Many websites talk about what you should or should not do online, but rarely can you see it backed up with actual legitimate performance graphs so we’ve decided to post some of our observations taken directly from our Google Analytics account. What did we find?
Organizations that spend the time to actively participate and improve their website presence see the most success in harnessing the website’s ability to work for them around the clock.
Let’s analyze some stats. Certain types of sites show stats that reflect their field. These first couple graphs are from seasonal businesses. The traffic activity bulks up in summer months and thins out over the winter months as we would expect for a seasonal business that can’t work when there’s snow on the ground and everything is frozen solid.
This business is open during the week and closed on weekends, which is when the website receives most of it’s traffic. Each dip is a weekend. Perhaps visitors mainly need their phone number, it’s hard to tell without further analysis.
This chart is more extreme and illustrates two ad campaigns that brought visitors to the website during the campaign period.
This illustrates a more subtle campaign from April to June which boosted their overall website traffic and may have added a bit of residual traffic into July and August.
This tells us that things are working as we expect and predict would happen. When it comes to advertising, remember to also talk to your customers, “How did you hear about us?”, then correlate it to your stats. We can also use some programming techniques to track campaigns in more detail. The statistics then reflect the activity and confirm or reject what you think is happening allowing you to evaluate and re-focus your efforts.
One part people frequently overlook is that you can more effectively track your advertising with specific web pages that mirror the original advertisement. These need to be stored on your own website and are called Landing Pages. We use landing pages to separate who visited the website under normal circumstances, versus who visited the website but came in from the campaign. The type of campaign like a print campaign, an email campaign or from online ads can all be tracked separately with different landing pages. We store them on your actual site so that the boost in traffic also boosts the overall rankings of your site (everything is tied together in one place in the most effective and beneficial way). If hosted elsewhere, landing pages are not going to be nearly as effective because they would get ranked by search engines separate of your site. This is also why responsive web design is so popular, you no longer have a separate mobile site, everything is tied together to produce the most benefit. We’ll talk more about responsive web design in an upcoming article.
The majority of a typical website’s “natural” or “organic” traffic ends up at the home page first as shown in this chart of our site traffic. If you run a campaign that sends visitors to the home page, they get mixed in with those 324 people and you can’t tell who’s who anymore.
By incorporating landing pages into your campaign, such as “mysite.com/august-special” the stats will separate anyone who visited the August Special page from the home page in the left column. Then gray lines will connect to pages they visit after that. The trick here is we DON’T put the landing page in with the regular, publicly visible website (there’s no direct link to it from within the website). We make it hidden. That’s how we can separate the traffic and track whether the advertising is drawing visitors into your website through the landing page versus other pages and illustrate traffic patters of what your guest might click on next. Make sure to link the landing page to the rest of your site. After all, the visitor might want to learn more from your regular site.
Simply driving traffic might be fine for a blog, but sometimes you want your efforts to convert into sales, or trigger a visitor to contact you to schedule an appointment. The next most important thing you can do is offer your guest a compelling reason (on the landing page) to sign up or contact you. Many places will offer exclusive discounts ONLY available via that one page, so the visitor (1) must have seen the ad, and (2) actually wanted to connect with you to receive the benefit.
But advertising can get expensive and the effectiveness varies, especially for smaller companies. So if you find you’re having trouble with your campaigns, it could be due to the website itself, not necessarily your advertising. We frequently promote that “content is king” and advertising should be treated as a supplement to quality content. Not the reverse.
Out of our selection of websites that we host, we see that ultimately statistics show the “content is king” mentality is true. Valuable information and fresh, original information brings more visitors to your site over anything else. Our customers that focus on their writing and the way they present information, who continually publish new materials to their website, and vary their advertising methods, do in fact have higher overall traffic. You are the expert and are the best person to do this.
Here are graphs of the activity of one of our larger sites where they dedicate their efforts to posting materials online as compared to smaller sites that do not update their site as often.
Monthly activity from a website with about 50+ pages of information:
Monthly activity from a website with about 10 pages:
Monthly activity from a website with 2 pages (an introduction and contact page only):
The site providing over 50 pages of useful information to their visitors will get the best overall traffic naturally and they can use that as a solid foundation to supplement their marketing strategy. Google recently modified their ranking system, so the slight dip correlates to that change, but overall the website activity still remains relatively constant.
The key is to keep publishing new and useful information that people actually need or want to read. Information about you, your product, or service or things you find interesting. Focus on your website content first and above all else, it should be what you’re visitors are interested in reading, it is the foundation from which you build upon and go from a visit here or there, to a truly engaging, interactive experience, that benefits everyone.