In part one of this series, we shared how to interpret the basic key metrics in Google Analytics. Now, let’s dive in further to explore some commonly asked questions about web traffic – like where it’s coming from and how it can inform your marketing strategy.

How do I see where my traffic is coming from?

To see where your traffic is coming from in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition, All Traffic and then Channels. When combing through the data you will see a variety of sources including paid search, organic, email, direct, referral, social, etc.

Some of this traffic is self-explanatory. For example, if you have a paid advertising campaign with a link back to your website, you would expect some of the traffic to be from paid search.

But it’s not all quite so easy to interpret. Below, I’ve broken down a few of the main sources you’ll see with an explanation of what they mean. Once you understand your traffic, you can move forward seamlessly with your marketing campaign.

Search/Organic – Search engine or organic traffic refers to the visits where a consumer found your website in a search engine. While this usually is Google, don’t forget about other key players like Bing and Yahoo. Fluctuations in your organic traffic could indicate you have lost search engine ranking and a review of your SEO practices may be in order.

Direct/None – Direct traffic is just what it sounds like — when someone visits your website directly without the assistance of social media, a search engine or a paid advertisement. Your visitor could have your website bookmarked or just remember the URL.

The part where it says “none” can be especially confusing.It doesn’t mean the traffic magically got to your website with no source; it simply means it came from a source that wasn’t trackable. This could be a PDF, an email or a shortened link. This Megalytics blog does a good job explaining this further.

Referral – Referral, or referring traffic, is when someone lands on your website by clicking on the link from another source. For instance, if you clicked any of the links in this blog, the site you went to would classify you as referral traffic.

Putting it all together

When reviewing traffic data, it’s important to check things like average time on page, bounce rate and conversions by traffic source – you could even look at something as detailed as keyword, geographic location or what device the user is on. Is your bounce rate on mobile twice as high as on a desktop? If so, you may need to further optimize your site’s mobile experience.

If one source of traffic is performing better than others, it makes sense to work on driving more traffic from that source. For instance, is the conversion rate from referral traffic much higher than other channels? Then you should try and reach out to similar blogs and media sources to link to your site. Is one keyword in your Google paid advertising campaign outperforming the others? It may make sense to allocate more money towards that keyword and less toward the others.

Now that you have a better understanding of the traffic sources in Google Analytics, take some time to review the analytics for your website to see where improvements could be made in your marketing campaign. If this still seems daunting, reach out to us – we’d love to help!

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