One overlooked tactic for increasing Web site traffic is with frequency drivers — content, features or functionality that give visitors a reason to come back again.
A good example of a site with strong brand awareness, plenty of content and no frequency drivers is About.com, which has been built on a strategy of aggregated content written by “guides” who have some knowledge and credibility for what they write.
Its marketing strategy was based on building a strong search engine presence, which also became its undoing.
The New York Times Company bought About.com in 2005 for $410 million and just sold it for $300 million.
The loss of value was caused in part by Google.
“But About suffered from a decline in online traffic last year. Changes to Google’s search algorithm reduced the prominence of the group’s content, which has sometimes been criticized for lacking in substance. Revenue at the group tumbled 8.7 percent in its most recent quarter, to $25.4 million,” The Times said on its Media Decoder blog.
Relevance But Not Frequency
I have been to About.com many times because I found pages relevant to my searches near the top of Google results.
But I have never gone to About on my own volition because I thought it was the place to go for answering a question or getting information.
In other words, nothing about the site except for search engine results affected the frequency of my visits.
Apparently, the same problem became true for many other people when Google changed its algorithm.
Frequency Drivers: Funtionality and Content
Google itself is a frequency driver because the functionality of its search engine has value and gives people a reason to come back.
The same is true of other features it has developed in recent years including email, documents, calendar, contacts, etc.
In each case, the feature has ongoing use, value or benefit.
Weather and news media sites are good examples of frequency drivers using content.
People often go to weather sites daily or even several times a day to track the forecast.
They also go to news sites regularly to keep up with the headlines, especially for a major ongoing story.
Uniqueness Matters Too
A frequency driver by itself isn’t enough. It must be unique or at least be rare enough that site visitors will have trouble finding it elsewhere.
The local newspaper — especially in smaller communities — will have headlines and articles that are unlikely to be found elsewhere.
As a result, their uniqueness makes the frequency of visits more likely.
In contrast, weather forecast are frequency drivers, but weather forecasts can be found on thousands of sites.
A well-designed product that creates brand loyalty is the best way to hold onto those return visitors.
So frequency drivers keep people coming back. They ensure the longevity of the site because they boost revenue.
Finally, they must be either unique or have high enough quality to build and maintain loyalty.