Business leaders must have an understanding of the fundamentals of website traffic generation and what drives traffic to their company website. The good news: traffic generation to your website can be easily summarized for a few key traffic sources. Remember, traffic generation is step three of the Four-Step Process. Drive traffic to your website after the strategy is in order and the design is great. Driving traffic costs money and time, so it is not a good idea to drive traffic to a website that is not optimized for success.
Three Major Traffic Sources of Website Traffic
Google Analytics breaks down the sources of website traffic into three major areas: direct traffic, search engine traffic and referral traffic. Here is an overview of each one.
1. Direct Traffic
This is traffic that comes to your website by typing in your website URL or domain name into their browser or from a bookmarked page on the site visitor’s web browser. Direct traffic is an indicator of your brand’s popularity on the Internet and will usually have the highest conversion rates. Much of this traffic is generated by word of mouth and from offline marketing efforts.
It is always a good idea to have a domain name that matches your company name. For example, if your company name is ABC Widgets your website should be ABCWidgets.com. This will make it much easier for direct traffic to find you. Otherwise, you may end up sending direct traffic to a competitor’s website.
2. Search Engine Traffic
This is traffic that comes to your website from a search in a major search engine. It can be from organic results in the free listings, social media or from paid advertisements. Much of your traffic will come from searches on your company name, which makes this traffic similar to direct traffic.
Search engines should drive at least 50 percent of your overall traffic and you should work hard to be listed on the first page of Google search results for the keyword terms most appropriate for your company. Google is the leading search engine by far and has a more than 70 percent search engine market share.
3. Referral Traffic
The third form of traffic is referral traffic. This is traffic that comes from another website through a link to your website. At one time, this was an important factor in search engine rankings, but it is now an indicator of your site’s online reach and your ability to build a partnership with websites that attract your target market.
Five Traffic Generation Areas of Focus
We can go one step further and break down your traffic generation efforts into five key areas of focus for the strategic digital marketing team. These areas will be discussed in more detail in coming blog posts. Here is an overview.
1. Offline Sales and Marketing
For most companies, the most valuable traffic comes from those who know your brand, are current customers or have been referred to your website. This traffic will be listed as “direct traffic” in Google Analytics or they will use your company name to find your site in a search engine. Make it easy for people to find your website by including your domain name on all your company materials and on any items that are seen by your target market. Do not get so caught up in your digital marketing work that you forget to give attention to offline marketing efforts that drive very qualified traffic to your site.
2. Search Engines
Search engine traffic is one of the best sources for new customers and can be broken into two areas. The first is organic traffic coming from your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. This is the traffic displayed in the free search results. The second form of search engine traffic is from pay-per-click (PPC) ad programs, such as Google AdWords. Traffic from search engines consists of brand name searches and new targeted searches based on keyword research and SEO. Many people use Google to find your website by searching your company name. You will learn more about SEO in upcoming posts.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a key part of search engine results, but also a traffic generation strategy in its own right. Users will come to your site for valuable content and it can be used to pull targeted traffic from a variety of sources. The key is to have a content marketing plan to drive these results. E-mail marketing, your online content, blogs and other content types are examples of content marketing.
4. Social Media
Social media is one of the best interactive channels for content distribution and traffic generation. It is also important for SEO and branding. Social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have become so large that they can be considered their own version of the Internet! There is also a lot of hype associated with social media and it is important to set the right expectations and goals for social media results. It is also one of the fastest changing parts of strategic digital marketing.
5. Partnerships and Links from Relevant Websites
It is important to see links coming to your site as partnerships with other websites and not as link exchanges or search engine bait. There should be a reason to have links to your website and you should reach out to appropriate websites to request a link. Google continues to rank websites with inbound links higher in search results, although this is not as critical to your SEO efforts as it was in the past.
Take time to understand the five key areas of traffic generation. You do not need to be an expert in each area. Only a broad understanding is needed so you can ask the right questions and make sure traffic generation is in alignment with your overall strategic digital marketing strategy. The majority of your website traffic will come as a result of work in those five areas.
- Include a traffic generation plan for each of these five areas in your overall strategic digital marketing plan. Remember to include offline marketing in these efforts.
- Make sure each area is coordinated with the strategic digital marketing strategy.
- Check assumptions with your website data in each area through your Google Analytics reports and stats.
- Learn more about content marketing and develop a plan for content to drive website traffic.
- Understand the social networks frequented by your target market and develop a strategy to reach them with content posts.
- Learn how to research keywords and the fundamentals of SEO.
- Develop a list of websites that should link to your website and pursue a linking strategy with those companies.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.