The Grow Your Traffic challenge starts with an in-depth analysis of the current traffic situation. It's very important to know your situation before you start changing things and hope everything turns out well.
I'm on a plateau for a few weeks now, and I realized that just taking action isn't enough. I was (more or less) constantly publishing high quality content and did some very interesting interviews, but the traffic simply wouldn't increase. You need to know which things to change in order to maximize the effect of your changes.
The main tool that's explained in the Quicksprout Traffic System is Google Analytics. So if you haven't already, you need to create a free account and connect it to your blog.
You can easily follow the Google help docs to see how to properly set up everything.
To use Google Analytics on a WordPress blog I recommend the Google Analytics plugin by YoaST, which also comes with a handy installation guide.
My Traffic Sources
I was following the traffic analysis outlined in the Quicksprout Traffic System and now I want to share the results with you. This will be the foundation of all further activities to increase the traffic.
Let's start with the traffic sources. Google Analytics has a section where you can see the sources of your traffic, which is whether your visitors find your site via organic search, paid campaigns, referrals or open your site directly.
So you can see that the wast majority of my visitors finds me on Google. Obviously this diagram doesn't provide any specific information, so I further investigated in the traffic sources.
In the Traffic -> Sources -> All Traffic section within Google Analytics I found this table with statistics:
This shows that I had more than 1.5k direct visits in September, which means that my site is already known to a decent amount of people (no, I'm not visiting my own site this often).
When it comes to social media, you can see that I only had 181 visits from Facebook (desktop and mobile combined) and 47 visits from Twitter. This is going to change in October, as I'll increase my engagement on those platforms.
I already signed up to Buffer, which lets me schedule posts, tweets and status updates on LinkedIn. This way I can plan the next 10 updates upfront and focus on engaging with replies and mentions. I'm confident that I can increase the traffic from social networks reasonably in October.
What's also interesting about Google Analytics is, that you can see what keywords are entered in the searches that lead to your website. That's especially interesting for me, since I'm getting > 70% of my traffic from Google.
Unfortunately Google introduced secure search with means that searches coming from https://google.com and not http://google.com will not be reported but shown as "not provided" within Google Analytics.Those users are logged in to their Google accounts and thus, their traffic is encrypted and won't show up in Google Analytics.
But there are ways to get more information about this organic search data. In the Google Webmaster Tools you can see what search queries lead to your site. No information blocked there, so you can see all the entered keywords that are leading traffic towards your website or blog.
I hooked up my website to Google Webmaster Tools, something that you definitely need to do if you haven't yet! You can submit your sitemaps and thus make sure Google indexes all of your sites. And Google will tell you when they find problems on your site that will affect your ranking. It's a must have!
As soon as you connect your Webmaster Tools to the Google Analytics property on your website, you can see queries that show your site in the results:
The first column includes the keyword, the second column counts the impressions which are the times a user sees my website in the search results. The third columns displays the actual clicks that lead to visits on my site, the 4th column contains the CTR or Click-Through-Rate and the 5th column shows my average ranking position.
Here you can see that MyGreatOnlineBusiness got affected by the Google update in the beginning of September, as I've lost my #1 ranking. Though I'm still in the Top 5 for most of those keywords, I'm still getting a good amount of consistent traffic from Google.
What To Do With Those Keywords
Knowing your keywords is mandatory when you're optimizing your website to get more traffic. This is why you definitely should spend some time analyzing your keyword statistics.
You'll not only want to see the query statistics from Google Webmaster Tools but also the keyword statistics from Google Analytics.
Does your statistics include a keyword that surprises you? This is a HUGE opportunity to generate more traffic to your site. Create new content that's specifically focusing on this new keyword and soon you'll see your organic search traffic increasing.
Which keyword has the lowest bounce rate? And how good are you ranking for that keyword? In my statistic I can see that the keyword "best online businesses" has the lowest bounce rate on my site and that those visitors are spending by far the most time on my site. I'm going to put some more thinking into that, this is a chance to increase my traffic statistics.
Is there a keyword that you're aiming for but that doesn't generate much traffic. If that's the case, you should use a keyword tool to analyze the competition. If the competition is too high, you should consider targeting a different keyword. If the competition is quite low, you should put some efforts into backlink building or raising the quality of your content. More on that later this month.
Finding New Keywords
Are you already ranking at #1 or #2 for most of your keywords? Think of finding new keywords to drive traffic to your site. It's a high chance that increasing your ranking from #2 to #1 won't show a traffic increase that's worth the efforts.
Go through your keyword list shown by Google Analytics and try to come up with related keywords. Perform a keyword research to evaluate the competition and consider writing new content that's targeting a new keyword.
You can also use automated services to generate new keywords. Those especially work good for sites that generate traffic from very different keywords.
One service that I tested so far was Hittail. They have a WordPress plugin that can easily be installed on your blog and that's recording the keywords your visitors enter to find your site. Then it generates keywords that can potentially drive more traffic to your website. This may open new opportunities for you to attract free traffic to your site!
I cancelled Hittail after the free trial has ended because I purchased the Quicksprout Traffic System to learn the basic and advanced principles of traffic generation. But if you're just looking for new keyword suggestions, Hittail will do the job nicely.
Advanced Segments are a awesome section of Google Analytics that I didn't care about before reading Neil Patel's traffic guide. He comes up with very helpful suggestions how to use those filters to ease the analysis of your traffic.
Setting up Advanced Segments is way easier than it may sound. Open the Admin area of your Google Analytics profile and then you'll find the advanced segment area in the bottom area of the right column.
Advanced segments can be worth their weight in gold, that's why you definitely need a predefined set of those. They will come in very handy when you're analyzing your traffic in order to find necessary tweaks that increase your traffic and thus may increase your revenue.
I added segments that filter my traffic by source, e.g. Twitter or general social media. Other segments are filtering the traffic regarding keywords consisting of one, two or three words. One segment that I want to emphasize is the segment of organic and unbranded traffic.
This segment won't display any traffic that comes from organic search with keywords including "online business" or "internet business". Though these are my main keywords as you can see in the keyword statistics I shared above, I want to know how much traffic really relies on those keywords.
You can easily adapt this Advanced Segment for your needs by replacing the keywords I entered with your main keywords that are associated with your brand.
I'm searching for ways to get new visitors to my site, probably with other keywords and other topics. Probably not even with organic search, but referrals or social media.
I'm a fan of thinking out-of-the-box, so I'm always looking for creative opportunities to solve problems, open revenue streams or in this case finding new visitors.
Continuing to focus on the keywords that have worked in the past in the future will not generate more traffic on MyGreatOnlineBusiness nor will it help to leave the plateau. This is why I believe that this Advanced Segment in Google Analytics will come in pretty handy.
Evaluating The Results
The best metrics and statistics are useless when you're not evaluating them in the right way and forget to ask the right questions. Here are some questions I'm asking myself in order to get a foundation that I can use to increase my traffic:
- What traffic sources do I have?
- How do metrics like bounce rate or pages per visit vary depending on the traffic sources?
- What keywords drive the most traffic?
- What keywords are surprising me or can be good titles for a new EPIC blog post?
- What keywords have potential to be optimized either in ranking or in engagement?
- What traffic sources require the least amount of work to increase the traffic?
- What are my best landing pages?
- What social networks drive traffic to my pages and what other websites refer to my site?
- What is the relation between branded and unbranded traffic?
Those questions can serve as starting points for your own website traffic analysis. I can't wait to dig deeper into my statistics and I'm curious where I'll go from there!