Below is a great post written by Craig Grella specifically for the Blogging Your Passion community. Greg was a part of our pilot blogging program when we launched this site in April. During our initial training with him, he was able to get his blog up and running. His blog DaddyByDefault is only 3 months old and he is already seeing some great traffic numbers. He will be writing on a regular basis in the weeks to come. We want you to hear from someone who is only a few months into his blogging journey so it can be a source of encouragement that what we teach does work if you work it. We hope you enjoy the article!
Any salesman in virtually any industry will tell you making a sale to an existing customer is infinitely easier than convincing a new customer to buy for the first time. Getting readers to your website works in a similar fashion. Taking advantage of sites already sending you visitors is one of the best, and most efficient ways to get more traffic, and to do it in a relatively short period of time.
Keyword research tells us which search terms people are using to find our content, but to find out which sites are referring us visitors we need to use a program like Google Analytics.
Where Does Your Traffic Come From?
The stock dashboard in Google Analytics will tell you how all traffic finds your site. It’s an amazingly helpful tool, not to mention it comes with an attractive price tag – FREE!
The standard Google Analytics dashboard looks something like this:
You can see your site’s total visitors, page views, and pages per visit, along with some other helpful data. Below that, you’ll see some colorful charts like this:
These show your popular content, a map of where your visitors are from, and what we’re interested in – traffic sources. Drilling down into the traffic sources report will show you a list of all the ways traffic reached your site – likely one of the following ways:
- Organic – This means someone went to Google (or some other search engine), searched for a particular keyword, and ended up at your site.
- Direct Traffic – These are the visitors who typed your exact domain name directly into their internet browser (hopefully, not by mistake)
- Referral Traffic – These are the visitors who found your site while navigating other websites. This includes people who link to your site directly from their site, or within posts on their site that people click while reading content.
- Email/Feeds – This is traffic that reaches your site from your RSS feed or through an email subscription.
That list of total traffic sources looks something like this:
The more popular your site gets the longer this list gets, and that is where we run into problems. Well, not really problems, because more traffic is good, but let’s say our job as webmaster gets a little bit harder. My parenting website is only three months old and already there are 83 incoming traffic sources. (By the way, a large part of that traffic is due to setting up my blog in accordance with lessons learned right here on Blogging Your Passion.) Some more established sites can have thousands of incoming sources, which can make for a very cumbersome, and hard to read list.
You’ll also notice the list is sorted in order of visits. The source which sends the most visitors will be up top. You can change that order by clicking on the column header, but no matter which way you sort it, the list can be tough to make sense out of.
If you wanted to determine all the traffic sent to your site from social media applications, you’d have to run down the entire list, find the entries for facebook, twitter, and google plus, and then add those numbers separately. It can be quite a chore. This is where segmenting comes in handy.
Segmenting Google Analytics
You can view distinct groups of traffic sources by segmenting Google Analytics, which is a much easier and more efficient way to view your traffic sources. Using the previous example of social media, we can create a segment that shows us only incoming traffic sources that come from the URL’s we choose, namely twitter.com, facebook.com, and plus.google.com (and their mobile counterparts).
That way, when we view traffic stats underneath our social media segment, we can view only traffic sent to our site via social media channels. That view looks something like this:
You’ll notice the more organized, cleaner view, filtered to show only the content sources we choose. It’s From there, you can then view social media statistics vs. total traffic, and get a better understanding of how important social media is to your overall web traffic.
Why would we do this?
One reason is time management. Many of us, especially when we just start out blogs, spend an inordinate amount of time promoting our sites through various social media channels. Some people spend countless ours on the big three, but never determine whether that time is bringing back any traffic to our site. Segmenting Google Analytics gives us a measure of results for the time spent on other sites.
If you determine that half your day is spent on social media sites, but only five percent of your traffic comes from those sources, you might modify your time and spend it in better places. If one or two niche sites, like forums, are sending you 30% of your traffic and you only spend 5% of your time on those sites, you could switch up and maybe spend more time there to drive even more traffic to your site, and do it with less work.
To learn how you can segment Google Analytics, view the tutorial video below.
Effective keyword research can help you plan content and grow your site’s overall traffic, but understanding which sites consistently refer visitors can be just as important as optimizing your posts for those keywords.
After your site has been live for a few weeks and you start seeing some data in Google Analytics, play around with segmenting. Try to setup a segment for social media, maybe one for popular bookmarking sites like Reddit and Digg, or even a segment for your favorite forums. If you have a few guest posts out there, make a segment for that too, and see just how much traffic is generated from your guest posts. The sky is the limit. Have fun with it.