Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

The Google Analytics “Traffic Sources” section can help ecommerce marketers understand how well campaigns are working and how better to invest in site content, advertising, or other forms of engagement.

Google Analytics is a free service that uses cookies — which we explain in “Cookies Make Shoppers Feel Welcome” — to monitor how visitors are interacting with a particular site. The Traffic Sources overview and its various sub-menu items describe how visitors are getting to your site.

3 Basic Traffic Mediums

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section categorizes your site traffic as “direct” traffic, “referring” traffic, or “search engine” traffic.

The Traffic Sources report places each visit in one of three mediums.
The Google Analytics Traffic Sources
  • Direct traffic. Direct traffic represents those visitors that arrive directly and immediate on your site by: (1) typing your URL into the browser’s address bar; (2) clicking on a bookmark; or (3) clicking on a link in an email, SMS, or chat message. Direct traffic is a strong indicator of your brand strength and your success in email or text message marketing. Direct traffic can also be an indicator of offline marketing success. We offer our views on the benefits of direct traffic at “Direct Traffic is Better than Google Traffic.”
  • Referring traffic. Referring site traffic, which is sometimes called referrer traffic or referral traffic, counts those visitors that click a link on another site and land on your site. Referral traffic can be indicative of social media marketing success.
  • Search engine traffic. Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page for any search engine — whether Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Blekko, or similar. This traffic source is divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic — meaning that the visitor clicked on a so-called natural search result — and CPC or paid search engine traffic, which is the traffic you purchase (via pay-per-click ads_ from search engines. Search engine traffic usually indicates that you have good or at least reasonably good content. It also can mean that you have chosen a good software platform. Be sure to learn which keywords are driving this traffic. Multi-channel merchants, as an example, may find that their brand name is a key search term. When this is the case, offline marketing is usually the real traffic driver.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

Selecting “All Traffic Sources” from Google Analytics left-side navigation will show you a table listing the most active traffic sources and their medium. Direct traffic, as you would expect, has a medium of “none.” Traffic from Facebook, as an example, will have a medium of “referral.” Search engine traffic will have a medium or “organic” or “CPC” as described above.

Sometimes you will see a search engine domain, like Google.com, with the medium “referral.” This indicates that the site sent you traffic from a page other than a search engine results page. This could be a link from a Google+ account or some other Google service.

Interpreting the Traffic Sources Report

Of course, data — not interpreted and analyzed — will be unable to inform your marketing planning or investment. So take the excellent information found in the Traffic Sources section and discern what it says about a website and that site’s marketing.

Put another way, looking only at the sources that drove the most traffic will not tell you anything about why visitors are coming or whether the site is meeting expectations or making sales. Rather, you need to look at traffic sources in context in order to properly interpret them.

Using Bounce Rate with Traffic Sources

Start by navigating to the “All Traffic Sources” sub-menu. Notice the site’s “bounce rate” for the selected time period.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

The bounce rate measures the percentage of site traffic that resulted in a single page visit. A visitor landed on the site and left without clicking to any other page. Comparing a source’s bounce rate to other sources and the site average can be a good indicator of a source’s compatibility, and it will help with some marketing campaigns.

To see this in your Traffic Sources section, switch your analytics view from “table” to “comparison” by selecting the comparison icon on the right side of the page.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

Set the “compared to site average” drop down to “Bounce” so that a source’s visits and bounce rates are compared to the site average for bounce rate.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

In the example below, Google’s organic results generated the most site traffic for the time period shown, but had a bounce rate that was greater than the site average. By contrast direct traffic generated fewer visits, but had a lower than average bounce rate. A page from another website, generated 5,946 visits but had a bounce rate 22.62 percent less than the site average.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

So what does this mean? “Bounce rate” can be thought of as a measure of engagement. If visitors are moving around your site, they are engaged. If they are bouncing, they cannot think of a good reason to stay. There is one notable exception to this: Blogs, videos, and news sites often have higher bounce rates because a visitor reads a particular article or watches a video and then leaves. For an ecommerce site, however, you would like to see relative low bounce rates. Sources that bounce a lot are probably not providing quality traffic.

