Impact of Organic Search Traffic on Mailing List Sign-Ups

I’m delighted that this site’s Google traffic has now fully recovered from the post-Panda pounding it suffered back in March 2011.

There was no good reason I (or others) could see for losing 60% of our Google traffic, but it happens. Google giveth and Google taketh away.

So we carried on as normal, publishing good stuff and not really doing any SEO at all (which, ironically, is the best type of SEO you can do, from Google’s point of view anyway).

And the organic traffic has recovered, going back up (in a spookily straight line) to the point that this week has seen our busiest Googling days on record.


Mailing List Subscriptions Also Up

I’ve also noticed that new sign-ups to my mailing list (see the promo at the bottom of the page if you’re not on my list, because you should be!) are also very healthy – notching up around 50-60 on a good day.

Was there any connection? You decide.

Here are two graphs.

  • The top one is my new mailing list sign-ups from AWeber, recorded weekly for the past 52 weeks.
  • The one below is the rise in organic search traffic on this site.

Now, I’d say there is a correlation. The graphs do not follow exactly, but sign-ups have doubled in line with the doubling of organic traffic.

There are clear anomalies.

  1. The Christmas dip (the triangular bite out of the traffic in the lower graph) is not so visible in the sign-ups (although it is there).
  2. In the months before Christmas, there is a large chunk of sign-ups missing, all the way from October to December 2011. (I have no idea why that would be the case. I don’t think I did anything different.)

Overall, the graphs track, as you’d probably expect.

But does that mean there’s anything special about visits from organic search?

Here’s the overall traffic pattern over the same period.

Yes, the general trend is still there. Overall, traffic now is about double what it was a year ago.

But you can also see some crazy peaks. They’re mainly due to surges of traffic from StumbleUpon (which I’ve written about before, seeing no impact in sign-ups when we get those boosts).

The StumbleUpon peaks are not echoed in the newsletter sign-ups.

Referral Traffic

Here’s the graph for all referral traffic, which includes StumbleUpon. As you can see, this has the least correlation with the newsletter sign-ups, varying wildly and being pretty flat, with the exception of the SU surges.


Let’s be thorough. What about direct traffic?

Nope. direct traffic represents a relatively small proportion of overall traffic (about 10%), it does not double over the 12 months, and does not track the newsletter sign-ups.

In fact, the direct traffic matches the overall traffic trend pretty closely, suggesting that a certain proportion of all visitors (including StumbleUpon) will be likely to bookmark the site and return to it later.


Organic search traffic seems to have the greatest impact on newsletter sign-up rates.

This suggests that people who have a specific need or query, and who find the answer they’re looking for, are most likely to trust the source and therefore to sign up to get more information.

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