Is your traffic targeted? Are you listed in the engines? What is your popularity score? What's your PR? Where are your visitors coming from? This article will provide you with simple tips on how you can easily analyze your own traffic without spending a bundle on a bunch of wares, services and programs - AND how you can maximize your current traffic while increasing your overall traffic at the same time.
Whether you have a new site – six months old or less – or an older site – let’s say a year or more, you need to be aware of how much traffic you have. You also need to know what kind of traffic you have, where you are getting your traffic and what the quality of that traffic is. That’s a LOT of information to keep track of but it’s vitally important in order for you to properly assess your site’s situation so you can make improvements, continue doing “more of the same,” or completely re-tool your ideas and strategies.
Before you make any changes or start any new traffic trades, marketing efforts or campaigns you need to set a “baseline” – you need to know where you are RIGHT NOW before you make a move. Why is this important? You will need to be able to compare and note gains or losses in traffic; quality of traffic; and conversion ratios of said traffic. The best way to do that is to get a handle on where you stand TODAY.
Things to Consider
There are certain basic areas that you will need to be concerned with in order to properly assess your traffic situation. Either pop open a spread sheet, a blank notepad or go with some good old-fashioned paper and a pen – you will want to take notes, keep a record and have something you can look back over in the future.
Begin by writing down the following questions – leave room to write the answers today, then room for say 2-4 weeks from now and quite possibly a couple of months from now so you can compare straight across the board:
- Is your site listed in the search engines and directories?
- What is your link popularity score? What is your site’s PR ranking with Google?
- How is your site’s rank on targeted search terms?
- How many unique visitors do you currently have on average each day?
- Where is your traffic coming from at the moment?
These questions should be easy enough to answer. If not, you may want to consider looking at different statistics programs, find new ways to monitor your site and organize things better so you can have a handle on what’s going on with your site. If you are unable to answer any one of these questions within a matter of minutes – or more hopefully: seconds – you will need to re-examine your analytical skills and techniques.
Finding the Answers
If you don’t know how to find these answers, here are some tips to get you started… there are lots of different ways to come up with these answers, but here are just some ideas to get the ball rolling – everyone will have their own favorites:
Simply conduct a search of popular search engines and directories to see if your site is listed. This can be done simply by typing in your site name or address, or some engines like Google offer deeper information if you type site:yourdomain.com instead of a “normal” query. You should also try typing it in with the www., and again with the http://www., because sometimes it will yield different results.
Your link popularity score can be found in a number of ways – check the sidebar in this article for a full listing of resources. Just pop in your domain (www.yourdomain.com) and you will see a ranking based upon how “popular” you are – meaning, how many other sites link to your site. A site with a 1,000-5,000 rank is considered “average,” a site with a score of 20,000 is considered “popular” and according to the data at IconInteractive.com, a site with a score of 100,000+ is considered an “Internet icon”.
Sometimes the best way to check on how well your site ranks on targeted search terms is just to search for your key terms yourself and view your ranking. This is another good thing to add to a spreadsheet for future reference or to write down in a notebook. Search at least 10 – but hopefully more like 50 – key search terms for your site. If you aren’t sure – and that should send off some warning signals – you can check your server statistics and see what the most popular keywords are for your site at the moment.
To check your unique visitors you need to make sure you have some solid statistics working behind the scenes on your site. Many webmasters utilize a combination of statistical programs to ensure that they are getting an accurate picture of “what’s going on” with their traffic. Not all programs are created equal, so make sure you choose different programs that will give you different views. A nice freebie – that has a paid upgrade – is StatCounter.com. It gives you real-time statistics with a number of other options that can help you better analyze your traffic. Your best bet though is a solid server-based statistics program – talk with your hosting company about which programs they offer and what they recommend based upon your account history.
Finding out where your traffic is coming from should also come from your statistics program. You can track traffic campaigns, search engine listings, traffic trades and other movements via the various options within these programs. Using a tracking code for larger trades – or more costly trades – is also recommended. This can help you see the value of your purchase clearly so you can determine whether it was a good buy or not.
Analyzing the Results
Once you have your numbers – your baseline of where your site stands at the moment – you have more questions to ask yourself. Is your traffic targeted? Are people who found your site via a specific keyword finding what they were looking for? Did you provide it for them? If not, what can you do to remedy that situation and provide it in the future? You have two choices – either add in the content that they are seeking and keep the traffic, capitalize on it and convert it; or you can simply focus on other search terms and forget about creating new content just for this term. You would really only discard the idea of creating new content if the keyword was a term you don’t want associated with your site, is totally off the niche or focus of your site OR if it’s something you can’t possibly provide.
Other questions to ask yourself now are about the keywords themselves – are the ones that you rank well for actually popular? You can check the major engines and directories to see what the most popular terms are – in fact the tools that are available through Google’s AdWords program are very helpful for this purpose. If you have the number one ranking for something that no one will be likely to search for – what does that mean? Where is the benefit? You will need to analyze this area to ensure that you are targeting keywords that matter and will yield results.
You should also begin to focus on learning what your problem areas are. When you check your page rank you should check the rank of ALL your pages – or at least the most important ones. Not all pages will be ranked the same – it’s not an all or none whole site thing – it’s based solely upon the merits of each individual page within a site. What are your problem pages? If your main sales page is ranked worse than your “filler content,” you should look around and find out why. If you have well-ranked sites – such as a 5 or higher – don’t touch them! Clearly you did something right!
While you’re at it – you should keep track of which pages are the most popular based upon traffic. Again, your server stats or other programs should be able to tell you this. Determine which pages are visited the most often and target them for optimization. Sometimes all you need to do is add more content to those pages to increase visitor use, traffic and ultimately, conversion. Remember – targeted and relevant content will pull your site’s visitors deeper into your site and will keep them there longer, giving you more opportunity to make a sale.
You should also take your new found information and use it to determine not just the best keywords used to bring relevant traffic to your site, but also to determine the best keyword phrases for each page in your site. A keyword phrase should be limited to 2-3 words each – you can see which phrases are bringing in the most traffic via your web stats program. Once you’ve determined what is working, you should consider trying a keyword purchase service such as Google’s AdWords or some other pay-per-click option to see how much traffic they could truly generate for your site.
The Long Haul
In the end – oh who are we kidding – when it comes to your traffic there IS no end. No end to checking statistics, no end to comparing numbers, no end to working hard to achieve the next milestone – it’s a never-ending process that needs to be watched like a pot on to boil. Keep good records, update them regularly, compare your notes, continue with what works and more importantly - discard what doesn’t.
Once you establish a baseline and begin on your course of analyzing your traffic it will get easier – that first time is a doozy, I won’t kid you. But once you’re on your way it will begin to make sense to you and the time and effort put into the process will reveal itself. Knowing everything you can about your traffic can help you make the most out of it. If you’re in this for the “long haul” then analyzing your traffic should definitely be a top priority!
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