63% of marketers use web traffic as a key performance indicator for their websites. This makes sense. For one thing, checking web traffic is like taking your temperature: it’s a good indication of overall health.
For another, more visitors to your website usually means more appointments, more sales, more leads — all the real-world KPIs.
But we recently had a client tell us that his increased web traffic didn’t translate into more sales. If that’s true for you, then web traffic can end up being just another vanity metric.
Make sure you’re measuring the right web traffic
If you’re not sure that your website’s traffic is meaningful, you might be measuring it wrong. We’ll give you some examples, using Google Analytics.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you counting bots? While Google Analytics does a good job of filtering out bots, you have to ask for this service. The screenshot below shows the Views Settings page for our lab site. Note that we’ve checked the Bot Filtering option. You should do the same. Bot traffic will not be included in your analytics.
- Are you looking at visitors from your service area? While it doesn’t do you any harm to have visitors from other countries at your website, it might not do you much good from the point of view of sales. If you’re a chiropractor, out-of-state visitors probably won’t become patients. So you will want to pay more attention to efforts that get you more visits from people near you. Find locations in your Google Analytics Audience Report. This report from our lab site doesn’t raise any concerns, because we have no particular service area.
- Are you looking at manipulated traffic? We’ve seen this at websites that have had shady “SEO” companies working for them. You can pay people to come to your website, but they won’t become customers. You can also pay companies to send bot traffic to you, which is even more pointless. You can even have a viral post that draws lots of traffic to your website and results in no benefit for your business because the people being drawn are not your customers. The fantasy behind this may be a hope that all those people who want to read about JLo will be so intrigued by your products that they will turn into shoppers. If your goods and services have nothing to do with JLo, that’s not likely. By the way, ads can also give you brief traffic spikes. Annotate your ads.
Increasing targeted traffic
Now that you’ve found the traffic you need to measure, how can you increase it? We do this for our clients all the time. Here’s how:
- Optimize your website so it communicates well with the search engines.
- Add fresh, high quality content on a regular basis, probably by blogging.
- Use social media to promote the great content at your website.
You can also find plenty of free advice here on this website.
But the steps listed above have gotten great results for plenty of websites, and they’ll work for you as well. You can do it and see those results, or just think about it and not see those results.
Web traffic as a metric
Using web traffic as a marketing metric is a good idea for just about every website. Make sure you’re tracking the right visitors, and watch for improvements on a monthly or quarterly basis. The screenshot below (again, from our lab site) shows what you want to see.
There are plenty of variations in traffic from website to website and from month to month, but a line going up is the main thing to watch for.
If that’s not what you’re seeing, then you need a change in strategy.