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SEO | Apr 19
Jessica Malnik on January 8, 2021 (last modified on January 6, 2021) • 14 minute read
If you are like most marketers, you want to see your website traffic go up and to the right. Seeing a chart with hockey stick growth feels awesome.
However, how much of that traffic is actually real people, and NOT bots. In fact, did you know that bots make up 37.9% of all Internet traffic?
Of the real people viewing your website, how many are actually qualified prospects – i.e. people who are interested in your content or might want to buy your stuff?
Traffic growth – without traffic quality metrics – is just another vanity metric.
In this post, we’re sharing how you can measure and increase the percentage of qualified traffic to your site, including:
When it comes to measuring your site’s traffic, here are the key questions you should answer:
This allows you to understand not only if traffic is increasing, but if that traffic is qualified.
You can use this data to make all kinds of marketing decisions.
For example, you can use the data around traffic sources to decide which channels to invest more time and budget into.
If your traffic is similar to our survey findings, you might notice that organic search traffic is more qualified than other channels. So, you might double down on producing more SEO content.
It is no longer enough to just measure site visits and pageviews.
For example, Anayasia Johnson of Online Optimism says, “If your traffic is high but is followed by a high bounce rate, high exit rate and low average time on the site, that is a good indicator of low-quality traffic. Essentially, this shows that despite many people coming to your site, they are not interacting with many of the features because they lost interest very quickly.”
From average time on page to bounce rate and visitor-to-lead conversion rates, here are the 10 traffic quality metrics that every business should be keeping an eye on.
Let’s take a detailed look at each.
Michael Monyak of BizcaBOOM says, “Most people tend to overcomplicate this, it’s very simple, what’s your overall conversion rate? If your overall conversion rate is .02%, then you need work on getting better traffic or putting your traffic into a marketing funnel such as an email list. If your overall conversion rate is at around 1-5%, then that is very good, although you can still get better at this by growing your organic traffic and putting them into your email list.”
Kevin Kohlert of Borealis Digital Marketing adds, “The most effective way to measure the quality of your traffic is tracking goals/conversions with Google Analytics and/or a third-party Analytics program. This may include phone calls, contact form submissions, sales from Ecommerce, etc. If customers are taking action after visiting your page, you can assume that your content is serving the needs of your prospective clients/customers. At the end of the day, ROI is everything for any marketing campaign.
We personally use Google Analytics to measure goals completions, goal conversion rate, cost per acquisition, etc.
Other than goals/conversions Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration can be useful metrics as precursors to Goal Conversions.”
Editor’s note: Use this free Google Analytics Website Engagement dashboard template to track your most important website engagement metrics, such as average time on page, bounce rate, average session duration, the number of unique visitors to your website, and more.
“If you want to measure the quality of your traffic, you want to know how many leads you get from it,” says Jonathan Aufray of Digital Growth Hackers. “Don’t focus on the number of visitors you get but rather the number of leads you generate. It’s better to have only 100 visitors and generate 10 leads from it than having 300 visitors and generate 3 leads from it.
So, focus on the number of leads you get and you will know how targeted and qualified your traffic is.”
Abhishek Shukla of Product Guru says, “The first thing to look for quality traffic is bounce rate if people are visiting your site but not staying up for a while then there is a high probability that they are not interested in the content.”
“Average time on page shows me how engaged people are with my content,” says Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. “Content engagement depends a ton on content quality, but it also depends on the user who’s on the page.
I mean, my piece could be stellar, but if they simply don’t care about it, they’ll leave. So seeing people stay for minutes tells me they are the right kind of traffic for me.”
“One metric to measure traffic quality is average pages per session,” says Kathryn Schwab of Bobbie. “This tells you how many pages of your site in total that a visitor viewed during their session. The more pages a visitor views, the more familiar they’ll become with your brand and products or services. They will also be more likely to subscribe to your newsletter, come back to view your content again later, and purchase your products.”
Some sites might find it more helpful to track the related metric of average session duration instead of average pages per session. In fact, according to our research, the average session duration is between 2-3 minutes.
“The first metric I always look at is what percentage of visitors are bots vs legitimate human traffic,” says John Ross of Test Prep Insight. “You can get this report from Cloudflare, which provides free and premium packages for website security, performance and analytics.
Cloudflare provides a nice summary of human vs bot traffic, so that is always my first step in measuring the overall quality of my traffic.”
“The most accurate ways to measure your traffic quality is to figure out how it affects our bottom line,” says Robert Gate of Archery Topic. “For some businesses, it’s easy to attribute the sale to the traffic, but for certain businesses (brick and mortar for example), figuring out the attribution is a much trickier task.
For me, the solution is to figure out the closest possible metrics that have the same direction as your bottom line (if that metric goes up, sales LIKELY go up).
For many businesses, it’s the number of email subscribers.
It’s the most efficient way to connect with your audience, warm them up for sales and promotion, and finally convert them into loyal customers. Therefore, I develop a close pipeline between my different sources of traffic into my increase in email subscribers.”
“When we measure the quality of our site traffic, we are looking for the origin of that traffic,” says Amir Yazdan of GroMD. “In doing so, we can better decide how to create our marketing strategies for the next quarter.
Once a visitor is on our site, we will want to measure how long they stay, how many pages they visit, and if they request additional information or make a purchase.”
“One lesser-known way to measure the quality of traffic on a local business site is to look in Google Analytics where your traffic is coming from,” says Caleb Riutta of The Trusted Homebuyer.
“For example, if you operate only in America and you get a lot of foreign traffic. Then it is fair to surmise that the quality of your traffic is lower since foreigners are not your target audience. Also, the keywords you rank for is another clear signal of user intent. Some keywords have better purchase intent than others. To measure this use I Search From and check if your website is ranking in the search results.”
