What is Search Engine Traffic?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Search engine traffic is Internet traffic which is driven to a website by a search engine. Many people are concerned with their search engine traffic, since they rely on Internet searches to get hits on their sites. Some professionals even specialize in increasing traffic from search engines for their clients, using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics which are designed to make a page easier to find by increasing its status in the eyes of the search engines which constantly crawl the Internet.

Whenever someone searches for something on the Internet with a search engine, a list of results is generated. The goal is to make those results as relevant as possible to the specific search, so that someone searching for “puppies” didn't get websites about kittens. Every time someone clicks a link provided by a search engine, this is search engine traffic.

Many webmasters keep track of the traffic to their sites with various web statistics programs. These programs allow the webmaster to see where people came from, how long they stayed on a site, and what they did there. When someone comes from a search engine, the webmaster will be able to see which search engine referred the traffic, and which keywords the user typed in to search. Over time, the webmaster may start to see patterns which reveal information about the kind of content which draws in users.


Getting search engine traffic is not just about getting people to land on a site with the use of a search engine. It is also about targeting specific users to increase sales, pageviews, or whatever desired outcome a site is trying to go for. On a site which sells a product, for example, search engine optimization would include the optimization of the site for specific search keywords which are used by people who are potential buyers, rather than casual users.

The amount of search engine traffic received by a site is heavily dependent on its web page rankings. Search engines use a complex algorithm to rank the sites they index, looking at things like links to and from the sites and overall content. A site like the New York Times, for example, has a very high search ranking, because it is considered a reputable source, thanks to the high amount of incoming links, and it has a huge amount of content. On the other hand, a newly-created blog would have a low ranking, because it would have minimal content and no links from other sites, leading the search engine to conclude that it would be of little relevance to searchers.


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