A few days ago, I had a call with a friend of mine. He’s the Head of Growth at a high-growth SaaS firm based in the UK. A big part of their growth comes from organic search and this makes anything around search engine optimization (SEO) at the company important.
Acquiring users from organic search can be a beautiful thing, but it can be a tricky one as well. After all, you're building your house on another person's property.
At one point during the call, my friend told me: “I was thinking about the advice you gave me the other day — that we should diversify our sources for acquisition through organic search.”
"What made you think about it?" I replied.
“What's usually one of our best performing pieces dropped from the top position the other day and, to be honest, the whole SEO team panicked. This piece is our best performer and brings in a lot of leads for us — high-quality leads that have a great conversion rate. It's now down at position number eight or nine - looks like we've lost our momentum.”
I nudged him to continue.
“I got to thinking; we can’t be dependent on just one piece of content to generate leads and we need to start building other resources that can help us diversify the risk of having just one piece of content generating the majority of our leads.”
Sounds a bit extreme, right? It’s actually something that we experience pretty often, especially with smaller websites, both in terms of traffic and in terms of their number of pages.
We want to provide some practical advice to all SaaS companies experiencing the same issue and so we've created a short and handy guide to organic traffic diversification.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What is Organic Traffic Diversification?
Organic traffic diversification is the process of diversifying the organic traffic sources that are connected with very specific metrics that determine — at least to a certain extent — the success of your content and SEO strategy.
Even though the need for organic traffic diversification is something that, as I said above, we mostly see on smaller websites; having worked with websites that receive millions of monthly users, I can assure you that this is a real problem that bigger websites also face.
The definition that we just shared isn’t something that you’ll find on most websites, blogs, and publications around content and SEO. The term organic traffic diversification is something that — at least to the best of our knowledge — hasn't been coined or used as a widely accepted term in the content and SEO industry.
That’s not to say that we’re the only ones who identify the above as an issue, rather that we’re the only ones who identify it as an issue that’s important enough for us to write a guide about it.
The definition that we shared above has a very important element:
“…metrics that determine — at least to a certain extent — the success of your content and SEO strategy”
These metrics can be different for every company and even for every source.
For example, a piece of content or page may be important because it helps your company acquire users through the free trial that you offer.
Another content piece may be important because it ranks for several relevant keywords that are important to your product’s capabilities.
Regardless, we’ve found the most common metrics companies connect with “success” from an organic standpoint to be the following:
- Organic impressions
- Number of organic clicks
- Number of organic keywords
- Number of passively and actively acquired backlinks
- Number of people who took an action that’s important to you
The action in the last point may refer to any kind of action that’s important to your business, which may or may not be connected to a monetary value.
In a nutshell, organic traffic diversification helps you “protect” any of the above metrics by trying to be less dependent on fewer pieces of content or pages to help you reach your goals.
Why is this important?
This is what we’re going to cover next.
Why is Organic Traffic Diversification Important?
Let’s forget about SEO for a second and let think about investing.
If you’ve ever got involved in, or are still actively involved in investing, then you know that “portfolio diversification” isn’t just a smart choice to make, but also necessary if you want to maintain what you already have.
Why is that?
Because, to put it simply, you wouldn’t want to put all your eggs in the same basket.
The same applies to SEO.
Your success can’t be dependent on the success of just one or a few pieces of content or pages.
That’s not to say that a website shouldn’t have and be proud of its best performers.
After all, thinking of the Pareto principle, we understand that it’s almost inevitable to have roughly 20% of your pages being the ones that generate the 80% of your outcomes.
However, when we talk about business and the jobs of real people being on the line because of the performance of specific pieces of content or pages, I’d say that — in a similar way to investing — diversification isn’t just a smart choice, but also absolutely necessary.
The question, of course, is:
How can you achieve organic traffic diversification?
That’s what we’re going to check out next.
How to Achieve Organic Traffic Diversification
In general, there are two ways to achieve organic traffic diversification:
- On a micro-level
- On a macro-level
Let’s start with the first one.
Organic traffic diversification on a micro level
Organic traffic diversification on a micro-level is the effort of identifying opportunities for diversification within the limits of organic search.
Here, our goal isn't to find other channels we could use to diversify the sources that are connected with very specific metrics, rather than to find other sources inside the same channel; organic search.
How can this be achieved?
Let’s use MINUTTIA as an example.
One of the best performing posts on our blog is one we wrote a while back on “blog post templates”. As you can see below, this page accounts for 79% of our total traffic, according to Ahrefs.
Let’s assume, for the sake of example, that the metric that defines our success here for us is organic traffic.
If that’s true, then, pinning our entire success on just one post isn't a wise business move.
For starters, competition on the SERPs for the target term “blog post template” is really intense, which means that a website like MINUTTIA’s could easily lose its ranking and, by extension, the amount of traffic it receives from organic search at any time.
On top of that, since we’re talking about SEO where change is constant — and, in most cases, not easy to explain — we could lose our relatively high position, resulting in losing the organic visits we receive from that single post.
As you can see, being dependent on just this single piece of content isn’t something we should do.
Author’s Note: That's only an example, since that particular blog post has no commercial value for us whatsoever and we really don’t define our success through the number of organic visits we receive, but it’s very telling of the hard reality that many SaaS companies experience.
What can you do to protect the metrics that are important to you and that are tied to specific pieces of content and pages?
Here are some solutions you should consider:
- Try to find relevant keywords you could target that belong to the same “family” of keywords - in our example, that could be something like “how to write a blog post”
- Try to improve the performance of other blog posts, pages, and assets you have on your website that could perform better if updated
- Try to optimize other content pieces, pages, or assets on your website for the metric that determines your success
All the above aren’t recommended as a way to de-value those resources on your website that help you achieve what’s important to you.
Rather, they’re recommended to help diversify the risk and thus be in the position to maintain your results and reach your goals, even if something goes wrong.
If none of the above solutions work in your case — which is highly unlikely — then you should try to achieve organic traffic diversification on a macro-level.
Let’s see what this is all about.
Organic traffic diversification on a macro-level
Organic traffic diversification on a micro-level is the effort of identifying opportunities for diversification outside of the limits of organic search.
What does that mean and how can it be achieved?
Here, we should think about which other channels we have available to help achieve the same results that the content pieces or pages currently help us to achieve, if not even better them.
Some recommendations are:
- Using paid search for the same or other relevant keywords if the metric that defines your success is conversions or some kind of action with monetary value
- Producing YouTube videos that target the same keywords if the metric that defines your success is simply how many visits you receive
- Trying to develop relationships with other websites on the same search engine result page (SERP) as the one you’re interested in as a way to acquire referral traffic
- Producing resources that are similar to the ones you want to de-risk if the metric that defines your success is passive or active link-building acquisition
- Using social media to generate traffic back to the pages you’re interested in
All the above are ways of reducing the risk of being dependent on one or more content pieces or pages on your website.
They require you to go out of the strict limits of your content and SEO strategy, but they’re essential if you don’t want to be dependent on just one channel.
Let’s wrap this up and close with some final thoughts.
Now Over to You
Organic traffic diversification is a real thing.
What makes it real, is the risk you take when your success is dependent on one just a few pages on your website.
In that context, diversification isn’t only real, it’s also necessary.
We’ve experienced first-hand how hard that can be for a business that’s heavily dependent on a few pages several times with our clients already.
Nowadays, the advice that we give is the same:
If you want to have better and steady results, diversify your organic traffic both on a micro- and macro-level.
There’s no one size fits all solution here.
We hope that the ones that we've shared above are enough to help you get started.