Having quality traffic to your website is one of the most important things in the online world these days. The more legitimate visitors you have, the more likely it will be to make more sales, and the more advertisers you will be able to attract. Building a network of quality links can help you to generate more visits, while having good content and an intuitive navigation can help you to keep people longer on the site. Can you actually measure if your website attracts quality traffic, though? Can you somehow quantify the behavior of your visitors once they land on the site?
In this article, we will look at some of the ways to analyze the traffic to your site and the interaction between the site and its visitors. Where people come from, what they do and when they leave – these are all important questions that can help you to pinpoint any possible issues that you should address right away. This way, you can improve the overall user experience of your visitors.
- Look at the incoming traffic
- Analyze the site flow
- Study the on-page activity
- Look at conversions and exits
- Get direct feedback
- Wrap Up
Look at the incoming traffic
For a start, you should check where your visitors come from. If you have a better idea about the incoming traffic to your site, you will find out what you should focus on to get more legitimate visitors. You can also learn more about the type of people that visit the site. Are they all new visitors, or are there repeating ones? Do people open the home page, or is any of the inner pages more popular? Do they come from a certain portal? Is your site more popular in some countries? Knowing the answers to such questions will tell you if your strategies are successful or if you should focus your efforts in a particular direction.
If more people visit your site directly, they are probably aware of your brand name and the content you have. Such traffic is important - the more people go to your site directly, the more likely it is for them to sign up or order as they are clearly interested in what you offer. In addition, the more direct visits you have, the more advertisers you can get (if you want to have any ads on your site, of course).
Along with the direct visits, you should also look at the incoming traffic from backlinks, social media statuses or email campaigns. These are also legitimate visits that are valuable as they can increase your sales and boost the ranking of your site in search engine results. They can also tell you if your marketing campaigns are successful.
If you have more visits through search engines, it means you have good content that search engines value. This is a good sign as what you offer can help people resolve their problem or can help them find what they need. If most of the visitors come through search engines, it is likely that the site is yet to become more popular and to get more direct visits.
If you notice traffic that is not legitimate, you should take measures to limit it. Link exchanges where people click on a link for an incentive can hurt your ranking, so you should not invest into such programs. The same is valid for multiple links from low-reputation websites. If you notice there is a lot of traffic from such sites, you can contact their owners to have the link to your site removed. Naturally, you should also limit any traffic from automatic bots as soon as possible as it can distort the site traffic statistics.
There are various ways to analyze the incoming traffic and see where visitors come from. Here are a few options:
- The statistics in your web hosting control panel. Hosting providers usually offer detailed statistics that you can use to monitor your traffic. Some are real-time, others are updated once per day. You will come across different software – Webalizer, AWStats, an in-house platform or another third-party application. If you use a cloud website builder, you may have to pay extra to get access to such statistics.
- A self-hosted platform. You will find a number of such applications that you can install in your hosting account. One such example is Matomo, which is a part of our App Installer. The advantage of using a self-hosted solution is that you will have more control over the settings of the application, so you can track better where the traffic to your site comes from.
- A cloud platform. The most popular one is Google Analytics, but you will find alternatives like Plausible as well. Cloud platforms are powerful, but you will be sharing traffic information with third-party companies and some people feel uneasy about that.
Analyze the site flow
The overall flow on your site is quite important. You have driven traffic to your website, but what happens next? Do people visit only one page before they order, or do they keep browsing the site for some time? If it is the latter, you should check if there is some problem that prevents them from reaching easily what they need. Of course, it depends on the nature of your website. If you offer products or services, for example, and people keep browsing your site instead of ordering, there may be some problem that you will have to address. If you have a blog and people keep reading different posts before they go to your main site, they may be interested in your content, so in this case the more they browse the blog, the better.
When you analyze your visitor flows, you can use most of the analytics platforms that you use to monitor the incoming traffic. Some applications allow you to record entire sessions that you can later preview. This way, you can see first-hand what content people browse or how many pages they visit. Other useful information you can find out includes the number of steps visitors make to reach a certain point or the most popular paths on the site, for example. Usually, the information is represented visually, so you can easily interpret it. Analyzing the flow will tell you if the site structure and navigation are good enough, or if there is some flaw in your logic. Sometimes people may see things in a different way, so you may have to adjust the way your site is built.
