Let’s start off by stating we’d all like our websites to generate tens of thousands of hits a day (albeit, maybe not the system admins). With traffic like that we’d be rich - surely! Assuming some of these users buy something or click an advert, of course. If not, then you’ll just have a nice, big hosting bill to pay.
The point is that traffic is only useful if it is relevant; a bot crawling your website or a user clicking the wrong link are nothing more than meaningless numbers arbitrarily growing the egos of the marketing and SEO managers responsible for increasing said traffic.
The purpose of this article is to take a look at the notion that sometimes, less is more, and how it’s all about quality over quantity when it comes to web traffic.
What constitutes as valuable traffic?
This is a good question and one that marketing directors have waged battles over since the turn of the century. Unfortunately, the simple answer is you can’t.
With the marketing tools at your disposal, it is impossible to focus your website solely at ‘valuable traffic’ because you will always alienate someone who would have spent money on you and capture the interest of a lot more whose purse strings will never loosen. The trick is to make sure you’re achieving all of the easy wins; lay the groundwork, make sure you filter out as much useless data as you can, and accept that not everyone visiting your website is going to convert into money.
Why do I need to filter out the junk?
I will always remember the first time I set up a Google Analytics account. I checked the website daily, and the analytics hourly, hoping to see traffic numbers jumping up. It was a hobbyist website and the traffic was going up in single figures per week but I was still massively proud. That was until I did some more in-depth analysis and worked out almost all of the traffic was coming from the same town (my town) and at the same time of day (around about the time I’d get home from college to check the site). Once I filtered out my own IP address I saw a decline in traffic of around 80% - but at least it explained why none of the blog posts had been shared!
The point of my rambling anecdote is simple: spam bots and your employees are unlikely to buy your services, so why are you recording their visits? The first thing you should do on any new website venture is ensure your Google Analytics filters are set up to prevent this kind of data slipping through, as you’ll only end up regretting it if you don’t.
If you’re not sure how to go about filtering this kind of information, you can learn how to remove spam here.
Ok, I’ve filtered my analytics. What’s next?
One of the largest challenges in digital marketing is achieving strong search rankings. It is so difficult in fact, that it has spawned not one, but two entire industries dedicated to either helping achieve it (SEO) or side stepping around it (PPC).
Due to the search ranking challenge, keyword research has become essential to any website launch. If you don’t target your website at the right keywords, you won’t attract the right traffic.
Let’s say you’re a start-up business selling private two-person flights over London - a new angle on sight seeing. So you go to Google and ask them for some keyword ideas and they come back with the following:
Wow, amazing! Over 65,000 searches a month and they all contain two of your keywords! Let’s say you somehow manage to achieve first-place rankings in Google for all three terms; you would likely see website traffic increase by upwards of 20,000 views a month. Mission accomplished - sit back and let the money roll in.
Except it isn’t going to happen like that. Even if you were to miraculously achieve first-place ranking for all three terms and increase your traffic by thousands of views per month, the traffic you have landing on your site are looking for flights TO London, not private sightseeing flights over London. At best, you’ll achieve a few conversions from rich tourists, but what is more likely is that you’ll struggle to rank against large airline websites, and the few clicks you do get will bounce rapidly with no conversion.
Unless you happen to be British Airways or Easyjet, you’re unlikely to be sporting the kind of PageRank or Domain Authority you would need to rank for such terms, even if they did happen to provide the appropriate kind of traffic for you. This is where the ‘long-tail’ keyword comes in.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that epitomise the concept of quality over quantity. Instead of targeting vague, higher traffic terms, you aim for specifics, knowing full well that you’ll achieve smaller volumes of traffic but with a higher chance of conversion. For example, if you were to sell football kits for a particular Championship team then you may think a strong keyword would be ‘cheap football kits’, and assuming you manage to rank for this, I’m sure it would generate a few conversions. However, ‘Charlton Football Kit 2015’ is likely to be a lot easier to rank for, and someone looking for a specific kit of a specific team is far more likely to convert than someone who is just browsing football kits.
So, I should filter my analytics and be realistic with my keywords. Anything else?
Well now that you mention it, your backlinks could probably use some work too.
Your link profile is one of the most important traffic driving factors, as links to your website will make up significant amounts of traffic in their own right, as well as influencing your organic (search engine) rankings. However, sticking with the theme of this article, more isn’t always the best approach.
'Oh my god! You’ve never seen anything as crazy as this video before!'
We’ve all seen links like this, tempting us into clicking with the promise of shock and awe. There’s a term for these links, ‘clickbait’, and they’re the perfect example of more not always being better.
The simple premise underneath it all is this: If your users are misled into arriving on your site, they are unlikely to find the information they were hoping to find, and are therefore unlikely to stay.
Beyond setting up filters within Google Analytics, carrying out thorough keyword research and tidying up your backlinks, there are infinitely more levels to improving conversion tracking than those described here, and as a digital marketing agency, we take great pride in finding innovative approaches to fuel conversion rates for our clients.
For now, the above techniques should help you get on track to target quality traffic. Yes, your visitor numbers may decrease, but don’t get caught up on those figures, because the real value is in your budding conversion stats.