You can apply this to marketing in a few ways. If, for example, you purchase paid search advertising, you’ll want to make sure those “CPC” sources have generally low bounce rates. If a pay-per-click or cost-per-click campaign has a high bounce rate (1) check your landing page to make sure that it provides the content promised in your ad, (2) check your ad copy to ensure it is clear, and (3) check your keywords.

Bottom line, if a source has a high bounce rate, the site is probably not relevant to what the visitor clicked on.

Use Average Time on Site with Traffic Sources

Another good metric to follow in the Traffic Sources section is the “average time on site” compared to visits comparison view. This report can be found under “All Traffic Sources,” in the comparison view. In fact, this is the same place as I directed you to go for bounces, only select “Avg. Time on Site” from the drop down menu.

Switch the drop down menu to "Avg. Time on Site" for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Switch the drop down menu to “Avg. Time on Site” for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Google measures average time on site by first collecting each visitor’s exact time on a particular page. Imagine that a visitor lands on page 1 of your site. Google places a cookie, including a unique code for the visitor and a time stamp. When that visitor clicks through to page 2 of your site, Google again notes the time, and then subtracts the time that the visitor arrived at page 2 from the time that the visitor arrived at page 1. Google then averages each and every page’s time spent to get the average time each visitor spends on the site.

It is worth noting that a visitor must click to at least one additional page for Google to capture the time spent. When a visitor bounces, Google does not include the bounced page in this calculation.

A source's performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

A source’s performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

In the example above, Google organic results drove the most total traffic for the time period in view. But the Google organic traffic source forwarded visitors that spent an average of 31.39 less time on the site than the average. Visitors coming directly to the site, by contrast, spent 51.31 percent more time on site than average.

With average time on site, it is worth taking the analysis a step deeper. Try (1) clicking on one of the individual traffic sources, (2) selecting the comparison view, and (3) setting the dimension to “keyword.”

 

Dimensions can be found in a drop down menu at the top left of the comparison view and serve to further refine the Traffic Sources section.]

This section is particularly helpful when looking at organic results from search engines, since it will let you know which search queries resulted in engaged traffic. Below is another example from a site that focuses on electronic components. Overall, the Google organic source was well behind the site average, but some specific search queries were actually performing better than average.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

For marketing, try to monitor the traffic sources that provide visitors who spend the most time on site. For example, if you notice that Twitter is sending visitors that spend a few minutes on each page, it would be worth investigating the site’s Twitter presence.

Summing Up

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section monitors which sources are sending traffic to a site and — with a bit of interpretation — this data can be used to measure the quality of traffic being sent.

Armed with this information, ecommerce marketers can learn why some sources might be under-performing or focus efforts on sources that drive better quality traffic. In some cases, this might mean relying less on search engines and more on social media or brand awareness. Other times the opposite could be the best course of action. Either way, the Traffic Sources section in Google Analytics can help.

Source: Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

100 Unique and Useful Websites on the Internet (Updated)

Social Positive's 100 Unique and Useful Websites on the Internet
100 Unique and Useful Websites on the Internet

* This post first appeared on Social Positives on 15th May 2015.

The Internet is a global network connecting millions of computers and users together. Billions of users are surfing millions of websites, blogs everyday.

 The Internet is an amazing source and they offer some useful websites for the users. If you visit a website that might be useful and interesting for you but another one feels that’s not special.
 

We already published the list of 75 websites. Today we have to update the site to the best 100. We have removed some outdated websites and added more websites. Here we go.

