Applying the Pareto Principle to Web Traffic and Social Media

In trying to build up the page views and conversions on your website, you may be tempted to take the shotgun approach to traffic building. This is only natural and, in the beginning, it’s actually not that terrible of an idea. You may work on improving the SEO of your website, for example, to help drive more traffic from the search engines. You might work to grow your mailing list, so you get more return traffic from your email subscribers. You might develop your social media presence, so you get more referrals from Facebook and Twitter.

The thing is that this traffic is not all made alike and you’re not going to get the same return on investment (ROI) on all of these channels. Some stuff is just going to work better stuff, and this leads us right back to the Pareto Principle. Just as a quick refresher, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. You’ll find this just about everywhere. 80% of the world’s wealth is held by 20% of the people. And 80% of your income comes from 20% of your work.

So, what does this mean in the context of growing the number of unique monthly visitors you get on your website? What does it mean in terms of getting more referrals, more clicks, and more conversions? As with so much else in the world of Internet marketing, it boils down to the numbers. And that’s why you need to keep close tabs on your metrics.


When you log into your Google Analytics account, you can see the different sources of web traffic that you are receiving. You can see the percentage of page views that are coming from organic Google searches, the percentage of views coming from backlinks on other sites, and the percentage coming from social networks like Facebook. If you’ve been tracking how much time and effort you’ve been putting into each of these groupings, you can work out a rough ROI.

The key take-home lesson from the 80/20 rule is that you can learn how to work more efficiently. If you find that you are spending a lot of time promoting your content on Twitter, but Twitter referrals account for a minuscule amount of traffic, then your efforts may be better spent elsewhere. Maybe you see that Facebook is driving more traffic for you. By ramping up your efforts there, you’ll likely enjoy greater gains than if you tried to bring your Twitter numbers up to par.

Once again, though, you have to remember that not all traffic is made alike. Maybe Facebook is sending your website a lot of unique visitors and page views, but maybe these visitors aren’t fulfilling your call to action. They’re not signing up for your membership program, or they’re not buying your ebook. They just come, read a post, and bounce right on out.

Hypothetically speaking, perhaps the traffic coming from your email newsletter is comparatively much smaller. The actual number of visitors might be far less than what you’re getting through social media, but these users are converting at a far higher level. Again, you have to ensure you have the right tracking tools in place for this kind of analysis. With this hypothetical example, your newsletter traffic is far more valuable than your social media traffic. It might pay to spend more time there rather than working on your SEO, for example.

It all starts with having the right data in your hands so you can make the best-educated decision. You are only one person and you only have so much time. After you’ve figured out where your efforts are best utilized, you can concentrate, and then diversify again down the road. By that time, the 80% of your income is going to be a much larger number, and you can better enjoy the dot com lifestyle as a result.

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