Figuring out what traffic sources send you the most traffic is great, but it’s only the beginning.
Let me ask you this: if you were to have your way, which of the following would you prefer:
- tons of traffic to your site;
- being ranked on Google for a multitude of keywords;
- insane number of backlinks;
- visitors who convert into customers?
I would give up my traffic in a heartbeat if it meant more conversions, i.e. subscribers and customers – wouldn’t you?
So how do we know which SPECIFIC traffic sources bring us the most quality traffic, which ones we need to nourish, and which ones we need to let go of?
Your Conversion Goals
The simplest way to accomplish this is by setting goals in your Google Analytics account and tracking them against all your traffic.
Here’s what a typical dashboard looks like:
Now if I click on a drop-down menu located in the top-right corner under “Advanced Segments” and choose “Visits with Conversions” along with “All Visits” like this:
… this is what I’ll see in the dashboard:
As you can see, even though the site gets lots of traffic, that traffic doesn’t convert all too well with that particular goal in mind.
It’s imperative that you know that so that you can start working on the necessary changes.
How to Set Up Goals
Essentially, your goals are the actions you would like your readers to accomplish.
Good examples are:
- Subscribe to your list;
- Subscribe to RSS;
- Buy a product;
- Check out your internet marketing tools page; etc.
Here are full instructions on how to set up goals in Google Analytics.
Why should you add setting up goals in your GA to your already never-ending list of things to do?
As you noticed in one of the screenshots above, those readers who achieve your goals are the most ENGAGED readers you’ll ever get.
Take a look at how many more page views they produce? Notice the much lower bounce rate and overall time on your site.
That’s exactly the kind of readers you want ALL your traffic to be.
However, since that’s rather impossible, we’ll settle for the next best thing: determining which traffic sources produce the most quality traffic.
Practical Advice on Using Goals
Let’s take referral traffic source as an example.
If you read my post about it, you saw that Twitter is my largest referral traffic source.
But is it the most quality one? Let’s take a look.
From my Dashboard, I am going into “Traffic Sources” ==> “Referring Sites”. Since “Visits with Conversions” (see screenshot above) box is still checked, this is what I see:
Surprise, surprise: even though Twitter brings me twice as much traffic as Facebook does, Facebook traffic converts over 2 times better than Twitter!
Conclusion: focus on Facebook more.
Following these steps you can analyze every single traffic source, big or small, within minutes and determine which ones need more attention and which ones don’t deserve much of your time.
As daunting as this may seem if you are not very familiar with Google Analytics yet, setting up goals will take you just a couple of minutes and will bring you a huge advantage as far as being “in the know” about your best quality traffic sources.
In the end, it’ll save you loads of time, plus increase your chances of actually achieving your blog goals.
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39 Intelligent comments · espresso yours below
Boutros AbiChedid says
Continuing from my previous comment. I forgot to mention that GA requires cookies. If the user have cookies disabled this means that your Website cannot be properly tracked in GA (see more info here: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/concepts/gaConceptsCookies.html)
That’s why I want to re-emphasize that GA measures a trend of traffic and not an exact science.
Log file analyzers are more accurate for tracking but at the expense of lesser features (you need cookies for more features).
Boutros AbiChedid says
Thanks Ana for this post. I use ‘Google Analytics (GA)’ on my blog.
Why do I disable JS? Because I like to be in control, to prevent any malware/ adware injection (and other bad stuff), also when I test my blog I don’t want GA to record my work.
When I compare GA data with the statistics tool on my Web server the numbers always don’t match and GA always has a lower traffic count.
The most accurate Analytics tools are the ones that are installed on the server that don’t rely on JS for traffic analysis. One example would be: Piwik
Check out my previous post about the 14 Best Free Web Analytics Tools.
Ana Hoffman says
I do realize that GA has a lot of shortcomings, Boutros.
My philosophy about tracking stats is that it’s useful to get an overall picture of how your site is doing, but nothing to be obsessed over.
Piwik sounds like something I need to look into; thanks for the suggestion!
Jeff Faldalen says
I don’t know how you get so much great content out there with all the information you share.
I had no idea Google Analytics was so detailed
Maria Pavel says
A blog created a post where he pointed out that traffic is indeed important in a way, but what is really important is the conversion. Anyway, site owners are after of earning and to be able to achieve it, they need to improve their conversion rate.
I don’t think we should not be hasty to discredit the people who make our high traffic,because after all, they are the ones who tell us if they appreciate or not our work. Even if they won’t buy the products we offer, they give us the good or bad feedback that we need to make our good work GREAT!
That’s true. With direct traffic,people are just more likely to be converted.
Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com says
Love the post! I always thought of the Goals were something like a visitor buying a product through a product link. Never really realized you can set more generic goals like that
Might want to play around with this soon 🙂
It never seizes to amaze me what we can do with GA – I still feel like I barely scratch the surface of all the potential, Michael.
Hope you find time to check this one out.
Let me give you an example, Mark.
Let’s say your conversion goal is for your readers to subscribe to your list and once they do subscribe, they are sent to a thank you page or a “check your email” page.
The existence of such a page where all your converted traffic is redirected to is how Google establishes that a conversion happened – the only reason anyone would see that page is if they went through your “conversion funnel”.
Does it make sense?
So glad you asked that question Mark. When I check my analytic account I noticed I had no conversions and I immediately thought, ‘Shit man I suck!” Then I saw your question and Ana’s answer and I feel a whole lot better 🙂
Dr. Bob Clarke@Network Marketing Part Time says
Well, I knew the Analytics must provide this information, but I didn’t know how to find it. Now I do!
