Here's a first for me. Last week, Google Webmaster Tools sent me an email saying that one of my websites received a big traffic increase for a particular blog post. The post, written in February, covers Lindsey Vonn's need for bodyguards. Here is the full message from Google Webmaster Tools:
If you read the note literally, it seems as if this message is simply Google sending an FYI to webmasters to let them know that their website is seeing an influx of traction in search queries. While I find this very helpful as a webmaster to receive proactive notifications, I also can't help but wonder if there is an ulterior motive here? Or did we just happen to hit on an article in the right place at the right time?
Being the First Source to Break a Story = Huge Payoff?
If you follow the news (or Celebrity gossip/Sports sites), you have probably seen that Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn made their relationship Facebook Official. Being from Minnesota, I am well aware of who Lindsey Vonn is, but I am sure that many people didn't know who she was until they saw that she was dating Tiger Woods.
The Tiger Woods news is how many people became aware of Lindsey Vonn for the first time, and these people clearly turned to Google in order to find out more information. For some reason, Google found our website to be among the most relevant for this search term, and our traffic spiked.
Just How Much Did Traffic Spike?
Looking at the Search Query Report of Google Webmaster Tools data in Google Analytics, we see that impressions and clicks to our website spiked off the charts at the time of this announcement.
The first day of the spike we received 22,000 impressions, and after a week the post has seen 75,000 impressions in search results. The post has generated an estimated 900 clicks since the spike started as well. My favorite search term? Lindsey Vonn Butt. I'm very happy that we were deemed the relevant answer to that query.
Reproducing This Search Result
Oddly, I am not able to reproduce this result in the search engines right now, and I do not see an increase in search traffic actually showing up in the analytics for this website. The Organic Search report in Google Analytics is showing significantly less visits per day for all organic traffic than the Google Webmaster Tools report indicates.
Lindsey Vonn doesn't even crack my top 10 search keywords at this time either, which would indicate much of the traffic came through as (not provided).
Timing is Everything
In the world of search, timing can be everything. We happened to be in the right place at the right time, but this is something we should be able to turn into a consistent traffic driver in the future by writing timely content and placing it on our website well before big news breaks.
This is a method that was mentioned in Search Engine Watch a few weeks ago, where the author talks about growing organic search traffic through timely content.
Can You Count on Traffic Spikes from Search Queries?
Unless you can see into a crystal ball, the chances are unlikely that you can consistently count on this type of traffic to your site. However, this type of spike does have other benefits. For example, you may find that with an influx of traffic to your site you see many more links coming in as well. This can help the overall domain authority of your site and help your post rank well in the future.
You may also be able to turn your new visitors into email subscribers, RSS readers or even have them bookmark your site for future reference. All of these can be a nice little bonus from your unexpected spike in search engine fame.
Who Else Has Received This Message?
I may not have been looking hard, but this is the first I have heard about this message from Google Webmaster Tools. Has anyone else experienced a spike in traffic for a query and received this email from GWT? Did your traffic actually spike or was it a false alarm from Google like this appears to be?
I would love to hear about it in the comments or compare notes offline.