Your site needs traffic. I’ going to show you where to find it, measure it; and keep it coming back.
You are a type of traffic by reading this page. No internet user escapes being part of a statistic in the data of thousands of commercial companies, bloggers, e-commerce giants and funny cat videos.
You could be organic traffic like the three point five billion searches Google deals with each day. Or, if you clicked a link to get here, you are referral traffic.
Measure for Measure
You’re interested in web traffic. So are we, because it’s fascinating to us. Our assumption here is that you want more. Maybe you’re a start-up, ready to get your brand out there on the high seas of search engine optimisation. Maybe you’ve been hauling out content for years and already have a trickle of traffic. To find out how and where to get more let’s lift the curtain with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a tool that shows you where your website’s traffic is coming from. Setting up an account is as easy as setting up a Google account. Once you’ve got Google’s Analytics installed, you can interpret your web traffic like a TV show interprets viewing figures.
- Open your Google account and click access Google Analytics.
- Click on Sign Up and fill in your details, including the name and URL of your site.
- Log into your account and click Traffic Sources, near the bottom, on the left.
Google Analytics measures four types of web traffic. Let’s get to know them…
Search Traffic: Otherwise known as Organic Traffic, this is web traffic that’s found you with a search engine.
Referral Traffic: You’ve posted a great piece of content somewhere. Someone shared it, someone else clicked; they are your referral traffic. If your content is remarkable, as Brian Halligan in his book Inbound Marketing puts it, you’ll get plenty of this traffic. Links to your site from good quality webpages increase your authority, which I’ll brush on later. Check out Brian Halligan’s book below.
Direct Traffic: This is when a user visits your site by typing your URL into the search bar. This is “direct” because there are no search engines between you and your clients. This kind of traffic comes easily to mega corps such as Apple and Amazon.
Campaign Traffic: You are paying for your traffic. There are many ways to do this. Google Adwords is a classic method many companies use alongside their SEO campaign. Just remember that no single source of traffic should be your only source, as I’ll point out later.
The Overview chart on Google Analytics tells you the percentage of traffic you’ve had over a recent period. Below you’ll see a pie chart. This chart will break down your overall traffic into the four traffic types; Referral, Direct, Campaign and Direct.
Google Analytics takes this data a step further. Let’s say you only want to track one kind of traffic. Search traffic might be the goal for your business…
- Open Google Analytics
- Click on Acquisition
- Go to All Traffic
- Click on Source/Medium
- On the left column you will see all sources of Search Traffic
If it’s search traffic you’re interested in, you can track the progress of your search traffic over a recent time period. This kind of information can help direct your business goals, but there is still that nagging question; what traffic should you be going for?
What’s your Racket?
Allow me to introduce you to the clever minds at Hubspot. Hubspot, a marketing automation giant, recently collected data for all of its 15000 customers and then split this data by industry, region, number of employees and type of business. The veil was lifted on who is getting what type of traffic in the world of inbound marketing.
To give an example, let’s look at the first category being measured, Industry. If you’re in construction, the chances are your traffic is going to be organic, as seen in data shown above. These are visitors that have chanced upon your website while sailing through a Google search result.
Now, lets say your racket is Real Estate. Hubspot’s report shows that, unlike construction, most of your traffic is direct. These site visitors directly type your URL into their browser. They must want to get to you and only you. Below, Hubspot have split the web traffic data based on company type, one of many graphs in this fascinating report.
Looking at all the major industries, direct traffic is everyone’s business, almost every website relies on it. There are, however, interesting variations. If you run a business with under five employees, your traffic is going to be largely organic. If you’ve scaled up your business and have hired more employees, get ready for a shift into direct traffic.
When it comes to deciding which form of traffic climbs higher than all others, it gets even more interesting. Consumer products, ecommerce, manufacturing, marketing and real estate are almost equally reliant on organic and direct traffic. The only exception is construction, which gains the majority of its traffic organically.
The figures show a safe starting point is both direct and organic traffic. Getting ahead in organic traffic means reaching the first page of a Google search. This, of course, means getting your keywords right to achieve a great page ranking or authority. The more you succeed in organic traffic, the more search engine authority you’ll get. This is even more so if people are posting links to your site on reputable web pages. Before moving on, let’s talk more about organic traffic and its Shortcomings.
