Google Analytics offers us ample information on our clients' websites. The platform has recently added new visualization features and additional insight to your site, but without proper training and understanding of the terminology, it can be tough to digest.
My clients often ask for a quick way to reference where the traffic to their site is coming from. This can get complicated, especially if the client has multiple online initiatives running simultaneously.
Thankfully, Google Analytics has a quick, ease-to-read, chart to help us decipher where the traffic is coming from. Also, if you have the data, compare year-over-year data. I always like to see if organic traffic has gone up or down. Looking at traffic from June and July this year vs. last year will give me a much better idea of actual fluctuation.
Steps to see where your traffic is coming from:
1. Log in to Analytics and select your date range. This is where we will also selected Compare to: Previous Year.
2. Once you have your dates set, go to the left-hand sidebar and click on "Acquisition" and then "Overview".
3. Next is the fun part - what does the comparison show you?
As you can see in the image above, this client's organic traffic is up nearly 40% over last year. We are looking at June and July of 2016 vs. 2015.
Of course, from an SEO's point of view, organic traffic is where we want to see the increase the most. But, we want to look at all of the possible sources bringing traffic into the site. Let me break down what all of the Google Analytics Acquisition Sources represent.
- Organic Search—Visitors who come to your website after searching Google.com and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
- Paid Search—Visitors who come to your website from an AdWords or other paid search ad (this client is running their own PPC program through AdWords. If you were not running a campaign, you would not see data here.)
- Direct—Visitors who come to your website without a traceable referral source, such as typing your URL into their address bar or using a bookmark on their browser (This is often traffic through branding efforts outside of the website or returning customers who know your address already and type it in exactly.)
- Referral—Visitors who come to your website from another website by clicking on a link (This would be directory listings like AVVO.com, Healthgrades.com, Yelp.com, etc.)
- Social—Visitors who come to your website from a social network (Make sure you are mixing up your posts on Facebook and leading fans into the website through posts linking to the site. I recommend every 2 to 3 posts should promote something on the site.)
- Other—If you use UTM parameters for custom campaign tracking, the traffic linked to those campaigns is listed here (Email campaigns, etc.)
If you don't have the data to compare year-over-year, it will still show you where the majority of your traffic is coming from. It's always exciting when the number one source of traffic is from organic searches!
What's your favorite section of the Google Analytics Acquisition section? Comment below!
~ By Brooke Henson, Senior Internet Marketing Consultant