Not in Analytics?

We’re finally getting through all the year-end analytics reports, and most of them have been fairly predictable: increased traffic, increased engagement, seasonal patterns, a few interesting questions… Then we came upon a client whose organic search traffic had nearly doubled in one quarter. This is not a brand new website with traffic doubling from 10 visits to 20. This is a long-established site. We did a redesign for them last spring, and they were seeing that nice steady increase in organic traffic and then, several months after the most recent major change to the website — boom!

That’s good news, of course, so we weren’t scrambling to try to solve a problem. But we did want to figure out what happened so we could do some more of it.

We checked a lot of different things in Google Analytics, and then finally I had to say it:

After all, increases (or decreases — just replace the word “more” with “less”) in organic search traffic can have three causes:

  • Search engines are showing you to searchers more often.
  • People are clicking through to your site more often.
  • People are searching for your goods and services more often.

In our work, we usually focus on the first two. We work to make websites more findable, more trustworthy, and more valuable in the view of search engines and of people. But the third option can also happen. Sometimes we can see that online. Newsworthy events increase searches for related terms and we jump on that. New regulations require people to use your products or services. Trends in your industry bring make people search more for what you have to offer, and since we’ve been getting your website ready, you’re the one they find.

But sometimes we can’t see what happened.

Was the client on a radio show that made people aware of the product? Has there been advertising in legacy media that we haven’t been told about? Did the company sponsor a physical-world event?

If you’re looking in your own analytics and seeing something like this, check back through your calendar and see what events might have taken place around the time of the change in your analytics. If possible, repeat the events and see whether the change in traffic is replicated.

And annotate your analytics whenever you have an event that could affect your website. We like to work as strategic partners for our clients, so that we will know about these events and can support them and leverage them to provide the most value in their online presence. So let your web firm in on events, even if you don’t see a connection with your online presence.

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