Direct traffic is great for businesses that are well established, and have a large number of employees. However, if you are just starting out, the smart move would be to pursue organic traffic. That’s fine, but there is one thing to remember; Google Analytics will treat visitors who arrived at your webpage through Adwords, and those who found your webpage the organic way, both the same.
You can rest assured that Google Analytics has also found a way around this. You can now happily compare your paid vs non-paid traffic using a Search Console account. For more information on how to use this, click here.
Organic ain’t great without a click-through rate
In order to crank this search engine traffic and get it rolling all on your own steam, you’re going to need a good click-through-rate (CTR).
The definition of a click through rate is very simple. It is a ratio showing how often people click on your hyperlink, against how often they actually see it. When it comes to measuring your click-through-rate, we achieve a figure by dividing clicks by impressions. Below is a summary of the CTR equation.
Clicks are when people click through to your site from the search engine results page. We achieve “rate” by dividing these clicks by how often your site is shown on a search engine results page. We are talking strictly about the first page of a Google search here, the only one, lets face it, that is worth talking about.
What is this telling you so far? That a high ranking on Google isn’t much to boast about without that crucial click through rate. If your CTR is too low, the next step is to address how attention grabbing you really are. This way you’ll achieve the traffic you deserve.
A number of issues can affect your click-through rate. One example is your description not matching what’s in store for the customer. Just think about good old newspaper headlines and the function they serve. Your content might have all the high ranking keywords, after all, you’re on the first page of a Google search. But you have to keep in mind the title and the description are the first things a potential customer sees. Allow me to quote from Inbound Marketing (2014):
A meta-description is the description of your web page’s content. Every consumer product comes with a description and a web page is no exception. This description will not affect or appear in your web page content. A meta-description is outside of the page content, its only function is to hook people to the great content that lies within, so keep it relevant.
With the goal of a good CTR in mind, put yourself in your customers position. Is the description unique just like your content? Remember to include some of your crucial keywords because Google will do you the courtesy of putting them in bold font. Finally, be sure to keep your descriptions short and succinct. Think about the attention span of the average customer. There are other factors to consider when relying on organic web traffic.
Why Organic isn’t always Healthy?
How much search engine traffic is too much? The facts are this…
Google makes five hundred algorithm changes each year. Each change could decrease your sites Google search ranking. This results in your entire search engine traffic disappearing, along with a penalty from Google. There are numerous causes for this to happen.
There have been numerous algorithme updates. Their purposes have been varied, but they usually relate to quality, overstuffing of ads, and the financial security of visitors. A whole other article could be written on how to stay on top of these updates, but here are a few examples:
Panda: an algorythm update to combat against “Content Farms”. After this update, site developers had to change the way they thought about quality content.
Pidgeon: An algorythm update to improve the presence of local businesses with good keywords.
The crucial point to take away from this is that search engine traffic should not be your only source of traffic. The site Traffic Generation Cafe recommends relying on forty percent of your traffic to come from search engine traffic. Which other traffic source is a safe bet?
Organic and direct have held centre stage so far. After all, Hubspot’s study sited them as the two most important sources of traffic for major industries. But if you are promoting yourself well, you should be getting referral traffic. Any traffic that comes to your site via a hyperlink from any other site is known as referral traffic. This is something to aim for as it is a direct result of the quality of your content.
When you get a substantial amount of referral traffic to your webpage, your SEO authority is only going to increase. Furthermore, an increase in referral traffic is a strong indicator that your overall brand is succeeding. This is because people are making the choice to come to your domain. There is no megaphone in which you preach to potential customers about how great your brand is, they have sought you out.
A regular YouTube output can get you great referral traffic. A favourite channel of mine, FoodWishes broadcasts a short cooking demo each week. FoodWishes is viewed by millions of keen amateur cooks.
At the end of each video the viewer is invited to check out the special FoodWishes blog for the recipe of the dish being made in the video, with the trademark slogan “and as always, enjoy!”
FoodWishes now has over two million YouTube subscribers. Subscribers to one content platform mean positive results in another because great content produces great referral traffic. To get ahead of the traffic game, it’s worth kick starting a web traffic campaign. Slogging it out in a SEO campaign takes hours out of your day. Approaching a reputable company will sever that workload whilst still getting you the clicks. As long as you’re ready with the content you offer, bringing web users in to see it and convert is just a few clicks away. Here is a company I found helpful: Web Traffic Geeks.