1. Alexa.com – The web information company provides commercial web traffic data for everyone.

2. SpeedTest.net – Easy way to test your broadband speed.

3. Iconfinder – Free Icon search engine.

4. Archive.org – The wayback machine to see how the website looks in the past.

5. FlightStats.com – Global Flight Tracker and Travel Planning.

6. Imgur.com – Worlds greatest image hosting and sharing service.

7. Askboth.com – One search and get results from Google, Bing and Twitter

8. Wolframalpha.com – Computation knowledge engine.

9. StatsCrop.com – Free Website Analyzer

10. RankSignals.com – Free Backlink checker, can easily categorize nofollow, dofollow, hot links for your website.

11. GTMetrix.com – Check your websites speed.

12. Sleepytyi.me – The Bedtime calculator.

13. Snapito.com – Take full-length website screenshots.

14. WordCounterTool.com – Accurate word counter and also can use to test your typing speed.

15. SmallSEOTools.com – Prefect plagiarism checker.

16. Xmarks.com – A powerful tool to Bookmark, Sync and Search.

17. TwitterFeed.com – Create feeds and connect with your Twitter account, Facebook profile or pages and LinkedIn profile.

18. ManageFlitter.com – Advanced Twitter profile management tool.

19. Paper.li – News curation platform. Become a news publisher with paper.li and Twitter.

20. Ustream.tv – Worlds best and easiest way to stream live video.

21. Zamzar.com – Online file conversion site that works for hundreds of formats.

22. Google Translate –  Translate texts just typing or as a document.

23. Vocaroo.com – Simple online voice recorder and you can download in different formats.

24. Cutmp3.net – Easily cut MP3 files online.

25. Similarsites.com – Find similar websites that you liked.

26. PaperRater.com – Free online grammar and spelling check.

27. Keybr.com – How fast you are typing? Check your speed with Keybr.

28. Pastebin.com – Pastebin is a website where you can store text online for a set period of time.

29. IsitDownRightNow.com – Check your favorite websites whether they are down or not.

30. PeekYou.com – Free people search engine. To find your friends other Social Network profiles by username, first name or last name.

31. MyIPAddress.com – Figure out your I.P. address.

32. MailStrom.co – Widely used tool to clean Email Inboxes. Mailstrom works with Gmail, Google Apps Email, Outlook, Apple, AOL, Exchange IMAP and any other email service that supports IMAP.

33. ProxySite.com – Access any website on the Internet quickly and without giving up your privacy.

34. Google Drive – Save  photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos starts you with 15 GB of freeGoogle online storage.

35. WooRank – One of the most popular Website Review and SEO Tool. You can an create an advanced review to track and optimize your website.

36. PDFmyURL.com – Convert any URL or Webpage to PDF online.

37. TrueCaller.com – Truecaller will completely transform your mobile phonebook experience with a smarter set of features that will improve your daily life.

38. XE.com – You can calculate live currency and foreign exchange rates with this free currency converter.

39. Mint.com – With Mint you can see all your balances and transactions together. Mint automatically pulls all your financial information into one place, so you can finally get the entire picture.

40. OldVersion.com –  OldVersion.com has been supplying the online community with old versions of various programs.

41. Squirt.io – Speed read the web one word at a time.

42. Duckduckgo.com – The search engine that doesn’t track you.

43. Goo.gl – Url shortener from Google. Allows you to track, in real-time, the clicks and referrers. You can see your existing links and avoid duplication.

44. StumbleUpon – Website discovery engine. A collection of best pages on the Internet.

45. About.me – A complete professional page about you.

46. Evernote – Save your notes for lifetime.

47. ResizeYourImage.com – Resize your image, it's free and easy.

48. GoogleWebDesigner –  A free and easy tool to create animated, 3 HTML5 Ads in minutes.

49. MyFonts.com – Fonts for prints, products and screens. Determine the font name from an image.

50. QRStuff.com – Free Online QR code generator.

51. OnlineConcersion.com – Convert anything to anything.

52. Plaxo.com – Plaxo helps you to organize, manage, and access your contacts in one place.

53. MiiCard.com – Your online internet identity.

54. WeTransfer.com – Share big files for free and secure. Can send up to 2GB in a single time.

55. PrivNote.com – Send notes that will self-destruct after being read.

56. Join.me – Free screen sharing with anyone on the web.

57. IMDb.com – Especially for movie lovers. To find who has been in which film and what the name of that actor is.

58. TypingWeb.com – Learn to type. Free typing tutor and lessons.

59. TwitLonger.com – Send tweets longer than 140 characters.

60. TwitterSpirit.com – Set an expiration date or time to your Twitter tweets.

61. HootSuite.com – Manage multiple social networks from a single dashboard.

62. Quora.com – Source for knowledge. Question and Answer Website.

63. LeanDomainSearch.com – Domain searching tool that helps users to find their favorite domains related domains easily with one click. Lean Domain Search shows thousands of related domains that are available to register.

