Q: How can we monitor where traffic is coming from on our website?
A: As a first step, I would stick Google Analytics on the site and work out a set of things to review. To understand where visitors are coming from, you will be looking at the "Traffic Sources" reports which show the step immediately before landing on your site. By default this report shows visitors from "organic" (non-paid search engine traffic), "CPC" (paid search engine traffic) and "referrals" (via links from other websites). Anything not falling into these categories will be marked as "direct". The main thing to watch out for using Google Analytics is things like email campaigns. If you’re not careful these can appear as regular "direct" traffic and skew your reports. The way to avoid this is to make sure you tag your email campaigns with campaign information. You can find out how to do this on the Google support page.
The most interesting thing about these reports for most organisations is the keyword information. This shows you what search terms people used to find your site and can be a goldmine of information. You should expect to see the majority of searches coming via "branded" search (i.e. searches including your brand name) along with a variety of keyphrases with varying levels of commercial intent.
It is very easy to get side-tracked with how much data there is available, however, especially when you are starting out. I would strongly recommend that you work out what your goals are for the website up front – that could be registration and email list sign-up – and get those tracked as goals in analytics. Suddenly this makes all of the metrics available in your analytics package so much more actionable.
This should get you started but there is loads more written about this topic online. I highly recommend Avinash Kaushik’s blog as well as his books on analytics.
When you get more advanced with this kind of information and are perhaps employing people to take actions based on the data, I really like the insight provided by tools like Trovus Revelations that can tell you which organisations people have visited your website from.
I have written and spoken about this subject in a variety of places, some (quite technical) resources include: Analytics every SEO should know and this downloadable PDF. We will also be running a free conference call about this subject in the near future, you can sign up to receive conference call alerts here.Do you have a question for Will Critchlow? Add a comment below or email us at email@example.com
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