Get More Website Traffic by Segmenting Google Analytics

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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!

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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:

Segment Google Analytics to drive more traffic to your website
Click image to enlarge

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:

Segment Google Analytics for More Web Traffic
Click image to enlarge

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:

How Google Analytics Reports your web traffic sources
Click image to enlarge

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:

Google Analytics Traffic Sources with Social Media Segmentation
Click image to enlarge

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.

18 thoughts on “Get More Website Traffic by Segmenting Google Analytics”

  1. Looking forward to more post from you Craig. Its good to look at your analytics to see where traffic is coming from. You can always get a jump start on post or venues where people are talking about you. Add to conversations or to other sites and you will see that traffic source increase instead of die out.

    1. lol. I love analytics! Its encouraging to see a chart or graph gradually increase. Traffic or income.. I also love numbers. Investing, savings, interest rates.. figuring out the fastest ways to pay off my debts.. all of this is up my alley 😉

  2. Good article Craig. I have gone bald trying to load google analytics for wordpress onto my site. It shows it is downloaded but wont activate unless I direct where it goes. It. I have no idea what to do. The heading at the top of page shows timeout with Christ. Do you have any ideas?
    Terry

      1. Bob or Jonathon set this up for me about a month ago. I think I am self hosting. The site is http://www.timeoutwithchrist.com. I think there is something about compatibility here, but what do I know. LOL I would like to sit with someone for an hour and I think I could have most issues taken care of. As many blogs as there are out there, it seems there is little help to tweek a site. I did all the stuff for Amazon, it wont load, I tried to put a subscribe button on, it don’t work. I tried to add ecommerce, it don’t work. I think its me. LOL

        1. I finaly got the old version to load. I am almost afraid to try the new again. A bright spot, I use adwords a lot. I have am on each of the first 11 pages of google.. I have been on the first page since the fist blog post. All you guys are a tremendous help. Thank You!

  3. This was helpful. Since moving to a self-hosted WP blog, I quit watching my Google analytics page because WP seemed to give me a lot of the same stats. Now I can see the advantage of using the Google. Can you tell me, though, why the numbers on Google Analytics don’t match those on WP stats page?

  4. Now that I’ve watched the video and done what you said…this is absolutely amazing. It tells me what I suspected about one area but gives me a question about another. I spend about no time on FB. But, FB sends twice the hits as Twitter, where I hang out most of the day. However, everything I post on Twitter automatically posts on FB. So, in light of that, would you still say I should spend more time on FB?

    1. In my opinion, there is more of a “conversation” on Twitter, which is why I spend time there at all, because Facebook sends me much more regular traffic too. But what I do is try to be more focused with my time on Facebook. I join (or start) groups that will be more likely to read my posts and to respond or comment and I network with people in similar or ancillary niches. For example, my niche is parenting, or more particularly, Dads. I don’t just network with dads though, because they get inundated with similar material, i also network with children’s book publishers, kids clothing retailers, and stay at home moms. You might try a similar strategy and see if the extra time on facebook yields extra traffic. I’ll add this to my list of future articles to write. Maybe do one on social media niche development. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Great article, Craig. Though I have had google analytics for a while, I was a bit overwhelmed with understanding the date. This segmenting tool is great. I will tweak mine a bit more to attempt to watch some goals I have set.

    Thanks for showing us how to do this. I learn better via graphs so showing the video helped me much.

    1. Yeah, I’m a numbers guy too Michael, which is why I love analytics, it’s pure data. Setting goals are great too, especially if you have specific targets you want to hit and can measure them.

      Bob and Jonathan posted a great article here on BYP about making your Adsense goals manageable, which I think is key to analyzing whether they are effective or not. If you haven’t read that article, you can find it here: http://bloggingyourpassion.com/how-to-set-goals-and-make-money-with-google-adsense/

  6. I’m assuming you mean the new version of analytics, you probably see a note when you login to use the “new view.” I resisted it at first too, because I was familiar with the old layout, but (as with all the new google views) it is actually a more simplified layout, and easier to navigate to the information you need. Less drilling down I think.

    Have you linked your two accounts yet? Analytics and adwords?

    1. Should I try to load the new version? Will the new override the old or do I need to delete the old first. Combine the two, adwords and analytics…new to me. There are still no data coming through just all areas show 0. I assume it takes awhile for analytics to load info.

  7. Terry,

    If you are using google analytics directly from the analytics site (as opposed to a website or wordpress analytics plugin) you can set which version you want to use in the top right corner of the page, next to your email address for the account. It looks like this picture here: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B3h7T1tXrYcHZTVhZDM5OWUtZTljNy00ODJmLWI5MGEtMzViM2M0MGY1ODYw&hl=en_US
    Clicking “new version” will allow you to see the new views. It’s not separate software, just a new view.

    Once there, if you don’t like the interface, you can switch back by clicking in the same upper right area, this time click “old version.” You can see that pic here:https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B3h7T1tXrYcHYzNlZGM1MTMtZDk2OC00NDMyLTk3NTEtZGQ2NWUwZjI3NTgw&hl=en_US

    If you do, in fact, like the new version, you can click “make this default” so analytics loads it for you automatically when you enter.

    Does that answer your question?

  8. I started a blog on 1/13 and had forgotten about using google analytics…thanks for the reminder and good luck on your new endeavor. I am having a ball helping others by sharing my thoughts and experiences….on my way to google right now!

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