64. PayPal – Worlds faster and secure online money transferring system. Pay and get paid.

65. Who.is – Find information on any domain name or website.

66. Safeweb.norton.com – Is your website? Look up a site and get the rating.

67. Unfurlr.com – Find the original link behind the short link.

68. PushBullet.com – Connect your Personal computer, Tablet or Smartphone and share, images, texts, files etc.

69. RandomCodeGenerator.com – This tool can generate up to 100.000 unique random codes at a time.

70. DMCA.com – Protect your content.

71. Cnet.com – Tech News, Product Reviews, secure software downloads etc.

72. OnlineChartTool.com – On Onlinecharttool.com you can design and share your own charts online and for free.

73. WpThemeDetector – WordPress Theme Detector is the perfect free online tool to find out WordPress theme or plugins is that awesome site using.

74. HTML.am –  You can find all things HTML – from HTML codes, HTML editors, HTML generators and more.

75. Pixabay.com – You can use any Pixabay image without attribution in digital and printed form, even for commercial purposes.

76. Klout.com – Check your social media score.

77. IGLOMovies.com – Watch free movies. You can find the latest most popular movie titles on the site.

78. BugMeNot.com – Enter a website to see if the bugmenot community has shared any logins for it.

79. Scr.im – Convert your email address into a short, safe link you can share on the web,

80. GetNotify.com – Free email tracking service to check whether or not your sent email gets read by the recipient.

81. TinEye.com – Best reverse image search engine.

82. Noteflight.com – Print music sheets and write your own music online.

83. FaxZero.com –  Send faxes to US and Canada for free.

84. StickK.com – StickK offers you the opportunity, through ‘Commitment Contracts’, to show to yourself and others the value you put on achieving your goals.

85. Boxoh.com – Boxoh can track your USPS, UPS, FedEx, or DHL/Airborne packages.

86. PicMonkey.com – Simple free online image editor.

87. Yammer.com – Private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business apps.

88. Sync.in – Sync.in is a web based word processor for people to collaborate in real-time.

89. ScribbleMaps.com – ScribbleMaps allows you to create custom maps, widgets, and images.

90. Fiverr.com – Hire people to complete small tasks for $5.

91. Tripit.com – TripIt organizes your travel plans in one place. Finds alternative flights. Sends real-time alerts.

92. FitDay.com – Track and analyze your nutrition, weight loss, diet and fitness over the web. Its free and private.

93. WunderList.com – you’re planning a holiday, sharing a shopping list with a partner or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist will help you.

94. Fuelly.com – Understanding your fuel consumption and vehicle’s actual costs can help you save big money.

95. Kiva.org – Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

96. Mixlr.com – Mixlr is a simple way to share live audio online.

97. ShoeBoxApp.com – Free unlimited photo storage, so you can rediscover your photos anywhere. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac and PC.

98. Mathway.com – Free math problem solver answers your algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics homework.

99. CalorieKing.com – CalorieKing has the weight control tools most recommended by health professionals.

100. CamelCamelCamel.com – Amazon price tracker monitors millions of products and alerts you when prices drop, helping you decide when to buy.

 

About Mohammed Anzil

I'm Mohammed Anzil, Founder of SocialPositives.com and CoFounder of AndroidConnections.com. SEO, Link Builder & Blogger. More Interested in Social Media and Networking. Contributor on SocialMediaToday.com, web's best thinkers on social technology.

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