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Internet Traffic 101: What Marketers Need to Know

Every website wants attention, and yours is no exception. But how do you know who’s seeing your stuff? How do you know where they’re going or where they’ve been? Looking at your internet traffic will give you a clue on how well your marketing strategies are working.

Here’s what you need to know about the ins and outs of online traffic.

What Is Internet Traffic?

Traffic is the amount of visitors a website receives. Site administrators analyze traffic data to see what sections and pages are popular among visitors. This includes looking at page views, time spent on a page, and the number of pages visited per user.

Sometimes too much traffic can be a problem. One type of traffic overload, the slashdot effect, happens when a smaller site gets more visitors than its server can handle. Loading times may slow down dramatically, and in some cases, the site might shut down temporarily.

Another type of traffic overload, and one that usually makes the news, is a denial-of-service (DoS) attack. DoS attacks happen when a ton of coordinated traffic hits a website at once, causing the server to crash. Many times, people use bots to conduct DoS attacks.

What Are the Different Types of Traffic?

Internet traffic is an umbrella term for a range of different traffic types. It all depends on how the visitor gets to your site.

Direct. When people type in your URL in their browser’s address bar or click on a link in an email, they’re generating direct traffic. Usually, direct traffic shows that people already know about your business and have been to your website before.

Referral. Any traffic driven from an inbound link is referral traffic. For example, a popular blogger raves about your company and links to your website in a post. Their followers click the link and visit your site. Congrats, you just got referral traffic.

Organic. Depending largely on SEO, organic traffic is created through search engine results. The higher your site ranks in search results, the more visits you’ll likely get. Marketers love organic traffic because it’s free, but it might take a while for organic traffic to grow.

Paid. This is the type of traffic you expect when you dish out money for an online ad campaign. Every time someone clicks a banner ad or a paid search result (think Google AdWords), they’re sending paid traffic your way.

Social. A relatively new traffic category, social traffic counts as visitors coming to your site via shared social media links, like tweets or Facebook posts.

What Do You Do With Traffic?

For marketers, traffic shows whether or not campaign strategies work. Analyzing your web traffic can tell you how many people are viewing your site and where they’re coming from. Lots of organic traffic may show that you have strong SEO content. A boost in direct traffic might mean that last week’s email campaign did its job.

Obviously, getting lots of traffic is important for your business. More traffic means more potential leads. However, quantity isn’t everything. Quality matters, too.

High quality traffic, or targeted traffic, means your site visitors match up with your target customer demographic. People on your site are interested in your content, want to know more about your company, and probably are looking to see if your products or services fit their needs. As a whole, targeted traffic is more likely to convert, and in turn, generate more sales for you.

On the other hand, low quality traffic is like someone walking into a store, looking around for a minute, and then leaving and never coming back. If conversions don’t rise as traffic grows, you might want to rethink your marketing strategies.

The Bottom Line

You must keep notes on traffic data so you know what’s working and what’s not. Seeing where your traffic’s coming from and understanding who makes up your traffic will help you refine your marketing techniques and reach the right people.

This post originally appeared on eZanga.


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