How Google Analytics Can Help Improve Your Web Traffic

Judy VedderSearch Engine Optimization

In our last post, we looked at why Google Analytics can be a useful tool to help monitor your web traffic. Now we’re going to examine how to use the analytics reports generated each month to increase traffic to your web site.

Determine Traffic Sources

Google Analytics breaks down your traffic sources into four categories: direct, referral, campaigns, and search.

  • Direct Traffic: those who find your site by typing your URL directly into their browser, or who have bookmarked your site
  • Referral Traffic: those who are referred to your site from another site, such as a product review, a news story, a local search profile, or social media
  • Campaign Traffic: those who find you through a custom campaign you have set up
  • Search Traffic: those who type in a keyword or keyword combination to find you (includes both organic or free search and paid search, such as AdWords)

Referral Sources

If you can see that the majority of your site visitors are coming from certain referral sites, you should ramp up your efforts in those areas. Alternately, if you notice that you aren’t getting many referrals, you should seek ways to improve traffic by looking for incoming link opportunities from well-trafficked sites. Examples include local search profiles, local Chamber of Commerce sites, YouTube, etc.

Marketing Campaigns

Using Google Analytics, you can determine how successful (or unsuccessful) your online marketing campaigns are. For example, say you send out an e-newsletter on the 2nd Wednesday of the month and you notice a spike in site visitors each month on that day. You can deduce that this form of marketing is very effective for you and should continue your efforts.

In contrast, you may note that very few visitors are finding you through your Google AdWords campaign. It may be best to discontinue that strategy and invest more in social media or blogging efforts, if these are showing greater response.

Search Traffic & Keywords

Perhaps you notice under your search traffic results that a particular keyword is being used to find you on a regular basis. Then you would want to increase your usage of that keyword (or key phrase) throughout your web site, such as in blog posts or title tags.

Discovering which geographic terms people use to search for you can be eye-opening. Often it’s not what you think. Many people use a regional term, such as South Shore, rather than naming specific towns that they service. I’ve found through analytics, however, that prospects rarely search for “South Shore pizza”. They tend to look more for “Kingston pizza”, Duxbury pizza”, or “Plymouth pizza”. Do you have the towns you serve listed on your site?

Beef Up Your Blog Tags

Similarly the tags you use on your blog posts can strategically draw in more traffic by building on the keywords you find in your traffic search results.

I have a client who does auto body work. We used the expected keywords in his web site verbiage: auto body, car painting, dent repair, etc. We found over time, however, that the most popular keyword combination by far that people used to find his site was “Coca Cola restoration”. (Because he had done a few antique Coca Cola cooler restoration projects on the side, we had featured them on his blog. Those blog posts got more hits than the rest of his site.) This helped him uncover a new marketing niche and encouraged him to begin advertising that part of his business more.

The blog (assuming that it is connected to your main web site) is a great place to use geographic keyword combinations on a regular basis. For example, each time you blog, you should include the town and key industry term that describes you, such as “Grafton web designer”. This helps drive more web traffic from prospects searching for that particular key phrase.

Optimize for Mobile Viewing

Another useful analytics report is mobile device usage. If you see that a significant number of site visitors are viewing your site on mobile devices, it’s a good idea to make sure your site is optimized for those platforms. Analytics lets you see not only how many people are using a mobile device, but also which types of devices (iPads, Droids, iPhones, etc.) they are using.

Have you checked lately to see how your web site appears on a smartphone? If visitors have to do an excessive amount of scrolling or find it too difficult to navigate with their thumbs on their small screens, you can be pretty sure they won’t be back again to visit in a hurry.

With a free tool like Google Analytics at your disposal, you can be more fully informed as to whether your web site is working in the way you intended. If it’s not, you can make some changes to increase traffic flow, such as improving ease of navigation or including better keywords in your verbiage.

In our next post, we’ll look at how you can use Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.