Welcome to the second installment of our Dissecting Google Analytics Reports blog series. Today we’re focusing on Traffic Sources.
In the first installment we looked at Behavior Flow, and soon we’ll be looking at:

  • New vs. Returning Visitor Frequency & Engagement
  • Location
  • Technology, Browsers and Mobile Viewing

Breaking down the sources of your website traffic is an important feature of your Google Analytics report to understand because it includes some valuable information about your website visitors. Upon reviewing your website traffic sources you’ll be able to answer two central questions:

  1. How are visitors finding my website?
  2. Is my website viewed by prospects or customers?

Locate Traffic SourcesLocating your Google Analytics Traffic Report

After logging in to Google Analytics click on the Acquisition tab and then All Traffic to see the breakdown of how visitors are finding your website. Notice how after each traffic source the channel grouping is listed (Organic, Direct, Referral, Social, Email, etc.). If you’re interested in understanding which channels overall bring in the most traffic to your website, click on the Channels tab under Acquisition.

In the All Traffic section of the report you can view the specific sources within each channel that drive traffic to your website.

Traffic Sources

Just like it sounds, traffic sources refer to the exact source that directed traffic to your website. Let’s take a look at the five channels you’ll most likely see on your report and the sources that correspond to each channel.Google Analytics Traffic Sources

Organic Search Traffic

Organic search traffic describes the visitors who found your website by searching with a search engine, like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Take a look at which search engines are most often used by your visitors. Our report tells us that our number one source of traffic is organic searches in Google, accounting for 65.2 percent of all of our traffic sources. Knowing which search engines drive the most traffic to your site is important because it can indicate where you should place ads.

If you switch back over the the channel grouping view and click on Organic Search, you can see exactly what keywords people are searching to find your content. This may indicate which of your target markets are visiting your site and based on that you can write tailored, successful ads.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic refers to the visitors who found your site by typing in your domain name, or bookmarking pages, to visit your site directly. These visitors either know you or have heard of you, so they’re probably a mix of current customers or highly interested prospects. A lot of direct traffic often means your other marketing efforts are paying off. Considering direct traffic ranks as our second largest channel of traffic, making up 12.9 percent of all our website traffic, I’d say our marketing efforts are doing pretty darn good!

Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is another channel grouping that is likely to bring a significant percentage of traffic to your website. Referral traffic describes visitors who found your site by clicking on a link to your website from another site. More simply put, referrals show the other websites that are driving traffic to your site.

Look for directory sites in your referral traffic and investigate ways to get even more traffic from sources that are already good referrers. Perhaps you can strike up a deal with other bloggers who are also interested in earning more referral traffic by agreeing to share each others content once in a while.

Top 4 Traffic Sources

The top four sources driving traffic to the MayeCreate website are 1) Google, 2) Direct Traffic, 3) Email and 4) Facebook.

Email Traffic

The Email channel grouping refers to the visitors who found your website by navigating there from a link in an email, so email marketing is a great way to bring visitors to your website.One way to do this is by promoting blog posts via email. With every blog post that’s published on our website I also schedule an email to notify our blog subscribers about the post. Each email includes a link to the corresponding blog post so people can easily navigate to the post from their inbox.

I know the effort I put into composing and scheduling our marketing emails pays off considering 6.72 percent of our traffic originates from emails sent through our HubSpot account.

Social Traffic

With the rise of social media as a primary marketing tool it’s no wonder why Google Analytics specifies social traffic as a key channel grouping for directing traffic to your website. Social traffic accounts for the people who visited your website from a social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

Facebook is the number one social network driving traffic to our website, with 67.7 percent of all social traffic coming from Facebook so far this year. This is great news considering we’ve been working on improving our social media campaigns. Following behind is Twitter, which accounts for 16.2 percent of social traffic, and LinkedIn, bringing in 11.7 percent of social traffic.

If you currently use social media as a marketing tool but weren’t quite sure if your efforts have been effective, you should definitely check out your social traffic report. Compare your social traffic from month to month to determine if your current messaging strategy is proving to be fruitful.

Dissecting Google Analytics Reports Blog Series

Be on the lookout for the next blog post in our Dissecting Google Analytics Reports series. In the next installment of this five-post series we’ll take a look at New vs. Returning Visitor Frequency and Engagement.

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