A good business website does two things: it generates traffic (and conversion) and it creates (and maintains) customers. If your website is getting tons of hits every month, that has to be good, right? Not always. Look deeper into the analytics of web traffic and you’ll discover a number of sources for web traffic. As a marketer, what kinds of traffic should you be looking for? Is one kind better than another? Let’s take a look.
What Kinds of Web Traffic Are There?
Direct Traffic: Digital visitors to your site typed in the URL directly, clicked via a bookmark, or clicked a link in an email from the business in question. Direct traffic also refers to visitors who access a mobile version of your site through specially programmed mobile apps. The key advantage to direct traffic is awareness. Lots of direct traffic means a fundamental awareness of your business.
Referral Traffic: Just like referral customers, referral traffic refers to visitors to your site who were directed via a referral link-such as one on other websites, social media, or banner ads. Importantly, referral traffic can be either paid (banner ads) or unpaid (PR articles). Solid referral traffic probably means your business has a solid referral network.
Search Traffic: Over 93% of online experiences start with a visit to a search engine. When an online user clicks a result on a search engine results page (SERP), it’s either paid or unpaid. Where your site ranks in terms of SERP depends on a variety of factors, including SEO, site content, and much, much more. High search traffic volume means your SEO is on-point.
What Kind of Traffic Do You Want?
What web traffic is most important to your business depends on where your business stands in the AIDA marketing model. The four stages (awareness, interest, desire, and action) all correspond to steps in the customer decision making process-steps that are facilitated by efficient marketing strategy. While a newer startup might be more interested in search traffic, an established business may be more interested in dominating organic search traffic.
In any case, the ultimate goal of your website is to funnel customers through the interest and desire stages into the action stage. The different kinds of traffic are more and less valuable depending on where the customer is in the decision-making stage. Organic search visitors are probably past the desire stage, while direct visitors may be past the awareness stage, but unwilling to go further.
These days, generating a significant volume of traffic, whether it’s direct, referral, or search, only matters if the site is also generating a corresponding amount of conversions. Marketers have the important decision, therefore, to determine whether to tweak your strategy to focus on increasing awareness, conversion, or revenue per conversion.
In a nutshell, your website exists to foster and nurture your customer relationships. Think about the action you want people to take when they visit your website. Would a customer be most likely to take that action if he or she visited directly, via a link from another site, or via a search engine results page?
Why It’s Important to Monitor Web Traffic
Monitoring traffic can help discern your overall strategy. In other words, by looking at trends, you can determine what to do next. For paid ads especially, monitoring traffic helps determine if the ads are worth it. If your banner ads or paid search engine ads aren’t generating your desired number of clicks or conversions, it might be time to either rethink your strategy or create more compelling content. Similarly, if your site doesn’t perform for the most important keywords, it’s time to put in some SEO work. If your site isn’t generating the desired revenue, you could focus on increasing the value of each conversion.
Website traffic can also be a helpful indicator on where a business stands in the marketplace. As mentioned, a website with more direct traffic probably belongs to a more ubiquitous business. On the other hand, a website with a high volume of organic search traffic probably has a solid SEO strategy. Keeping tabs on your web traffic will lead to insights on what consumers think of your website, how they’re interacting, and even most importantly, what improvements to make to optimize your overall digital strategy.
Overall, if you’re not keeping tabs on your website performance, you might as well not even have a website. As such, in order to remain competitive, you have to be constantly making improvements to your website based on changing customer needs. The kind of web traffic that is most important to your business today may not be the most important tomorrow. Ultimately, you should strive for a healthy balance across direct, referral, and search traffic.