They expect instant results and wish to see the money rolling in immediately. Sorry to say things just don’t work out that way.

So what audience do you cater to while you wait for the search engines?

Daily Readership

Let me get this out of the way first. This is the most important audience for you if you are running a blog. They don’t provide the clicks like the search engine readers do, but what they do provide you with is the ability to rank highly in search engines. Your daily readership keeps your pageviews at a consistent level (hopefully one that is rising monthly) and are the ones that link to your site from others. Without them you could basically end up with no search engine visitors.

But how can you make money from this type of audience?

A crude question for sure since you shouldn’t be focused on money (*cough*), but let’s be honest and say that if you are providing your knowledge and hard work on a site for free, it would be nice to see a little kickback from time to time. I have two real-world examples that will help me explain what you can do to increase your revenue stream.


If you are not familiar with 37signals, I suggest you visit their site and read up on them. They run a popular weblog called Signal vs. Noise that more than likely isn’t a cashcow. However, as a company most of the time you have a weblog to attract new clients, but Jason Fried, the owner, has stated that he thinks he only received one client from their blog. So what purpose does it serve?

Last year they launched a new project management web application called Basecamp that catered to their specific blog audience. The end result? 15% of their time and revenue now comes from working with clients, while the other 85% is Basecamp (with some book sales mixed in).

Your daily readership can provide greater revenue than search engine visitors ever could. You simply have to provide them with a product or service they are willing to pay for.

Dan Cederholm

Dan Cederholm runs his own design firm along with a popular web design blog. If you have read this blog for any amount of time you know that to make money from a blog you have to find a good niche topic that has a decent amount of high-paying keywords (yes there are other methods, but this is a good one) and let me tell you that web design is not one of those niches.

So instead of going the advertiser route with his blog, Dan decided to repackage most of his blog’s content into a book and make some money from that. You can do the same thing if your content is of good quality and even better you can package it in an ebook to skip the middleman. Just because you write something doesn’t mean that it has served its purpose. Repackage and reuse.

So which type is better?

As you can see it really depends on how you wish to make your money. The best route is to aim for both types of readership since there is no reason to close the doors on more money.


11 opinions for Search Engine Traffic or Daily Visitors, Which Is Better?

  • Geoff
    Apr 7, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    I enjoy your posts and the resources you provide. I’m definitely in the category of having some consistent readers but few clickers, and your post is getting me thinking about ways to provide more value to them without trying to take advantage of them.

  • Chris Vincent
    Apr 7, 2005 at 12:53 pm

    Don’t forget Cederholm’s Stockholm web application icon set that he sells through his blog.

  • Scrivs
    Apr 7, 2005 at 12:54 pm

    And he is writing another book…

  • JLP
    Apr 7, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I say you need both. As of right now, I get very little traffic from search results (however, I have noticed a few results trickling in. I’m hoping that is the start of a good thing!). All of my traffic comes from my RSS feed and my links to other personal finance bloggers.

    I don’t have much hope of making much money off adsense until my blog starts getting better placement in the google’s search results.

    One other thing, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article last week about what publishers are looking for in authors: a following. If a person has aspirations of becoming a published writer, I can’t think of a better way to start than with a blog.


  • Keith
    Apr 7, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    It’s funny because I’ve thought about a book too. But you don’t make much from that. It’s really a pity how little good “Web geek” content can be worth in terms of dollars.

    Anyway, I value my readership much more that I do Google traffic — without them I’ve got no Google traffic, for one thing.

    On Asterisk, the goal was never to make money.

    Although I’ve been exploring ideas there, mostly in ways that I feel will not be obtrusive to my regular readers.

    What I’m doing is starting some new sites, much like what you did, Scrivs, where I can maybe focus some content elsewhere. I’d like to develop a readership there as well, and, again, it’s not all about money. But I do see how sites on other topics might have more return monetarily.

  • James Archer
    Apr 7, 2005 at 2:57 pm

    I’m probably going the book route with my sites. It’s actually a great way to get a book done, because you can do it incrementally, get feedback each step of the way, etc. It brings out ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of if you were simply thinking “Okay, gotta write a book now.”

    I think you’re absolutely right about click revenue coming from search engine visitors, though, because regular visitors get into viewing habits, and your ads become invisible to them.

    (Without looking, for example, I couldn’t say where the ads on your site are — I just don’t notice them.)

  • Ben
    Apr 7, 2005 at 3:03 pm

    I was actually going to allow my visitors to register (no email address required). Registered users (who are probably my regulars) would have the option of not seeing any ads. Makes the user experience better for regular visitors who aren’t going to click too many ads anyway.

  • Michael Moncur
    Apr 7, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    Writing a book is great, but I wouldn’t expect it to make you very much money right now. The bubble might very well be coming back, but I don’t see the tech book market getting any better right now.

    Personally, I stopped writing books to focus on my web sites, which make much more money.

  • Matt
    Apr 7, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    I am in the same boat as Keith and Geoff, I have the readers and clicks from search engines but not many ad clicks.
    The problem I see is not matter what you do with ads, even if you try and change there appearance or place on your site - How do can you make someone click the ads? You can’t
    The readers my realise that by clicking the link they are putting money in your pocket and why would they want to do that?

  • Nicole Simon
    Apr 7, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    The daily listenership is the reason why I blog. And to be honest, some search result on my blog really surprises me - and if I had it planed, I would never thought of blogging about that special topic.

    In the longer run, the pages are getting search engine trafficon those various topics.

    As motivation goes, I do have one german blog, where my motivation is somehow lacking. I finally put adsense on it and it really has a very nice revenue from search engine visitors I guess - this will help me writing again for my daily visitors.

    So this is kind of a circle. :)

  • figby.com
    Apr 8, 2005 at 1:06 am

    Making Money from Content Sites: Search traffic and regular readers

    Reading Paul Scrivens’ article at WorkBoxers,
    [Search Engine Traffic or Daily Visitors, Which is better?][2], I was reminded of a similar article that’s been sitting in my pile of rough drafts for a while, so I decided to finish it. Here’s my take…

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