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Website traffic: how to grow it and how to measure it in 2021

Website traffic: how to grow it and how to measure it in 2021

Traffic on a website: how do you grow and measure it once you’ve chosen the right domain name, have a good structure, the design is right, and you’ve already uploaded your first products? What’s left for you to do to start selling?

We answer all your questions in the lines below. Are you ready?

Just like a physical, brick & mortar store, a website that isn’t visited is dead. No visits:

  • An online store doesn’t sell and a brand doesn’t grow.
  • People won’t book your services (if you have, for example, a dental practice).
  • You won’t generate revenue from AdSense (Google’s advertising app where website owners can sign up for the program and display text, image or video ads on their personal websites) if your business model is monetizing content and website traffic.

There are several traffic sources you can use, each with advantages and disadvantages. And not all types of traffic will be equally good for your goals. But in order to sustainably increase traffic to your site and make sure you get the visits you need, you need to know how to properly measure the volume and quality of each traffic source.

That’s exactly what we explain in this article: how to measure and bring quality traffic to your website. Shall we get started?

How do you measure traffic on a website?

The vast majority of visits will come from people: users who are looking for a product/service you offer and come to your site.

But there is also a minority of visits made by bots, i.e. non-human, automated visits that come to perform certain actions on your site.

For example, a Google bot will come to read and index the pages of your website and then display them when someone searches. The good news is that Google Analytics automatically filters traffic coming from bots.

There are several ways to measure the number of visits to a site, the sources from which they come and their quality. Some sites still use plugins that display the number of hits to a page, such as Stat Counter. This is more of a vanity metric, i.e. a metric that, apart from stroking your ego, doesn’t help you with anything else.

The number of page views tells you nothing about who is visiting you and what they are actually doing on your site, nor how much and how profitably you are selling. Other domains use advanced tracking solutions, such as Adobe Analytics, but these are harder to install and quite expensive.

The easiest way to measure the traffic coming to your site and its quality is to install a tracking solution. Our recommendation is to use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the most popular and easiest to install solution to measure a website’s traffic.

Plus, it has the advantage of being compatible with other Google platforms (Google Ads, Google Data Studio, etc.) and it’s free. It’s important to not only install Google Analytics but also to define conversion events and set up e-commerce tracking correctly so that you know exactly what value each channel brings you.

What are the main traffic sources you can use? We’ve seen why you need traffic and how to measure it. We’ve left the best for last: how to bring quality traffic to your site. The main sources that can bring you visits and conversions are:

  • Organic Traffic
  • Paid Traffic
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Referral and affiliate
  • Direct Traffic

How to measure traffic on a website
Let’s take each one individually and see how we can use them for what we care about: more traffic and more sales:

Organic Traffic or so-called SEO

We’re talking about people doing a Google search. Google displays your site in the organic results (i.e. without you paying for it) and the user clicks through to your site.

Among the advantages of this traffic is that it is “free”. I put it in quotation marks because, ok, you don’t pay for every click that lands on your site, but there is still a cost: doing SEO optimization, creating quality content, maybe even getting good backlinks. Another advantage to keep in mind is that this type of traffic often performs very well: low bounce rate, high conversion rate.

A disadvantage is that traffic and results don’t come immediately. If your domain is competitive you might need months of work without direct results. If you need to sell fast and your online store is new you can’t rely on this traffic channel.

Paid Traffic

Here we are talking about paid campaigns through Google or Facebook Ads. You create the ad, pay the money and the visits start coming. But the visits are not free because you pay for every click you get.

The advantages of this channel are that, done correctly, campaigns bring conversions and sales in a short time and there are no high barriers to entry. Yesterday you set up your online shop, today you start campaigning and can record your first conversions. Whereas with organic traffic, it takes optimization work to bring in enough traffic to get conversions.

The main disadvantage is the cost. All visits are paid. If you run out of budget the campaigns stop and you have no visits and no conversions. In addition, the trend in the market is for the cost per click to increase.

Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, Tik-tok, few people don’t use at least one social network. If people use a social network, it means there is also an opportunity to generate traffic for your domain. Social networks can help you create a strong brand and build a loyal community around it. Also, compared to other traffic channels, here you can also communicate directly with visitors. For example, some companies use their Facebook page to answer questions from potential customers.

But there are products/services that you cannot promote effectively on Social Media. If you sell industrial equipment, a campaign on Tik Tok may not work, because the purchasing managers of the companies that can buy your products are probably not watching challenge videos on Tik Tok, but are on site to see the product requirements.

E-mail 

The email is kind of like Jon Snow from Game of Thrones: there was so much talk for so long that he was going to die, then that he died, that it was over with, when in fact there was no such thing. Despite the negative predictions of many who say email marketing is dead, in fact emailing is as healthy and vibrant as ever. And it’s a channel that can yield great results provided you build a quality email address base and send well-constructed newsletters. Not infrequently this channel’s conversion rate is the best of all you can call on.

But not all is rosy here either. The main difficulty lies in building the address database. This can take months and may be time you don’t have. In addition, since GDPR the rules are much stricter, you can’t, for example, rent other people’s email databases.

Referral or affiliate traffic

The principle is simple: another site sends traffic to your domain. If it does so organically, without any agreement between you or payment, then that traffic is called a referral. If you pay something and have a formal agreement with that site, the visits from there will go into the affiliate category. Of course, no one is stopping you from moving a site from the first to the second category.

One advantage of this type of traffic is that you generally only pay for what you actually care about, which is conversions. The more conversions you get, the more the cost of this channel will increase, but this is a good thing because you are also profitably increasing your turnover.

But it’s not easy to find good affiliate partners and they may ask for discounts or exclusive offers to promote you. All this can eat into your margin.

Direct traffic

I left direct traffic behind because it is a result of the efforts you make to increase traffic on other channels and create awareness in the market. Direct traffic comes when people have already visited your domain, memorized it and were interested enough to come back for another visit. You can’t have direct traffic if you don’t already have enough traffic from other channels and have not created positive interactions with your brand.

This source of traffic often comes with the advantage of a good conversion rate. If the person is motivated enough to come back for a second, third, etc. visit, they are more likely to be interested in what you offer and buy. It’s also why remarketing works better than first click campaigns.

But before you get to a good level of direct traffic you need to invest in your store’s notoriety and image, and already have enough traffic from other channels for people to get to know you.

Conclusions

So here are the main sources of traffic and how to make use of each. We’ll end the article with some practical tips to make sure you know how to build a strategy that will bring you quality, long-term traffic.

  1. It’s no good depending on one channel. If the vast majority of your traffic is organic and Google makes an algorithm update that penalizes you, the negative impact can be dramatic. Likewise: if you only run paid campaigns and run out of budget, the tap on visits and conversions turns off and your website will suffer. So it’s good to grow more channels that bring you quality traffic.
  2. Most likely you won’t be able to optimize your presence on all possible traffic channels. Each channel has its own specifics and, with limited time and human resources, you won’t be able to scale. That’s why you need to choose the ones that bring the best results and focus on them.
  3. Another principle to keep in mind is to be present wherever your potential customers are. If your target audience is present in large numbers on Tik Tok, go to Tik Tok. Your competition is probably already there, don’t let them run wild.
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