6 Types Of Web Traffic And Why They Matter

Illustration showing an entrepreneur managing their website traffic

Regardless of how well-thought-out your website is or how share-worthy your content is, with no traffic, it is more dead than alive!

In case you aren’t familiar with the term “traffic”, it simply means prospective customers. If you have a retail store, traffic means people walking into your store; And when it comes to online marketing, traffic means people visiting your website.

Your website serves as a gateway to your business. If you can find a way to increase the amount of traffic to your site, you’ll enjoy a greater number of eventual customers and transactions. The more people that see your brand online, the more potential customers you stand to gain.

However, if you’re new to the world of online marketing, topics like “increasing web traffic” can seem overwhelming as there isn’t a single tactic that suddenly funnels people to your site.

But when you understand what types of traffic exist and what traffic channel can potentially attract visitors, this helps you to see the direction of work and generally makes a campaign for business promotion more clear and organized.

It is shown below the default channel grouping by Google Analytics. Let’s discuss each type of traffic one by one and know why they really matter– I’ve included a brief note about each and what I see as the most important ingredients to using it successfully to drive sales.

1. Organic Search Traffic

Organic traffic is the primary channel that inbound marketing strives to increase. This traffic is defined as visitors that have found your website using a specific query in a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. This does not include paid search ads which are clearly why it’s the bread and butter of search engine optimization (SEO).

In order to obtain this type of web traffic, you must optimize your website for industry and product-specific keywords that you know your potential customers will be searching.

You may start by creating and publishing content as often as possible, but not at the cost of quality! The more quality content you have on your website, including thought leadership articles and blog posts, the more opportunities you create for organic traffic to come your way.

Since people search because they have a question they want to have answered or a problem they want to have solved.  You need to communicate clearly to the searcher, as well as to the search engine. You need to have content that addresses the question or problem to increase your search traffic.

Also, organic traffic is highly scalable. The more effort you put into it, the greater returns you’ll see. However, you should regularly work on external factors that influence website traffic rankings. You may need several onsite fixes to make sure the Google can see your full site and see it as an authority. But still, the biggest factor responsible for increasing search ranks is high-quality content.

While there used to be ample ways to game the system, if anyone tries to tell you building organic traffic is a walk in the park, don’t listen to them. Building organic traffic is the hardest work you’ll ever put into your website. With that being said, it’s also the greatest investment of time and effort you can make.

Pretty cool, right?

2. Direct Traffic

Although direct traffic is complicated, this is usually your most profitable source of traffic. It is when potential customers sit down at their computer or phone and type in your exact web address into their browser, with the intent of visiting your website.

The most important way to build this traffic source is through traditional “brand-building” activities. This traffic is entirely reliant on people knowing of you before they visit your site.  

The best way to make this happen is to show up in places that are not your website, with a compelling reason for people to visit your site. Your site should meet visitors’ expectations and have an easy-to-use site.  

Choose a short, easy-to-remember and easy-to-type URL and promote it abundantly in your offline materials – public materials, business cards, newspaper ads, and of course, on social media posts!

Furthermore, It should be clear from the moment the first page of your site loads that they’re at the right place, and what they need to do to get what they came for. The navigation should be natural, user-friendly, and offer an uninhibited path through the purchase process.

To guide you further, here’s The Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics.

3. Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is measured by users that land on your website via external links clicked from another website. It clearly relies upon having a stellar link building strategy. For instance, if a user on another website clicks on a link that takes them to your website, that is often counted as a referral.

To build referral traffic, you have to do things to get mentioned on others’ sites.  Most often, this is through compelling content. Do things worth talking about, and put them on your website in a place that’s easy to link to. By creating shareable content, you can earn lots of backlinks back to your website.

Furthermore, content partnerships are a strong way to build referral traffic. Comment on a blog or guest author some content for them, on the condition that they include a link to your site. You can reciprocate as well if you’d like to feature their content on your site.

Not only will you get more referral visitors in the future, but Google will also send you more visitors. That’s because the number and authority of inbound links are powerful signals that Google considers when ranking you in search engine results pages (SERP).

Common questions about referral traffic:

How do I track referral traffic?

As you can see in the image above, Google Analytics tracks referral traffic for you. To track specific referral traffic, with in more detail, it’s a good idea to use UTM codes as often as possible. Here’s an article which explains UTM codes in great detail. Also, here’s Google’s Campaign URL Builder to help you build UTM codes for your links.

How do I increase website referral traffic?

Here’s a list of some ways to increase referral traffic to your website:

  1. Create high-quality content that adds substantial value to your readers.
  2. Create awesome visual content other people want to use on their websites
  3. Build backlinks through a blend of great content and outreach.
  4. Guest blog for sites with target audience overlap.
  5. Share your message on social media.
  6. Interview experts in your field. This should at least garner social media traffic.
  7. Find partners with access to your ideal customers.
  8. Speak at conferences and offer your knowledge for free.
  9. Run a giveaway. Giveaway free consultations, small products, or anything that makes sense with your business. There are many ways to go about giveaways, but tools like Viral Loops and KingSumo are great ways to practice the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple stupid).
  10. Create a simple micro-application that help solve a small but annoying problem for your target customers. For example, checkout CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer Tool. It’s simple, yet incredibly helpful for marketers who are in CoSchedule’s target market. You don’t need to go this far, but you can create simple micro applications for a couple of hundred dollars by hiring developers on UpWork or Fiverr.

