Website Analytics Explained Part Two: Direct, Organic & Referral Traffic

Website Analytics Explained Part Two: Direct, Organic & Referral Traffic

April 23rd, 2015

Hello again! Thank you for stopping in as we continue our educational process regarding the demystification of all those pesky website analytic terms.

I hope you’re finding this series informative, easy to understand and helpful! I can’t stress how important it is that every business owner, from home builders to non-profit organizations, understand exactly how their website is actually performing.

All too often as I’m reviewing a client’s website analytics with them, either on the phone or in person, they seem to zone out. It’s kind of like when your wife asks you to take the garbage out—you heard her, but you just kind of choose not to acknowledge the request, at least right at that moment. Don’t get me wrong, I get it; someone trying to explain website analytics can be about as entertaining as watching paint dry, but I think it’s only because the audience doesn’t quite understand the terms used.

The more you “get” what your analytics are dying to tell you, the faster you will be able to improve website traffic, ideally leading to more sales. Makes sense, wouldn’t you agree? With all that behind us, let’s get into this week’s topic involving direct, organic and referral traffic.

How are people actually finding your website?  No, this isn’t going to be another article on the importance of Search Engine Optimization, as you already know how vital that tool is. Instead, I want to discuss how people end up on your site. This information is very important, as it allows you to truly understand where your audience originates.

What Is Meant By “Direct Traffic”?

Let’s talk about the most obvious type of viewers that arrive on your site—direct traffic.

When someone types your main URL into the address bar, then hits enter, they will be greeted by your home page. Perhaps they saw your website advertised on television or in print—awesome— this means marketing your website is working! We will discuss the difference between new visitors and returning visitors in a later entry, but it’s important to provide a brief shout out to these two types of guests:  An increase in new visitors relates to your marketing efforts as well as word of mouth; an uptick in returning visitors equates to an audience that is engaged with your brand. Confused? It’s ok, as I said, we will get down in the weeds with this topic in the next entry.

What Does The Term “Organic Traffic” Really Mean?

Organic traffic arriving on your site is usually much more common than direct traffic. As a brian flook, builder marketingsavvy business owner, you already understand when someone enters a search into Google, they will be presented with relevant matches. This is where the majority of website traffic comes from, if, and only if, your website is Search Engine Optimized. Search engines are frequently crawling and indexing the content on your website in order to provide seekers with the most relevant, up to date and popular information.

This might be a good time to mention Pay Per Click (PPC). This method is utilized to get your website listed at the top of search engine results, but at a cost.  When someone clicks on your advertised link, you will be charged a fee—actually ‘paying per click’. Traffic driven to your site via a PPC campaign will also be noted in your analytics; however, you have to keep in mind, that traffic comes at a price.

It’s been my experience that there is a time and place for PPC, depending on your specific goals; however, grooming your website to appear in organic search results can produce more consistent results without paying per click.

Rest assured, we will dig into the differences between PPC and organic results based on SEO, and which strategy is best for your specific need in a future post, so keep checking back for that! Now, let’s get into a discussion about Referral Traffic.

What Is Referral Traffic?

Referral traffic simply means your audience came to your website from an outside source, not a search engine and certainly not a PPC ad.  What does this mean? Perhaps you placed a link to a specific page on your website in a social media post—any click on that link is considered a referral. Maybe someone wrote a blog and mentioned your business in the content, placing a hyperlink to your site. Anyone reading that blog may want to learn more about the subject being discussed compelling them to click on that link, showing up your site—Bang—referral traffic!

There you have it—a simple explanation of what those previously confusing traffic terms actually mean!  Next go around we’ll define and discuss the differences between New Visitors and Returning Visitors as well as Page Views.

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