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Google Analytics: Identifying the Right Types of Traffic

If you’re reading your Google Analytics report and looking for ways to boost the amount - or quality - of traffic coming to your site, there is a key area to help you work out what to focus on…

The ‘Traffic’ section of your report allows you to see how people are coming to your website, i.e., organic traffic, or referral traffic, such data can be used to then improve each of these metrics, or the ones that aren’t pulling in the traffic you may have expected, i.e. ‘paid traffic’.

What is Traffic?

‘Traffic’, in Google Analytics terms, refers to the ‘users’ or ‘visitors’ coming to your website from various sources, as broken down below. It is an all-encompassing term that describes the activity users completed to reach your website and how they arrived there. 

You can find all of your Traffic data in Google Analytics under Acquisition

Direct Traffic

These are the visitors that likely already know of you because they came to you directly, i.e. they typed your exact web address into the browser. They are likely customers, suppliers, competitors or businesses that know of you based on geographical location, for instance, they’re in the same business park as you. They could also be those that have received marketing collateral from you and are coming directly from that - i.e. your website URL is printed on a pen or flyer, or they’ve clicked a link in an ebook of yours, to go to your website.  

It is good to have healthy direct traffic numbers as it shows that someone is paying a keen interest specifically in you/your business. If people are viewing your website once and not coming back, that isn’t so great, so you need to review direct traffic in terms of repeat visitors. 

Organic Traffic

These are the people that are coming to your website via organic search results - not paid advertising on Google, Bing, etc., just organic results - so they’ve searched for terms loosely or specifically linked to you and your business has appeared in the search engine results pages and they’ve clicked on you as a relevant source of information for their search.

Healthy organic traffic numbers are great, but you should make sure that they are happy with where they’ve ended up - were you a relevant result for what they were searching for? Be sure to check out the bounce rate of your organic search traffic, to ensure that your website is relevant to this traffic group. 

Paid Traffic

Paid traffic will only come to your website if you’re running paid advertising campaigns, whether that’s paid search or paid display advertising via Google or the Microsoft Advertising (Bing) networks, for instance.

You should monitor paid traffic and their activity on your site to ensure that your ads are pointing visitors to the right website URL - or are there better landing pages for your visitors? Take a look at Bounce Rate, Page/Session and Average Session Duration for insights into how effective and relevant your paid ads are - and if, ultimately, paid advertising is providing a fair return on investment.

Social Traffic

Similar to Referral Traffic, but specific to those who have found you via links on social media platforms, Social Traffic showcases the effectiveness of your social media presence.  All of your organic and paid social media efforts (simple posts on your Twitter feed, to complex paid ads on Facebook, for instance) are gathered under the Social Traffic heading - so it’s important to spend time looking deeper into this metric, via Google Analytics and your specific social platform’s metrics and insights.

Click into Social under your Acquisition - Traffic panel within Google Analytics to see specific metrics for each platform, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. you will get insights into the effectiveness of your social media presence, the engagement and interest level of your social media audience. For instance, do they just like your cute graphics on Instagram, or are they truly interested in your business’ offering? Review Bounce Rate, Page/Session and Average Session Duration for each platform to get a fair assessment of how each of your audiences on social is engaged with your business. 


Referral Traffic

These are visits that come from other websites, i.e. if you’re listed in online directories, or have published a guest post on another site. Referral Traffic is essentially important for SEO ranking as it can verify your relevance and reliability for the subject matter you’re hoping to rank for. For instance, if other credible, relevant websites are linking to you Google can confirm that you’re a reliable source of information for your specific topic, and therefore is happy to boost your ranking in the search results (as a very basic explanation!).

This can be lower for some organisations, but you should take time to review this traffic and discover the websites that are listing you as a source, as it can have a real impact on your SEO performance. It can also highlight the referring websites that you should build a stronger relationship with if they’re pointing good traffic to you. ‘Good traffic’ can be identified as traffic having a low bounce rate, high page/session and/or high average session duration performance.

Get to Know Your Google Analytics Dashboard...

If you’re hoping to learn more about your website performance and traffic breakdown, it can be worthwhile to take a look at Google’s Skillshop training videos. Alternatively, Thrive is happy to provide a reporting service as an add-on to our website management or marketing solutions. 

Why not quiz us on the importance of reviewing your Google Analytics? Call 01325 778 786 or email hello@thriveability.co.uk

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