“Measuring the quality of the traffic comes down to how well each visit earns when it comes to RPM from ads, affiliate, and conversions,” says Jake Harrington of Jake and Betty. “So I generally look at the source of the traffic, whether that be organic or from social, and collect data on those visits.
The biggest metrics I use are per-page RPMs and assigning tracking IDs to certain links and affiliate offers.”
Traffic growth by itself is a vanity metric. It is easy to chase the high of seeing traffic go up and to the right.
However, if the ratio of traffic growth doesn’t correlate with an increase in conversions, then what’s the point?
A better path forward is to focus on increasing traffic quality NOT just traffic.
In this section, we’re sharing seven tactics to help you do just that.
Donald Damilola of Omniconverts says, “As a starting point to measure the quality level of a website traffic, one needs to have in place a predefined set of marketing goals which will allow a marketer to invest in providing the right contents that will encourage both new and existing traffic for repeated visits.
And to determine the effectiveness of this strategy, pay your attention to one of the most important metrics at your disposal – Bounce Rate. With this metric, you’ll be able to know if your visitors actually stay around much longer or try to explore more of your website’s contents.
If done strategically, website owners should be able to come up with data that will show the quality of browsing sessions of unique visitors a website is getting.”
Jeff Ferguson of Amplitude Digital adds, “For blogs or any form of promotional activity, “traffic” is only as good as the real marketing goals you’re trying to achieve for whatever touchpoint along the consumer journey your blog is designed for in the first place. Otherwise, it’s just numbers on a dashboard.
There’s rarely just one metric that works for all blogs. If your content is for upper funnel or post sale activity, then you’re going to be focused more on engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, and maybe conversions like newsletter signups. However, if you’re closer to the end of the funnel, then it’s sales, leads, or however else you’re making your money.”
“Measuring the quality of your traffic can be a challenging task,” says Peter Thaleikis of RankLetter. “In the end, quality is always relative to the goal. You will need strong tracking to measure the quality of your traffic.
Arriving at meaningful conclusions requires tracking the main components of your marketing funnel. These components vary: your website, email list, and shop are typical candidates.
One ratio of interest is the number of customers divided by the number of visitors. It shows the overall quality of the traffic your site attracts.
With good inbound tracking, you should be able to break it down by traffic source. This allows you to identify your strongest sources – not by volume, but by quality.”
Blake Bobit of Solution Scout adds, “Make sure you set goals in GA for every action you want your users to take: email sign up, page views per session, adding products to cart (if ecomm), and conversions and/or sales.
Well-defined goals can help you segment your traffic to see what is adding value – and what is not.”
Editor’s Note: Looking for a simple way to keep track of all of your Google Analytics Goals over time? Use this Website and Google My Business Goals and Conversions Dashboard which combines search, user, and goal data.
“When it comes to traffic quality, we first make sure we understand user intent for a given landing page and then optimize the on-page experience for conversions,” says Nate Nead of SEO.co. “Once we know the page will perform when the right audience hits it, we then optimize and/or pay for traffic to that landing page using keywords that match the user intent we want.
Finally, we measure conversions. Traffic quality is really about getting a high percentage of bottom-of-the-funnel conversions on pages that are commercially-driven. That is how we optimize, maximize and ultimately measure traffic quality.”
“We’ve set up specific reports that drill our traffic down into the various categories people are coming from – organic, social media, directory, paid search, etc,” says Brita Hammer of Emergent Software. “After those categories, we use US-based traffic reports only that filters out traffic not from the US. We typically only measure US-based traffic since that is our target market.”
“You want to keep a close eye on how and where people are engaging with your site,” says Kevin Miller of The Word Counter. “Just like a brick and mortar business that assesses the traffic of the area their business is in, make sure you are monitoring where site visitors are located so you can better understand their needs.
You also need to monitor how long users are staying on your site and where they are going to figure out what is working and what is not. Another key metric is bounce rate; this measures how many people visit your site and immediately click off. This will give you key insights on the features that are off-putting and help you reorient.”
S. Adam Rizzieri of Agency Partner Interactive says, “Engagement metrics are the most important thing that I look at.
Is my overall bounce rate low? How many pages per session are my site users clicking through?
I ask myself these questions and refer to the time spent on my site and measure this up on a per traffic source basis. These are all data points that can be found with ease in Google Analytics.”
For example, Paul La Vigne of DVS Marketing & Advertising says, “When measuring the quality of our web traffic we look for signs that the user is actively engaging with our content and exploring our site. Time on the site, time on page, pages per session, and bounce rate are all metrics we use.
Because our referral traffic averages multiple pages per session and a longer time on page, we see it as higher quality than traffic coming from social media which averages a lower number of pages per session and a high bounce rate.
We also use heatmaps on key pages to analyze our UX/UI and to see a user’s depth of engagement (how far down they scroll).”
“Referrals can definitely provide some of the highest quality traffic,” says Andrea Loubier of Mailbird. “Referring domains may be collaborators or simply other companies that appreciate your services. But whenever a visitor will click from one site to another, it is done with the intent to investigate and learn more. This is an excellent signal that they are prime to become qualified leads.”
“Many people don’t give social media traffic the recognition that it deserves,” says Thomas Bolt of Big EVAL. “If a visitor first learns of your company via their favorite social platform, then they’ll only click on to your site if they are interested in learning more. That’s the perfect scenario for a good, quality lead.”
Editor’s Note: If you want to analyze your social media traffic, use this Google Analytics Social Media Dashboard to get real-time data on visitors, goal conversions, and bounce rate from each social channel.
When you are investing a ton of time and energy into growing your site, it pays to make sure you are bringing in the right kind of traffic. By keeping an eye on these metrics alongside your site goals, you can ensure that you are attracting more visitors that are interested in your content and/or services and products.
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