4. Social Traffic

Social traffic is traffic that comes from any of the social media platforms. As you might imagine, it consists of people who found and visited your site through links on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many others.

The good thing about this traffic is it’s generated as a result of interactions on the social networks– that’s why it’s also considered as organic or unpaid.

The volume of such conversions depends on how active your company is in social networks and how well you interact with your audience (friends/followers). The more followers you gain on each platform, the easier it will be to drive social visitors to your site.

Your primary goal should not just to have a social presence but to build and engage a community. By creating a strong community with highly involved and active subscribers, you can get your increased traffic from platforms with millions of users.

The key to achieve this is to post updates consistently and to engage your followers as often as possible. You should reach out to your target customers, study them, and deliver content that you know they will enjoy and interact with. Over time, you’ll likely notice that certain social platforms bring you more traffic than others.

5. Paid Traffic

Paid traffic (also called inorganic traffic) refers to users who enter your website through paid internet advertising.

Google Adwords is the most commonly used platform for pay pay-per-click campaigns (PPC).

Google helps you target consumers online by bidding on keywords specific to your company and business. Your ad then appears near the top of the search engine results or in another prominent position when a person searches these terms online.

In simpler terms, Google puts your ads in front of your desired audience and they do all they can to motivate your ideal customer to click on your website. You pay the bid amount when your ad is clicked on. And, you can budget this by setting a maximum daily amount for your PPC ads.

However, while PPC relies heavily on how much you invest, smart PPC advertising will attract the right kind of traffic faster.

The main advantage is that you can fully control their flow by various parameters. For example, you can decide how many conversions your website gets and when to use geographic and other types of targeting.

Apart from Google Adwords, there are also platforms on Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and other media sites for paid search campaigns. Check out A Comprehensive List of the Best PPC Networks 2019.

6. Email Marketing Traffic

As its name states, it is the traffic that lands on your website via links contained in the marketing email that you send out.

Whether mass email marketing or individual messages, emailing is an inexpensive way to advertise your business compared to many other types of marketing. It’s also extremely easy to set up and track an email marketing campaign, making it a very accessible type of marketing for small businesses.

To obtain more of this kind of traffic, consistently send out a newsletter to the email list you’ve built from the people who provided the necessary information on your website.

For instance, providing these potential customers with news updates about your company, upcoming events and special offers will keep reminding them that your business exists and that maybe it’s time for another visit.

Moreover, remember to use your emails to also build rapport with customers by sharing your expertise, giving them tips and insights they can value. Share information that lets them know more about you and your company.

In a nutshell, email marketing allows your business to keep your customers informed, tailor your marketing messages, and eventually drive traffic to your site.

Frequently Asked Web Traffic Questions

Now that you understand the peculiarities of these types of web traffic, I’m sure you have plenty of questions in mind. To boil it down, below are our brief answers:

Why does knowing these types of traffic really matter?

One of the most exciting and important aspects of digital marketing is the ability to understand exactly how your customers are finding you. It informs every single part of integrated campaigns and helps determine which efforts are working and which ones need to be revisited.

By knowing these types of web traffic, it tells you a lot about the status of your website and how to improve, optimize, and serve your customer better. You can use it to your advantage to improve your reporting, your analysis, and your online marketing initiatives as a whole.

What is the benefit of traffic on my website?

There are 4 Billion Internet users. Imagine that! The larger the number of visitors to your website the better! When you can increase your traffic along with the quality of the visitors, the better you will be able to increase your website conversion and get that traffic to become paying customers.

Other than making money, more website traffic, in the long run, can allow you to expand your business and your business profits, hire more employees, increase your offerings, etc.

How to know where my website traffic is coming from?

Once again, Google analytics is one of the best and most used tools to track your traffic. It provides clear, and helpful visuals to show you exactly what’s going on with your website traffic. Not to mention, It’s free and easy to use.

How to get my website to rank higher in search engines?

Apart from mixing customer keywords, your industry keywords, and adding meta-data to describe your web pages, it is utterly important to create better content compared to your competitors. Create more comprehensive web page coverage of your niche compared to your competitors and make sure your content is also mobile responsive. Work on gaining internal and external backlinks to your web pages. Lastly, pay attention to SEO and don’t forget to advertise.

Which website traffic is the best for my business?

The understanding of different types of traffic simplifies the development of a marketing strategy for your business promotion online. We cannot say that only one source of traffic can become for you a single and best channel to attract your target customers. It really depends on your industry.

Potential buyers can come to your website from an absolute variety of places. By increasing traffic in all directions, you will be able to cover the broadest audience.

Closing words on web traffic

The bottom line is, you have to figure out what you have time and money for, and where your business needs to go. Then you can focus on what you are able to, within that framework.

If you have any questions about anything covered in this article, please contact us or leave a comment below!

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