Traffic, or website visitors, is the lifeblood of any business, but not all traffic is the same. You’ve got to know your traffic to know where your business is coming from.
Everything else comes secondary. Engagement, conversions, page views, likes, shares – none of it matters if you don’t have traffic. Every website in the world wants traffic and the attention span of Internet visitors is very short because people are selective about where they spend their time online.
Driving traffic to your website can be overwhelming. Far too many businesses put up a website assuming or hoping the traffic will just show up. That’s not how it works. It takes work – consistent, strategy work.
Putting an e-commerce store online is much like building a physical store. If you build a store in the desert, no one will come. You have to build a road to your store and maybe put a McDonald’s next door and give people a reason to visit. Constructing the store is no guarantee anyone will take a step inside. Making a website is the easy part. Getting people to care enough to visit once, then come back, is where the work starts.
Know your Traffic Sources
There are many different sources of traffic and the more diverse the sources, the better off you’ll be. If you depend on Google for all your traffic, you’re subjected to their whims. Just ask any business hit by the Penguin update what I’m talking about. Likewise, for Facebook and other social media platforms.
Building your business on Facebook and relying on it for most of your traffic, is only building on shaky ground. Again, just ask all the businesses who spent money getting “likes” to their page, only to then find out they had to pay for most of those same people to see their content.
Have a Traffic Strategy
The smart strategy is to build traffic from several different sources.
Having a traffic strategy is one of the most important things you can do for your business, so we’ll outline some steps to help you put that strategy together, so you’re not beholden to Google or anyone else and you can grow your traffic in a consistent and controlled way.
The 4 Parts of Traffic
In this series, we’ll break down traffic generation in 4 parts and go through them one at a time, in great detail:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Content Marketing, Social Media and Paid Advertising.
How Traffic Differs
Let’s first talk about traffic quality. Not all traffic is the same. The objective is to generate targeted, quality traffic. Not just any old kind of visitors.
The better the traffic is, the higher the conversions and ROI. In other words, not all traffic is created equal.
If you’re a local dentist in Miami, Florida, for example, getting lots of traffic from Europe isn’t going to do you any good. Even if it’s millions of visitors a day. No one in Europe is going to fly to Miami so you can pull their teeth, no matter how good at it you are (besides, their insurance is probably better).
Maybe a less obscure and more practical example: we’ve seen that traffic from Twitter is less engaged than people who are referred from high authority websites. One way to analyze the quality of your traffic is to look at a few metrics in Google analytics: go to Acquisition –> All Traffic –> Channels and you’ll get a graph that looks something like this:
Let’s look at a few things. First, the Bounce Rate, which is the percentage of single page visits. The lower the bounce rate, the more interested and engaged the visitor is.
The average varies by industry, but “good” is between 30-60% and anything below that is even better. So in this example, you see the best is “Email” traffic, which makes sense because people who come from the website owner’s email list are visits who are highly engaged. Referral traffic tends to be great because only sites that like what you do or are in a related industry are likely to refer to you by linking to your site. In this example, the bounce rate is high, which means the sites referring traffic are likely not a good fit.
Pages / Session and Average Session Duration
Secondly, look at “Pages / Session” and “Average Session Duration.” The longer people stay on your site and view pages, the more interested they are, so that’s good traffic. A good average duration is about 3 minutes, while average Pages per Session is about 4. More than that and you’ve got some good traffic. In this example, you see that the social traffic isn’t as good, mostly because it’s the coldest kind of traffic.
Focus On Engagement to Get Qualified Traffic
Traffic sources can vary greatly, largely due to the amount of engagement the visitor has before coming to the website. As we mentioned above, traffic from your email list is usually high quality traffic because they’re interested in your content. That’s why they subscribe to your email list. When you send them an email with links to content you know they’re already interested in, they’re pre-qualified since they’ve already opted in. They’re already very warm traffic.
Social traffic can be hot or cold depending on how much you engage with the person on social. If you have a lot of Twitter followers or don’t regularly engage with them, but just post content, those people who click on the content you share aren’t going to be as warm as those who you’ve tweeted with or sent a DM to (direct message).
Engaging with people and building a real relationships will increase the quality of each visitor, so endeavor to actually talk with people on social as much as possible. After all, it’s called social media for a reason.
Know Your Referral Traffic
Referral traffic comes from another website by way of links or mentions, so there’s not much you can do to warm it up if someone else is doing the sending. However, good referral traffic can be warm if you’re guest posting on another website or a guest on a podcast and your site is linked in the show notes page. When people can read your words firsthand or hear your voice, they feel more engaged with you and are not only more likely to visit your site, they’re more likely to be more interested once they get there.
Targeted traffic is good traffic. Overall volume of traffic doesn’t matter if it’s all junk. That’s why it’s so stupid to buy traffic or followers on social. They don’t do anything for you. You want real people who are interested in what you have to say and the product you’re selling.
There are a lot of ways to ensure your traffic is targeted. One of the easiest ways to target traffic is with paid ads. Using Facebook Ads you can select the exact demographics and psychographics of the people you want to target. If you only want females, around age 40, in your city, you can do that. You can also target with Twitter and other platforms.
Focus on getting the right kind of targeted, qualified traffic and not on vanity metrics that just look good. What truly matters to the financial health of your business is visitors who are engaged and convert to sales.
Don’t rely just on one source of traffic or you’re exposed to risk and whims of your traffic sources.
Use many different sources of traffic, many of which compliment each other. This can include SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media and Paid Advertising, but there are many more.
Knowing where your traffic comes from and which segment converts best can help you focus your attention on your best traffic so you can get more of it.