And thanks for helping us understand how to set goals in Analytics. Very useful stuff.
Lol! Glad to be of help. 🙂
Martin Dale@online-marketing-expert-tips says
I must admit that I am still learning my way around Google Analytics.
So, this post is very helpful for me.
I like what you said about thinking, “how could I have the time to set up something like that in GA?” It proves that you know what it is like to be super swamped with things to do, and have to pick the most important items to work on. Therefore, It must be important, if you have decided to promote this method to your readers. : )
Thanks for sharing,
In the end, it’s all about making money for most of us, right, Martin?
Well, you can’t do that until you bring in traffic that is willing to buy and you have to track your traffic to know which one is which.
So yes, I definitely think this is time well spent!
Adam James says
Great article Ana, I think visitors who convert into customers would be a main one for me, although for that you need a good amount of targeted traffic, which in turn would normally come from ranking for a number of keywords in search engines. Although this still doesn’t guarantee clicks.
But out of all the methods of generating traffic, organic SEO has produced the best and most consitant results.
That’s excellent, Adam. It shows that your visitors trust you. Organic traffic is definitely best!
Argie Monroy says
I’m also using Facebook to generate traffic over time although its not really getting that much. Moreover, I am not yet getting conversions as I dont have any products to offer yet. Great article Ana 😀
Your possible conversions could be subscribers to your list or your RSS feed, Argie – it doesn’t have to be products.
Great article Ana, thank you – I´m still figuring Google Analytics especially with the goal setting so this is helpful!
You are very welcome, Monja.
Aaron Eden says
Thanks for sharing this info, Anna. I want to ask what percentage of bounce rate is considered safe — like aiming below 60%? I just think that our site is attracting the wrong type of audience, that’s why the goal conversion is quite low. Of course, there are many factors why this is happening and it’s like putting the pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle together.
It’s hard to say where the magic number is when it comes down to bounce rate, Aaron, but I would say it’s very normal for blogs to have 50-60%.
I would say that your problem is one of two things: not well targeted traffic, like you pointed out, or your conversion techniques need some work.
You are definitely right about the puzzle – the kind of puzzle that you’ll never truly figure out. That’s what makes it interesting…
Lol! Oliver, that’s not my intention, but rather to strengthen every area. 🙂
Geoffrey Talbot says
Thanks for another great post Ana,
So over the weekend I started getting a lot of traffic from Reddit. Just wondered what your opinion on the quality of the traffic from this social site is?
It was far easier to get the traffic from Reddit than from Stumbleupon and Digg. Not sure if that is because I am a good headline writer or what?
Love to know your thoughts.
Sorry I won’t be of much help here, Geoff – I’ve never used Reddit.
However, I’ve never used StumbleUpon either, but yet I am getting traffic from it.
I did hear that StumbleUpon traffic is usually very low-converting; might be the same for Reddit. You’d probably know better – now that you know how to set up goals and all.
Chukwuka Okwukwe Chukwuka says
I just learned about setting goals in GA and I’m off to read the article to solve that problem of mine.
I prefer facebook to twitter for traffic.
P.S: In one of your images, I saw a bounce rate of -100%. Is that a good sign, I mean, is there anything like that because I’ve seen something like that a couple of times in my GA account.
The reason that the bounce rate is -100% in that particular image, Chukwuka, is because for this specific goal my readers are redirected to the next page. Thus by default they visit more than one page, so there’s no bounce rate.
Solid write up about sing GA for setting up and tracking goals Ana. I for one would definitely care less with my traffic, providing it translates more into conversions. Not an easy thing to do, but with tools and great advice like this one, it certainly makes it a tad easier 🙂
I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
Hi Ana, most people don’t realize that without setting up goals in Google Analytics, they might as well use some simple tracking tools like WordPress.com stats just to see where the traffic is coming from.
Goals are the real meat and potatoes of Google Analytics and picking the RIGHT goals to track is just as important.
I’m a little lost with using the new version of Google Analytics and I’m not sure if there are changes that directly impact how to look at outcomes from Goal tracking. I would love to see a video tutorial on the topic but Google seems to be slow in producing them. I’d love to see one from you on the topic one day though.
LOL! You make me laugh, Ileane – the meat and potatoes 🙂
Maybe I’ll do a video tutorial – thanks for the suggestion.
I have not really thought about it in that way, Ken as people have been monetizing their blogs for years. However, I guess it depends on the mindset of the readers.
It’s an interesting mix of traffic you mention there, too.
Thanks for stopping by!
Elmar Sandyck says
It’s been awhile since I got around your website and I’m really glad I did. It’s a great thing to refresh my memory on why Google Analytics is truly helpful in achieving one’s blog goals. It can really give you a bird’s eye view of what to focus your marketing efforts on as well as give you the idea on what not to prioritize.
I’m glad you’re doing great with Facebook! All the best!
Well, it’s good to “see” you again, Elmar! 🙂
Ken Mueller says
Hey Ana, this is great stuff. Analytics is one of my week points, and you just gave me some really helpful insights into how to do all of this. This will be a project for me to set up some nice reports over the next several days. Thanks for putting this together!
You’re welcome, Ken. I know that many of us neglect this important aspect of blogging, which is why I put this post together. Glad it helped you.
Visitors converting into sales is what I like the most, it just shows that the people I’m getting are targeted. No need to get a million visitors and no ones interested.
“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”
That’s exactly what all bloggers dream about and if you get it right, you have your success formula.