Your website’s traffic is the starting point for web analytics reports, and of course everyone is happy to hear about their increases in traffic. Me, too. But up and down isn’t all you can say about web traffic. Ask yourself a few more questions while you’re thinking about web traffic, and you’ll get more out of your reports.
- Is it business, or is it just traffic?
One of our clients saw an increase of 370.95% year over year. But he only serves local clients, and his local traffic increased by a (comparatively) mere 44%. That extra traffic is fine — there can even be side benefits, such as a general increase in web visibility and prestige that could increase conversions — but his basic traffic info suggests a higher level of success than we’re really seeing. The 44% increase is the number he should be looking at.
Configure your analytics to make it easy to distinguish between serious traffic and casual visitors. Make sure your website is set up to capture signs of intent to buy. Create mini conversion moments that give you data about visitors and their intentions. That way you won’t be stuck with a website that’s doing great and a business that isn’t.
- Are you seeing the trends?
Organic growth takes time. But a general upward trend means that you’re making progress. The average unmanaged website sees little or no growth; traffic stays pretty flat. The graphs below show long-term traffic growth at three different websites. While the shape of the curve is different in each case and there are some ups and downs, over time we can see satisfying growth.
Don’t get too caught up in the raw numbers. You can probably see a point for each website where they might have gotten discouraged and decided that online marketing just doesn’t work. If they’d changed direction at that point, they’d have had all the struggle and none of the victory.
Instead, identify the trends and follow the basic rule: Do more of what works.
- Have you broken it down?
Here’s the chart showing traffic to our website here at HadenInteractive.com
Organic search brings us most of our traffic — 72.9%. Not surprising for a company focused on SEO. Direct traffic to our website makes up another 13.6%. Then come referrals and social media traffic and a little sliver of email marketing.
We can see the areas of opportunity. If we put more resources into the lower-performing channels, we would still expect them to bring less traffic than search, but we could see stronger overall traffic increases.
If organic search isn’t the largest piece of your pie, you need to improve your website and strengthen your online presence. This is the traffic source that keeps working over time, the one with the highest ROI and the best results over time.
Need more basic info about website traffic? Here are some posts you might find helpful:
- Understanding Traffic Sources
- Falling Web Traffic
- Traffic Metrics and Business Websites
- How Do You Get Traffic to Your New Website?