After doing some thinking, you realize WordPress’ plugin Jetpack may not be enough for your site. You need more relevant data. Whether you are on WordPress or using another CMS, you may be interested in understanding your visitor’s behavior: why do they visit your site and why do they leave so quickly? You decide to go ahead and install what you are told everybody is using: Google Analytics.
Although it seems tricky at first, with a little bit of practice, you will come to understand how easy it is to interpret basic reports and visitors conversion. Understanding the difference between organic, direct and referral traffic is a crucial first step to start analyzing your data. Let’s see what they represent and how you can increase your traffic sources.
Organic, direct, referral traffic: know the differences
If it’s your first time with Google Analytics, you will notice there are several sources of traffic. But what do they mean? Which one is better? Let’s start by learning the differences.
Organic traffic represents people who visited your site after finding you “organically” – that is, after googling a query suggesting your site on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Here’s an example:
An online store selling that sells shoes gets an organic visit from somebody who found the website by googling specific keywords “sneakers” or “blue sandals size 11” for instance.
Direct traffic means a user accessed your site directly from their browser using a URL. It may be from bookmark or by typing it directly in the search bar. If a user saw a pair of shoes they liked on your site and bookmarked it for later use, it will be counted by Google Analytics as a direct visit.
As its name suggests, referral traffic represents users coming from a source referring your site. Let’s say you have a special promotion on your online shoe store. A fashion blogger learns about it and decide to write about it, adding a link to your special promotion. This link is seen as a referral as the visitors have been referred to your site by the blog post.
So what’s the best source of traffic that you should target for your site?
Now that you already know the differences between the three main sources of traffic, you may wonder which one should you focus on and try to increase on Google Analytics.
First, you should know that all three of them are good indicators that tell how your site is doing. If you are having many visitors coming organically, it’s a sign that your site is ranked well on search engines.
Direct traffic also has its benefits. Having your site bookmarked means your content is interesting enough to be remembered, read and shared with others. Giving away a URL to a peer is always a sign the link is worthy of being visited and that your work is recognized.
Direct traffic is considered as highly qualified, as users know the site they are about to visit is the one they are intentionally looking for. This increased recognition often leads to increased loyalty.
Referral traffic also shows sign of recognition, as your content is seen by others as valuable to be worth of being shared on the web. Referral traffic also improves your ranking on Google and is also known as the healthiest SEO technique to earn links.
SEO consultants often jokingly say the best place to hide a body is the page 2 of Google search results and this actually means that nobody clicks on results that are not on page 1.
How can I increase my Google Analytics traffic sources?
An easy answer to that question could be: by having a stronger online presence. It sounds easy to say, but yet, it can be quite hard to achieve. To help you increase your traffic, you need to put yourself out there. This boost can be done by running an online marketing campaign.
Online marketing has many benefits, such as lowering acquisition costs and diversifying your traffic sources by reaching out to the target audience that matches your site.
Online marketing campaign does not mean advertising. Instead, it’s about promoting and marketing your product and generating traffic through user’ engagement.
The issue with traditional advertising is that you depend on running ads. When the campaign is over or when you have already reached your budget limit, your incoming traffic suddenly stops.
On the other hand, by promoting your business through an online marketing campaign, you are able to work with different tools so you can drive traffic in a more perennial way.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), content marketing and social media tools help drive non-stop traffic or at least, promote your brand for a longer time than a banner ad that vanishes after 2 weeks.
By promoting your product or service in a natural way, instead of advertising them traditionally, you will be able to drive organic and diversified traffic from blogs, optimized search engine results and from social media.