We all love it when people visit our websites. That’s why we created those sites in the first place right? But most of us are satisfied to just know that we’re getting some traffic. Where it comes from doesn’t really matter…or does it?
Does It Matter Where Web Traffic Comes From and Do You Really Need to Know?
Actually, yes and yes. It really does matter. In fact, it matters for several reasons:
- Not all traffic is equal. People coming from the search engines searching for what you offer are much more likely to come visit your church or purchase your products than people who click on a shared article on Facebook. Take this article for example. OurChurch.Com offers website hosting, design, and marketing. Would someone who clicks on a post in Facebook for this article be as likely to purchase website services from us as someone who is searching for “great Christian web hosting”? Nope. So, it’s good to know where your traffic is coming from so you know if that increase is traffic will translate to an increase in conversions.
- Not all people are the same. Certain sources of traffic may be much more likely to bring certain types of people and you may want to show different people different parts of your website. For example, let’s say a church has an Adwords campaign for an upcoming event. They would want to take people who come from that campaign directly to information about the event as opposed to a section of the site for children’s ministry.
- You may want to thank people. If someone adds a link to their website that directs people to your site and that starts bringing you lots of traffic. It’s a good idea to thank that person and maintain a good relationship with them.
- It tells you what’s working. Most webmasters don’t track where their traffic comes from and so they just do what they think will bring more traffic to their site, but never know how well it’s working. They may do some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Adwords and social media posting and get some traffic and figure they need to keep doing all three, but in reality, they may be getting almost all the new traffic from SEO and nothing from the others. They would keep spending money and time month after month on ineffective Adwords and social media instead of either just doing SEO or working on the Adwords and social media until they become more effective.
- It tells you where to focus your efforts. Different sources of traffic will require different amounts of effort and resources to get traffic. You may find that spending an hour optimizing your website for the search engines brings in 10 times as many people as spending that hour writing a blog post. Or you may find that spending $100 on Facebook ads brings more traffic than spending $100 on Adwords. By knowing which is more effective.
How Do I Find Out Where My Traffic Is Coming From?
Finding out where your traffic is coming from requires an analytics program. There are several options out there that offer different features and different information.
- Server Log Analytics – Depending on your web hosting package, you may have access to a server log analytics program like AWstats. These can provide some helpful information; however, I’ve found that the raw data they give is harder to analyze and more difficult to use. I don’t really recommend using server log analytics except for looking for very specific information.
- On-Site Data Analytics – These are programs/services that use code on your site to track visitors. The most widely used on-site analytics option is Google Analytics due to it’s robust features, ease of use, and low price (free). This is a very good option for most people. It’s pretty easy to add the tracking code to your site and then viewing the tracking data is pretty intuitive. There are also more complex and insightful features for more advanced users.
- On-Site Visitor Behavior Analytics – These programs also have a tracking code you install on your site, but instead of just dealing with figures and charts, these options allow you to watch visitors as they go through your site. They can show you heat maps and other behavioral information so you can see not only how many people come to your site and where they came from, but also how they interact with the various parts of your website. These can be very helpful for figuring out what parts of your site are working well and which aren’t and how to improve user experience. Some examples of these are ClickTale, SessionCam, and Clicky.
If you just want information about how much website traffic you are getting and where it is coming from, then I recommend Google Analytics. If you want to work on improving the user experience and conversion rates of your website, then I recommend ClickTale, SessionCam, or Clicky (Note: I don’t have as much experience with these so I don’t have a specific one to recommend).
Tracking where your traffic is coming from and even what the visitors are doing once on your site can not only help your website to get more traffic and conversions, but can help you to save time and money in the process. So, don’t wait. Go ahead and set it up today.
Share Your Thoughts:
- Do you use an analytics program? If so, which do you use?
- What information do you like to look for in your analytics?
- How does knowing where your traffic is coming from help you?