Picture this scenario…
You enter a Sporting Goods Store and ask an associate where you can find the camping equipment section. You are in need of a tent for your upcoming camping trip, plus you’re in a big hurry. It’s your lunch break and you only have a short window of time before you are due back at work. You are there to find your tent, quickly buy it and get back to the office. The associate directs you all the way to the back of the store and to the far right. You follow the instructions and arrive at the destination you were just sent to. You look around for camping equipment, only to find nothing close to that. Instead, you see golf clubs, golf bags, putters, etc. Confused and agitated you scan the store for a sales associate to help you find what you are actually looking for, but sadly no one is around to assist you and the store is so big, you literally have no clue where to go. Tick tock, tick tock goes your watch; a clear reminder that you are in a hurry. Finally, you let out a disappointed sigh and walk out of the store without making a purchase.
This above scenario, while obviously hypothetical, is very similar to what happens far too often in the online world. If I had a dime for every time I click on a pay per click ad and get directed to a page that is completely irrelevant, I’d be rich. Well, maybe not rich, but I’d have a whole lot of dimes. The bottom line is this…shame on you if you are spending good money on pay per click traffic, yet sending potential shoppers to irrelevant pages. If my search query is campaign equipment, the ad I then click on should absolutely be just that.
Some retailers prefer to send everyone to their home page, no matter what their search query, which is essentially like making your visitors conduct their search all over again. Why would you do that? You want it to be a “win win” experience. In other words, a win for you; you captured the visitor’s attention to get him to click on your ad in the first place; a win for the visitor, since he was sent to the appropriate page he was searching for. Everyone’s happy and there is a much more likely chance of this visitor converting into a sale if you make the process a seamless one.
If you think it makes little to no difference where you send your paid visitors to, I encourage you to run a test utilizing different landing pages. The outcomes should speak for themselves.
So you’re getting a lot of traffic to your website. That’s great! A good amount of your website’s traffic is converting. Awesome! You’re even getting some returning visitors to your site, and they are buying things, too! What could be better than this? (Of course, you could say “Winning the Lottery!”, but that’s not realistic).
The first question that comes to mind about your website’s traffic is usually “Where is the traffic coming from?”, or some variation of that. This is something that we all want to know, whether to satisfy our own curiosity or to properly optimize your cost-per-click campaigns. Using Google Analytics, let me show you a few different places where you can go to find out the origins of your traffic.
1. The “All Traffic Sources” Report
This is normally where most everyone goes to know where people are coming from. It’s found underneath the “Traffic Sources” section (obviously). Now, you need to understand that, by default, Google Analytics groups all traffic in four separate categories, or, “mediums””:
Direct – Usually represented by (direct)(none), this is all of the traffic that either types in the URL of your website by hand, or accesses your website via a bookmark. Copying / Pasting your website’s URL and clicking on “Go” or hitting the Enter key also counts as direct traffic.
Referral – A referral is any visit from any website that links to yours. Usually appears with the name of the website or IP address (Example: myspace.com / referral)
Organic – Any traffic originating from an organic search engine listing. As of this post, Google Analytics automatically recognizes 39 different websites as search engines, but this number is always changing. (Example: google / organic)
CPC – Traffic that originates from a pay-per-click marketing program, such as Google AdWords. You’ll see it listed as “google / cpc”. Note: you will need to have your URLs coded with Google Analytics URL Tracking on all of your non-Google AdWords Paid Search campaigns in order to see them listed as “cpc”. Otherwise, they will be lumped in with the “organic” listings. Visit the Google Analytics URL Tool Builder Page to learn how it’s done.
2. The “Referring Sites” Report
This report is one of my personal favorites. I really like to look at this report, so I can see who is either linking to me or referencing me in a blog or message board. This report is also found in the “Traffic Sources” section, and it will list any website which you have received at least one visit from. The best part about this is that if you click on any website listing, you can see the exact page where your link is found, and you can also click on the small “double-window” icon next to the full page path to go to that page, to see your link on their site.
3. The “Search Engines” Report
Finally, you can use the Search Engines report to view your total amount of search engine traffic. You can also click on the “paid” link next to the segmenting tool to view all paid Search Engine traffic, or you can click on the “non-paid” link to view all organic / non-paid Search Engine traffic. Clicking on the name of the search engine that’s listed there will allow you to segment that search engine by keyword, so that you can see which search terms are responsible for bringing you traffic.
These three reports are a great start for you to start to see where all of your traffic is originating from.
I am sure we are all familiar with the term “If it’s too good to be true…it probably is.” in the world of the internet this is usually the case. I am sure that you have all seen ads or e-mails that claim to get you thousands of hits a day. The internet seems to be full of these companies that are promising large amounts of traffic at a fraction of the cost of normal PPC, but is it really worth it?
What these companies do really depends on the method they use to get traffic. Some use browser tool bars, some use spyware programs, some use instant messenger, and some even use viruses. Have you ever seen a “free toolbar” or some other “free tool” that you install on your computer? That’s them and they are everywhere. Of course not all of these tools are bad but how are you supposed to know which ones are and are not spyware, its simply not possible in most cases. Because of this fact these programs spread across the internet and get hundreds of thousands of users.
The problem is that these users may not actually be visiting your site at all. Once again it falls to the method of choice for the traffic company but it could be pop-up ads, pop-under ads, or even bot traffic. What this means is that if you sign up for a traffic program, your page may now have become spam. Your website would be popping up on thousands of desktops world wide to people who could not care less about your products. With bot traffic, it’s even worse in that the user may not even know they went to a website at all. Their computer automatically visits the site for them, with out them ever knowing.
You can see why these paid traffic companies are often a bad idea, and why you should avoid them. The traffic is so cheap that many only need one sale to cover the cost, but so is its quality.
If you really want quality traffic that converts, the only way is to stick to what works. Stick to reputable companies with proven track records and always research a company before you enter into a contract with them. A simple internet search could save you hundreds of dollars and your reputation. It may take more time and cost a little more, but it’s better than the alternatives.