Different applications collect and display the flow information in a different way. We recommend using the self-hosted Matomo, as the application allows you to preview each visitor session as a video, giving you a unique insight into the way people interact with your site.
Study the on-page activity
After you look at the overall flow, you can focus on the performance of specific pages. Look at the way visitors interact with each page on the site. How much down the page they scroll, where they move the cursor or where they click – this is information that can help you to discover the strong and the weak sections of that page. Do people read the FAQ at the bottom of the page before they take any action, or do they click on your CTA button right away? Do you have some important information that nobody actually reaches? Once you see how people interact with the page, you can rearrange the content on it, add something you may be missing, or remove content that seems to be useless.
Using your preferred analytics software, you can generate heatmaps that can give you useful information. A heatmap is a visual representation of the visitor engagement that uses colors to depict data. You can easily discover the most popular parts of a page, displayed in red (hot), and the least popular ones, displayed in blue (cold). A heatmap is the best way to get an insight into your visitors’ behavior and to understand how exactly people interact with the elements on any given page.
If you use Matomo, for instance, you can generate several different types of heatmaps – click map, mouse move / hover map, and scroll map. Using different colors, the application will show you which parts of the page perform better, so you can focus on improving the parts that don’t attract much interest. Matomo also includes an option called “Average above the fold” - this information tells you how much content people see without scrolling down, so you should have the most important content above this line if you want to grab their attention right away.
Look at conversions and exits
Unless you have a purely informational or personal website, you probably want to convert the visits to sales or subscriptions. Looking at the way visitors interact with the site and with individual pages can help you to achieve your final goal – to convert as many visits as possible. This is why, you should look not only at the visitor behavior as a whole, but also at the conversions and exit points in particular. In this way, you will get a better idea if everything is fine, or if there is some problem on your website.
Find out the path that leads to conversions the most and adapt the rest of the site to it. You may have to change a few links or create some new content that will make it easier for people to order a product, sign up for a service or open an account. Here you should look at the specific flows that lead to an actual sale/signup.
If visitors don’t end up signing up / ordering, there may be some issue. You should collect as much information as possible to find out when exactly people leave your site and in what way. Do they close the tab, do they click on the Back button, or do they click on a link leading to another site? If you ask for a credit card for a free trial, for example, or you ask people to create an account before they can add products to their cart, they may feel discouraged to continue, so they may simply leave. It is important to address any possible issues and to minimize the number of exits. You may offer some small incentive for them to stay and see if the number of exits decreases.
Get direct feedback
The idea of analyzing the traffic to your site and the visitors’ behavior on it is to improve the design and the overall user experience, and to find out if you have to adjust your content and marketing strategies. This will allow you to meet the expectations of your visitors and potential customers, so you can increase your conversion rates.
One of the ways to analyze the user experience and to find out why your visitors behave in a particular way on the site is to ask them for direct feedback. After all, they are the ones who can give you the most accurate information what sections of the site are user-friendly or what problems they see with the flow.
There are different ways you can get feedback. For existing customers, you can add a digital survey in the members area or send an email. For people who do not have an account yet, you can add a pop-up with a few short questions, or add a permanent poll on the site. The information you collect this way will give you an invaluable insight.
Understanding where your visitors come from and how they interact with your website can give you valuable information that will help you to improve the site content and navigation.
Based on your findings, you can adjust your marketing strategy and filter the bad traffic to maximize the legitimate visits to the site. To analyze the incoming traffic, you can use your account statistics, a self-hosted application or a cloud platform. Any of these options has its pros and cons, so you can use the one you prefer.
Once people land on your website, you should make sure they stay on it just the right amount of time. If you offer some type of information, make sure that you engage people enough so that they stay longer. If you sell goods or services, be sure that people can order without much hassle and without going through multiple pages they don’t really need to browse. Generating different heatmaps and looking at different flows can help you do that.
Of course, you can also ask people to give you feedback directly. This way, you will find out first-hand what parts of your website you can improve to provide a better user experience.