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Website Traffic: It’s in the Analytics


Jan 0001
JUSTINE MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com


Mar. 1, 2017 —

Website Traffic

There are hundreds of millions of websites out there, and it sometimes seems there are just as many different ways for people to discover them. And by “people” we mean the more than 3.5 billion people worldwide — about half the world’s population — who are active internet users. So how do customers find their way to your site? It’s important for businesses with an online presence to understand the whys and wherefores of searches and other paths to their online door, as it can support ongoing activities and future success.

A number of avenues and platforms exist to help direct internet users to specific websites. A study by BrightEdge, a content marketing firm based in California, found that about 50 percent of website traffic for B2B and B2C companies is derived from “organic search” — simply put, this is when people find you through a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. Chicago-based MAXDigital, a developer of cloud-based digital marketing and retailing software, notes that organic traffic typically comes from two sources: those who searched a company’s name specifically, “which means they were familiar with [the] brand,” or those who searched a term that relates to a specific company, which indicates a “strong search engine optimization performance for that term.”

According to IT Business Edge, a news and information network for the information technology industry, these are among several main types of web traffic.

Another is “direct traffic” — that which has not come from a source-referring website, such as in an organic search. This traffic is by those who type the company’s website URL directly into the address bar in a web browser or who have bookmarked the company’s website URL. Typically, such visitors are people who are already aware of the company, notes U.K. integrated marketing firm and website developer Cognique. This could be the result of seeing the company’s name and/or products in an advertisement or by word of mouth.

There are instances when some of the traffic’s origin can’t be determined; using an app or a referral code to reach a website can cause this uncertainty.

A company’s own advertising and marketing campaigns serve to originate website traffic, too. Known as “paid search/display traffic,” The Mayoros Agency, a South Carolina-based advertising agency that specializes in internet marketing and web design, says this encompasses all online paid advertising campaigns — display and pay-per-click ads, as well as search engine-centered campaigns such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

— To attract followers, be engaging and share more information.—

Social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others — can drive website traffic, reaching existing and potential customers and clients from around the world. The more information you share and the more engaging you are, the more followers you will attract. And this will lead to “referral traffic,” which originates from not only word of mouth, but also from people clicking on a company’s link that’s on another website.

Banner advertising can also drive traffic. According to iBec Creative, a Maine-based developer of websites, apps and digital marketing programs, advertising your company on other websites serves to drive high-quality, targeted traffic to yours. Specifically, creating a branded banner ad is a good route to take. To be most effective, Traffic Masters — a web traffic provider in the U.K. that also assists with geographical and contextual website targeting — suggests choosing other websites within a similar niche to your own. For instance, Photonics Media’s photonics.com site consistently features banner ads by companies within the photonics industry.

Getting to know the analytics

Gathering statistics on your website’s traffic is a key component in its success. International website developer Yola has found that “website analytics provide you with extremely helpful data, which if interpreted correctly and acted upon, could mean great improvements to the performance of your website.”

The analytics can gauge the effectiveness of a website’s content and promotion techniques, helping a company to determine if the traffic matches its principal audience. Based on this, they can adjust their approach to suit customers’ needs. Obtaining and examining the statistics can also assist in maintenance of the website. Yola notes that if traffic from a specific source (that has typically been consistent) stops, there may be an issue with the link that refers visitors to the website. Or, if there is “100 percent drop off in a customer path,” the web page could be down.

A number of website metrics services now exist, including Google Analytics and Alexa Internet. Services such as these provide statistics on organic search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic and ad campaigns, in addition to social media, referrals and email promotions. According to Cognique, there should be “a good balance of traffic from different places, so that if one traffic source were to disappear … then you would still have a steady flow of traffic from other sources.”

Analytics also provide information on existing and new visits/sessions, bounce rate (the percentage of visits to a single page before leaving) and visit duration, as well as ecommerce conversion rates, the number of transactions, and sales revenue.

Strategy

So you’ve gathered the analytics for your website — now what do you do with it? Examining the metrics is important, and so is using that data to enhance visitors’ experience and cater to their needs. Experts suggest that before delving into the data, it can be helpful to determine the goals of the website. That way, you will know what metrics matter to you, according to Yola, and exactly where you should be investing your time and marketing efforts.

It is equally important to pay attention to the areas of a website that may appear floundering among the metrics. A cluttered website could be at least partly to blame, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a global content marketing organization that offers education and training. There may be pages or sections of the website that visitors are not viewing; is this because the information is no longer relevant or useful? Or perhaps it is simply buried among other things on the page.

CMI suggests that “once a quarter, move to the bottom of the page view list [analytics] and see what you might be able to lose. You won’t regret it and it will make the rest of your data more meaningful.” Some have found that checking this data frequently can help in keeping a website’s content fresh and relevant for visitors, while others, such as Pole Position Marketing — an Ohio firm that offers digital marketing and web presence optimization services — make it a point to look at website analytics monthly. This allows them to “easily see how things change month to month. This makes it easier for us to see what is working and see trends over time.”

So use the website analytics to your advantage. “Uncover what works based on meaningful measures such as page views, time on page, and conversion, and create more of it,” said Barry Feldman, founder of California-based online marketing strategists Feldman Creative. “‘More’ may mean more content on that topic, more of a form or style, more from the content creator, and so on. Essentially, I’m saying double down on your winners.”


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