Have you ever wondered where your website traffic comes from? Hopefully you have an analytics package installed so that you can track everything that happens. For small businesses, a good choice is to use Google Analytics. It is free and provides a more robust solution than you will usually get from a hosting provider. But what do all those numbers mean and is your website performing well? Here is where most small business website traffic comes from and why.
Types of Website Traffic
The main types of website traffic are:
- Organic Search
- Paid Search/Display
- Direct Traffic
Some people will count email marketing traffic or some other traffic source, but these are generally the big five.
Organic Search Traffic
Organic traffic comes from searchers finding you on a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, etc). Growing this type of traffic is the main reason you’d hire an agency to do SEO work for your website.
Paid Search/Display Traffic
All your paid advertising campaigns come into play here. Google AdWords, Bing Ads, display ads, etc.
Not as simple as it sounds. Direct would make you think that only people who have your website bookmarked or type the address in would count in this category. That would be incorrect. Anything that the analytics package can’t figure out ends up here. That means it could be any of the other types of traffic or actual direct traffic.
When someone finds your website through a link on another site, it counts as referral traffic. Something to watch out for here though is referral spam. If you are looking at your analytics without any filtering, you are probably seeing some really nice referral traffic. Unfortunately, in most cases, it isn’t real. It is bot driven and in most cases they are using a trick to make your analytics pick them up without ever visiting your website.
Referral traffic from social sites like Facebook and Twitter. This was added to make it easier to identify how social media is impacting your site.
What should you expect on a small business site?
Traffic is going to depend upon what you are doing to market your website. If you do a lot of advertising, you’ll probably see a higher percentage of your visits coming from it. But here is what we found by analyzing website traffic across a variety of industries.
About Half of All Traffic is From Organic Search
We found 48% of traffic to small business websites comes from Organic Search. This shows why some level of SEO is still a very important part of your website marketing plan.
Paid Search and Banner Ads drive almost 25% of Traffic
On average, the websites we studied received 24% of their traffic from paid search. The percentage tended to be higher with young companies, where the websites have only existed for 2 years or less. It also tended to be higher for companies not actively pursuing an SEO strategy.
We don’t know exactly where 1/5 of Traffic Comes From
Analytics reports showed that 19% of traffic was direct. But we already know that this number is probably way to large. One recent study showed more than half of direct traffic is actually likely additional organic traffic. That would mean that SEO is even more important, as around 60% of all traffic comes from organic search. So that leaves about 9% of traffic left over in the direct category, at least some of which is really people typing in your website from seeing it elsewhere or because they are current customers.
Social and Referral Traffic Usually Stink
The 6% referral traffic is probably inflated by analytics spam that we didn’t manage to weed out. Yes, you’ll get some clicks to your site from links in directories and elsewhere, but unless you have a pretty robust plan in place, referral links won’t be a huge part of your website traffic.
Social was even worse. Only 3% of traffic came from social and even companies with pretty active Facebook pages were not getting website traffic from them. It seems folks that follow you on social networks like to stay on the social networks when they interact.
And other studies say…
…something quite similar. A 2014 study showed that 51% of traffic was coming from organic search and only 5% from Social Media. The largest variation is usually paid advertising traffic, which makes sense because some companies believe in it, while others think the pay-per-click model costs too much.