What is Website Traffic?

Like millions of Americans, you probably wake up Monday morning, grab a cup of coffee and turn on the local morning news for the daily update while you get ready for work. Some of us wait patiently for the local weather and some watch for the newest “bombshell” evidence in the latest political scandal. However, when the news anchor mentions the highway we use to get to work, all of our ears perk up and we focus on what they’re saying. That’s because it can only mean one thing – traffic.

Luckily, we aren’t talking about that kind of traffic today. Traffic, in the online context, is referring to the flow of users on any particular website at a given time. In other words, traffic is simply people. It’s not a coincidence that we use the term “traffic” to describe where people are when looking at users on the information highway.

Is Website Traffic Important?

Yes, very important! Like I said before, traffic is simply a term we internet geeks use to describe volumes of people on a website, app or other platforms. Having no traffic coming to your website is like having a billboard in the middle of a densely populated forest. No matter how beautiful your website is, no one would ever see it.

Fortunately, thanks to search engines, social media, and the interconnected nature of the internet, steering traffic to your website can be achieved! There are many different ways to get traffic, but the truth is that not all traffic is created equal. There are six main types of website traffic and they each have their own pros and cons.

Types of Traffic

#1: Organic Traffic

Massive organic traffic is what we all hope for when we build a website. It’s the website traffic you get when someone goes to a search engine like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo looking for information or products and types in a keyword. Google then displays a list of relevant articles or products, and they click through to visit. For example, say someone searches for “types of internet traffic” on Google. Because this article is filled with those keywords and relevant information, it would probably show up for that search. This article would also have to have a higher “ranking” over competing articles to show up higher on the list of results. The list of those results are called a Search Engine Results Page (or SERP).

This kind of traffic is wonderful for your business because it is free and has the potential to reach a huge audience of interested people. The downside, however; is that every time you search anything, there are going to be millions of other websites all competing to show up on the first page. Over time we can begin to rank for relevant keywords and show up on the first page with the proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, but it can take a lot of time to actually bear fruit.

#2: Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is when someone inputs the URL (domain address) of a website into the search bar and goes directly to that site. If you want to watch funny cat videos, you probably do what I do, which is type “youtube.com” directly into the search bar instead of searching Google for funny cat videos. Also, most people go Zillow.com to search for home sales instead of searching Google or Bing. We recognize these direct visitors as those who are already familiar with your name and website address.  

The upside is you know that when someone inputs your URL directly, they are probably already familiar with your organization and interested in what is on your website! The downside is that unless you have a well-branded company and a very popular domain name, you can’t count on this type of traffic. This traffic will increase as your company and brand grows.

You can increase direct traffic by placing your website domain on all of your marketing materials, business cards, social media, email signatures and anything else that you send out or give away.

#3: Paid Traffic

Paid traffic refers to users who find your website through paid internet advertising. Google AdWords is one of the most commonly used services for pay-per-click campaigns (PPC), but there are also advertising services on LinkedIn, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, and various other social media sites.

This type of traffic is great because it allows us to put a billboard up on some of the most densely populated websites and direct visitor traffic directly to our site. Also, it allows us to target the kind of people we want to visit to our site in a very precise way so that we can pay to have the most interested and qualified people visit our site.

A big downside to this method of traffic acquisition – it can be expensive. If done right, however; you can make the most of your traffic and generate visitors, leads and profits very fast.

#4: Email Marketing / Social Media Traffic

I have decided to combine these two methods because they are both contingent on content creation and both are digital assets that you may have previously built up. If you have an email marketing strategy, you will most likely be sending out multiple emails to your distribution list every month with a combination of valuable content and offers of your products or services. Creating engaging content that people need and adding a link in your email to this website content (articles, infographics, downloads) will help your established community visit your site and increase your website traffic.

Likewise, with social media, if you are creating content and building up a following, you should have a link to your website in your profile, postings, and other social comments. When you publish blog articles, videos, or other information on your website, plan on informing your social networks by including your website URL as you post.

A upside to this traffic method is that with social media you are essentially setting up shop in an environment that is already filled with traffic, and, therefore, it is easier to get people to follow your profile. 

The downside to this method is that it takes a lot of time and work to build up these networks with enough content and followers to actually get a significant amount of traffic from them — and building a large list of email subscribers takes time.

#6: Referral Traffic

Referral traffic relies on having a stellar link-building strategy. Referral traffic is measured by users who land on your website from external links clicked while visiting other websites. These links are called “Backlinks” because they link back to your website. 

Let’s say you partner with a company who places your content or other information logo on their website. If that logo links back to your website and a user clicks on it, you have just gained a bit of referral traffic. This is a common practice when a company sponsors an event or charity. Another way to earn referral traffic is to create high-quality content and have symbiotic partner websites share or host it on their site.

By creating shareable content, you can earn lots of backlinks, and therefore referral traffic, back to your website. Just keep in mind that links from social media websites are not considered backlinks by Google, and, therefore, won’t impact your SEO rankings.

All Traffic is Not Created Equal

As you now know, there are many different types of website traffic that you can take advantage of. The trouble comes in deciding the right traffic strategy, or combination of strategies, that will work best for your online goals and budget.

Here at Local View, we have experience with all of the aforementioned types of traffic and more. If you are interested in learning about which type of traffic will best fit your online marketing goals or want to explore our full suite of marketing services, then please request our Digital Marketing Evaluation.

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