How to Look at Traffic Sources for your Web Site

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about basic web analytics, and stats you should be pulling on a regular basis to better understand how your site is used.

Understanding sources of web traffic can help you work more efficiently.
Traffic. From Flickr user Zoonabar.
The most important stats to track for my clients are those regarding web site traffic sources. Where is site traffic coming from, and what does it do once it gets there?


There are several kinds of traffic you'll see on your stats, including the following:

  • Organic (unpaid, regular) search
  • Paid search
  • Online ads
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other)
  • Email
  • Direct (people type your URL into their browser or they have it bookmarked)
  • Referring Sites (any other web site that refers traffic to you)


First, it's critical that you understand what portion of your site traffic is coming from each source type.
  • It's essential to know whether most of your traffic comes from outreach like social or email, or customers reaching out to you through channels like search.
  • It's also good to know what sites are referring traffic to you. Finding out which blogs, etc. are linking to you and developing those relationships could bring you a lot more traffic down the road. 

It's just as important to understand a few things about the behavior of traffic from each source. 

  • Does one of your sources have a particularly high bounce rate (rate of one-page visits), for example? Say you find that the bounce rate from your ad traffic is far higher than for other channels. You might want to develop a special landing page for people who click on ads that better introduces your site and what you have to offer.
  • Is one of your sources responsible for most of the conversion behavior on your site? If it turns out that people who reach you from email or social media convert far better than other kinds of traffic, then your goal should be to get new visitors to sign up for email and join you on Facebook or Twitter before doing anything else.
How are you using web analytics to grow site traffic and conversions? Let me know or drop me a line if you want to talk about it. 


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