When you are just starting with blogging, you will get to hear a lot of tech jargon such as “Organic Traffic”. For many it gets confusing. So to help you out, today I am going to talk about various blog traffic types.
If you are wondering what traffic means, in the blogging world, traffic means people who are visiting your blog.
Not all traffic is human traffic
If you open up your web hosting dashboard or any generic stat counting widget or hit counter, you will be glad to see hundreds of hits coming to your new blog.
According to my web hosting visitor stats, I am averaging 1,000 visitors a month, which is flattering (but not accurate).
Be aware that not all these numbers are caused by human visitors.
These are robots.
What do you say Tamal? Do we have robots living among us reading blogs?
Well technically yes, but these robots are not from science fiction movies.
You see Google and many others websites created special scripts whose job is to load up websites and check for text, images and videos.
This way google gets to read all the pages of the internet one by one and store it in their database. When you search Google for your blog name, Google does not visits your blog, instead it checks the records in their own server which has info about your blog.
So when a bot visits your blog, it comes and read your pages within maybe less than a second. But your web hosting company records that as a hit. Because your web hosting company likes to track how many times your blog is being served.
Tracking Human Visitors
They can track human hits with much more accuracy (although it’s not always perfect so you have to use your common sense)
But with these services, you can be sure that 90% of the times you will see stats for real visitors and no funny business.
After all we don’t care how many hundred bot hits we get, we care about people!
If you open up your Google analytics dashboard and go to Acquisition > Overview, you will see your total traffic divided into sub channels:
Direct Traffic (typed in traffic)
Direct traffic are the people who type in your blog name in the browser to visit your site.
If they bookmark your site and come from clicking on a bookmark, it will also be categorized as direct traffic. Usually a good memorable domain name gets typed in a lot. If your blog is very well known you will see an increased number of people with direct traffic.
In GA, clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium will reveal the number coming from direct (typed in) traffic.
When another blog or website links to your blog and someone clicks on it, that is counted as a referral traffic. The more popular your blog is, the more links and mentions you will get and therefore more referral traffic you will get.
With referral traffic, you get to see the exact domain and page where you are getting the visitors.
The number of visitors you get from various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can be classified as social traffic. In Google analytics, some domains are considered source of social media sites. Sometimes traffic from a social site can also show up in the referral traffic tab.
But for a blogger, when you share your post on various social media sites, it’s helpful to see how many visitors you are getting from these post sharing.
Organic Traffic (Search Traffic)
This one is the most important one and perhaps the most confusing of them all. Organic traffic simply means when people found your blog/articles from Google searches. You see people search for things all the time, and based on their search, various website links show up. If your blog show up on a particular search, and someone clicks on the link to land on your blog, that is called an organic search visitor.
Organic search is the king of all traffic types. It’s the most talked about and most lucrative of them all. As a blogger your job is to create great quality, helpful pieces of content, which will eventually show up in web search.
Search traffic is not just limited to Google only, other search providers like Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo are shown too.
In the Organic Traffic tab, you can see the search terms people use to find your blog. A large portion of the terms are hidden (not provided) because few years ago Google decided to hide the search terms from people who are signed in to their Google accounts.
But what you can see is enough to work on your SEO.
When you get search rankings for your various blog posts, you will get regular and fresh visitors coming to your site on auto-pilot. That’s why organic traffic is very lucrative. I have covered a lot about getting organic traffic in this post.
When you place an advert in Facebook or put ads via Google Adwords, these visitors will show up under the paid traffic category. There is nothing much to share about it since I haven’t use paid traffic for my sites.
You can go advance and track your blog visitors with custom campaigns. There is a tool called Google UTM url maker. You can make a custom url for tracking purposes.
An example I can give you is, I put my website url in my email signature.
When someone clicks on that link in my email signature, that hit will register like this:
(after going to grab this screenshot, I realized that I’ haven’t set this url properly, that’s why it’s not showing up under campaigns tab, but it works)
So I know how many people visited my site from my outgoing emails. This is very neat!
Tips for Tracking Visitors
Go ahead and setup a Google Analytics account. It will help you track the real human visitors. It will also count how long your visitors stayed on your page and how many pages they visit.
For bounce rate, look for a realistic 60-70% bounce rate or lower. If you are looking for a much better and reliable tracking solution, look into Clicky website tracking.
Clicky shows accurate bounce rate numbers and even it shows the links they clicked to exit your blog. You can read this post where I shared more about understanding various website tracking metrics.