Website Traffic Sources
There are 3 ways for a visitor to find this website:
- Direct: These are visitors that come to the website by typing the URL address into the address bar. Or it could be that somebody sent them a link to this website in an email. Another possibility is that they have this website as one of their favorites.
- Referral: These are visitors that arrived from another website - the website has a link to this one and somebody clicked on it. The referring website can be anything - a blog, website, directory, or forum. Basically any page on the internet that links back to this website.
- Search Engine: When somebody does a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc. and the results return this website, and the link is clicked, then the visitor arrived via a search engine. Another name for it is organic traffic.
Traffic Sources (%)
When this website started there was no traffic. The first thing I did to get traffic was frequent forums and blogs. I contributed to forums with a signature linking back to this website. People who enjoyed my contributions clicked on the signature and visited this site. I also left comments on blogs. The comments had a link back to this website. These two methods created all the traffic to this site for the first month.
During the first month little traffic was received from search engines because it takes time for the search engines to index the site and start sending traffic. This website received only 10 visitors from Google and that was near the end of the month.
I am not sure where the direct traffic came from in the first month. A guess would be from people that, instead of clicking on the link in forums or blogs, they copy and paste the link to their address bar. Another possibility is that people emailed the link to their friends.
As you can see from the graph for the first few months most traffic was from referrals – my forums and blog comments. Then around month 4 things start to even out. More search engines indexed this website and started to send traffic. Around month 4 direct traffic also increases because more people have the website as a favorite, or on their RSS reader, or get a Tweet.
Try to Maintain An Even Balance Between Traffic Sources
The goal is to have an even balance between all the traffic sources. You do not want to be too dependent on search engine traffic or referral traffic. As with any good business you want diversity so that you can make it through hard times. For example, Google might decide to lower your search ranking - your search traffic will suddenly drop. But if you have good referral traffic then you will not be hit too hard waiting for Google to start sending traffic again.
For the first 6 months when traffic is low small things can make a big difference on your traffic source ratio. For instance, during month 7 (July 2009) this website was on redit.com – this created a big boost for referral traffic. The traffic was nice but did not last. The other negative was that it screwed up my balanced traffic source ratio for the month. But hopefully when this website receives traffic in the 1000's per day the traffic source ratio will be evenly balanced and not drastically affected by gratuitous spurts caused by social networks.
Increasing the Source Traffic to Maintain a Balance
Traffic sources are not created equal. Keeping them in balance is like juggling a knife, a torch and a banana - each requires specific techniques depending on the traffic source you want to increase. You want to increase your search engine traffic but it takes time and patience. You need to accumulate backlinks and improve SEO. The effects are not immediate, there is a time lag, but the benefits do come. I am always looking for quality backlinks and improving my SEO. As a result I have been consistently rewarded with ever increasing search engine traffic.
Increasing referral traffic has no lag time. As soon as you make a great comment on a blog, or make a good guest post, traffic comes. You are rewarded immediately. So when you notice referral traffic lagging behind you can start to remedy the problem – make a guest post, visit forums, make comments on blogs, submit your site to a social network.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can specifically do to increase direct traffic. But usually you do not need to. Direct traffic is tied in with the other two traffic sources. When referral and search engine traffic increases direct traffic increases naturally.
Search Engine Traffic Always Needs Improvement
The best way to spend your time is increasing your search engine traffic; especially, if you want to make money with your site. Search engine traffic is targeted traffic – Google sends you traffic believing your site is the best result for what the visitor is looking for. This turns into more page views, more clicks and consequently more money.
And the best part is that the search engines do all the hard work for you. They find people and send them to your site. You simply sit back and watch as they come in droves to your site. Your only duty is to make sure the site is running properly.
For the first 7 months search engine traffic lagged behind the other sources of traffic. There is one main reason for this – increasing search engine traffic takes time. Hopefully, by continuing to build backlinks and improving SEO search engine traffic will continue to increase. I look forward to the day that search engine traffic overtakes the other traffic sources.
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