Insightful analysis of your web traffic will help your search optimization efforts. But, don’t get bogged down with a multitude of stats. Pay attention to key metrics and, very importantly, take action based on your analysis.
Presumably, you have a statistical analysis package for your website or have loaded the script for Google Analytics. You can’t make improvements without knowing about the traffic coming to your site and what they do once they arrive.
Key metrics include:
- Direct traffic: This is traffic arriving at your site by typing in your URL. Some analytics include bookmarks in this data and others show it separately. No matter, this visitor arrived directly without using a search engine or external link to get to your site. For the most part, these are not new visitors. If, however, your data shows you are getting new visitors as a result of direct traffic, then it means you are doing a good job branding your site offline. If your URL is easy to remember or is publicized through offline advertising, visitors will type in the address directly, having circumvented search engines.
- Referral traffic: This is traffic reaching your site from an external link on another site. Your data should show what link was used to arrive. Using this information, you’ll determine what’s working and what’s not and can adjust your search engine optimization strategy accordingly. Pay attention to bounce rates from these links as well. Do visitors come and stay for a while or realize they made a mistake and leave right away? If the bounce rate is high for some links, you may need to fine tune your external linking strategy.
- Organic traffic: This is the traffic people go crazy over trying to be the number one listing on Google or other search engines. Anyone arriving at your site based on search engine results will show up here and, depending on your analytics tool may include sponsored links. Ideally, organic and sponsored links should be measured separately so you can better assess the value you’re getting from paid links. A good analytics package will tell you what keywords were used to drive the visitor to your site. Use the keyword to revise your web content for even greater optimization. Keyword data the language your visitors speak to tell you how (and possibly why) they arrived at your site. Listen to them carefully and take action.
- Paid traffic: This is traffic generated from your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. For effective analysis, this data must show up separately from the other traffic types. With this data, you’ll measure the effectiveness of your paid efforts, make budgetary decisions and find problem areas to improve. While click-through rate is important, when it comes to PPC traffic, you want as high a conversion rate as possible to make the expenditure pay off.
Don’t be fooled by the hundreds of vendors offering web analytics tools. Decide what metrics are important for you to measure and then go shopping for the best package to deliver the data you need in an easy-to-understand format.