You’ve got a website or are planning on building one. Great. But you’ve also probably quickly found that building a website isn’t like the movie Field of Dreams, where they say if you build it, they will come. Building a website and getting traffic to that website are two different processes altogether.
Let’s look at what it takes to get traffic to your website so you can decide which route you will take and create a strategy for your business.
Website traffic is simply what it sounds like –traffic that comes to your website. Hopefully, it will be full of people interested in what you sell on your website or looking for answers to their questions, and you can help.
There are different types of website traffic that you’ll see in your analytics or website traffic monitoring account. You'll likely see direct (people who already know your website's URL and go directly), organic traffic the traffic you're getting from SEO, social traffic coming from social media, referral traffic coming from other websites that are linking to yours, and finally, email traffic is coming from your email to your website.
You must use a website traffic measurement tool such as Google Analytics to track your website's traffic. It’s hard to know how much traffic you have, if it’s good, and if you’re creating the right type of content without a measurement tool.
If you already have Google Analytics on your website, I want you to reference it as we go through the following sections. If you don’t have it set up yet, I want you to go to analytics.google.com, sign up for an account, and set it up on your website. It’s free and relatively easy to set up. You will need this information to analyze your website traffic and decide what is or isn’t working with your marketing.
Sadly, I meet a lot of small business owners who have GA on their accounts but have never logged in and looked at it because they don’t know what the numbers mean. I always tell my students that their questions are answered in GA if they know where to look. I’ll walk you through that in a minute too.
If you already have GA on your website (or another tracking tool), you’re ready to look and see what quality traffic you’re getting. What you want to know to determine whether or not your traffic is good is do they interact with your content. You want to look at how long people spend on your website, how many pages they read, and if they engage with your content.
Google changed from Universal Analytics to GA-4 recently, which means that some of the traditional engagement metrics we’ve tracked for years are no longer available to us with this new reporting system.
Today we look at engaged sessions, which Google defines as the number of sessions that lasted 10 seconds or more, had a conversion event, or visited two or more pages on your website. You want to have the majority of your sessions engaged, or that’s a concern because it means people don’t like what they’re finding on your website when they first get there, and you can’t build a business with website traffic that doesn’t want to stay.
You can look at the average engagement time from engaged sessions to better understand how much time people spend on your website. In the old GA, we aimed for time on site over 1:00. In GA-4, we see an “average” engagement of around the same 1:00 timeframe. If your average engagement is significantly lower than that, you likely have an issue with your website not providing what your visitors want. If your engagement is above 1:00 per session, that’s good; keep doing what you're doing.
In GA, you can see your average engagement time by channel, which is super helpful so you can see if the traffic is coming from one channel (social, email, SEO, direct, referral, etc. we’ll talk more about what the different channels are in a minute) is more engaged than others. You’ll likely see that some channels have higher or more extended engagement per session than others. You want to take note of this as you’re looking at your website traffic as a whole to help you determine what’s working and what’s not.
Realistically you want to get the most website traffic you can that’s engaged and interested in your offer. Your percentages will differ based on industry and your ideal client. In the beginning, you will have very little traffic to your website because it’s brand new; no one knows it’s there; you haven’t done SEO yet and worked with Google to help them understand what it’s about. In time, traffic should grow. Most experts say growth between 10 and 20% each month is good. If you’re getting 100 visits monthly, you should aim for 110 to 120 next month as a goal. But remember, you’re going to have to do something to get that new traffic to your site. More on that in a minute.
How do you know if you’re getting enough traffic? Enough traffic is truly subjective. You have enough traffic when your business generates the sales you want to make or you’re booking enough consults to keep your client roster full. Most small businesses are always looking to increase website traffic and never truly determine that they have “enough.”
When setting website traffic goals, be sure you’re realistic about what you can achieve. Setting a goal of a 50% increase in website traffic isn’t likely realistic unless you’re investing a lot of money in paid traffic channels. I had clients who would have someone in upper management give them a goal of a 40-50% increase in website traffic and no additional budget to help drive that increase. They felt defeated before the year began because that’s more than double the expected increase, and no more budget to provide additional marketing support to drive that traffic. Don’t set yourself up for frustration. Focus on small incremental increases and have a strategy to drive those increases and a budget when necessary.
Now that we’ve focused on the basics of website traffic, what it is, how to know how much you’re getting today, how much you need, and how to set goals to drive more, let’s talk about the different ways you can increase your website traffic and achieve those goals.
You can get website traffic in different ways from different marketing channels. Some will be free others will be paid. Most small business owners will want a mix of channels to send website traffic. It’s never good to depend upon only one channel because if something happens with that channel, you risk losing all your website traffic.
Free website traffic or organic website traffic is generally from Google. You get that by doing SEO on your website so that Google understands what your website is about and is more likely to show it to people searching for solutions to problems, answers to questions, and products to buy similar to what you offer on your site.
SEO traffic is fantastic because people search for what you offer, so it’s generally very engaged and highly relevant. However, SEO takes time to build, and you have to know what to do for SEO on your website. If you're unsure how to do SEO on your website, read this post to get started.
Social Media traffic can be paid or free. Let’s talk about free or organic social media traffic first. Organic social media traffic is traffic that sees your content on social media and clicks a link in your bio, in a post, on YouTube, a pin on Pinterest, etc., and comes to your website to learn more or get the download you offered or sign up for something you’ve shared on social media. This traffic should be good and engaged because, in most situations, they’ve already connected with you on social media and chose to visit your website to learn more about your business, sign up, or purchase.
You can also do paid social media, which we’ll discuss later in the paid traffic section.
Email is another way to get people to your website to interact with your content. If people are on your email list and you email them regularly and include links to offers, products, blog posts, etc., they’re more likely to click through and visit your website to read the post, listen to the podcast, buy the product, sign up for the item, etc. because they’re already familiar with you. They’ve already asked to hear from you. Driving traffic to your website from your email list works great if you have an email list. If you don’t have one, you’ll want to work on building one so that you can use it to keep people coming back to your website in the future and building loyalty. Read this blog post to get started building your email list.
Referral traffic is another option that can be free or paid. For this section, we’ll talk about free referral traffic. A referral visit means someone found information about your website on another and clicked to visit your website from theirs. Free referral traffic often comes from digital PR, like podcast interviews, publications, guest training, etc. Organic referral visits are often something that gets in exchange for an interview or training you do in someone else’s group, an interview you do on someone’s podcast, a quote you give in an article, etc.
Referral traffic can be great because it’s a bit warmer; they’ve likely read about you or heard you on a podcast or video and feel slightly familiar. They may be coming to your website to download your opt-in or sign up for a free training they heard about from the other person.
Paid traffic can come from Google or most social media channels. If you’re doing Google Ads, you’re bidding on keywords related to your content and business. It’s very similar to SEO in choosing keywords to focus on. However, the main difference is that your website appears at the top of the page in the paid ads section rather than the organic listings.
The cost for Google ads will depend significantly on the competition for your niche and the keywords you’re targeting. Some ad bids are very low, while others can be over $200 per click. You have to work to set a budget that’s appropriate for your business if you’re going to invest in paid traffic via Google so that you can ensure you’re making a positive ROI (return on your investment), meaning you’re making more money from sales or bookings than you’re spending on ads.
Google Ads tend to be a bit more tailored than some social media ads because you’re bidding on keywords that people are searching for at the time. You know your customer is actively looking for something related to your business. Some of the other paid channels aren’t as tailored to the searcher – you’re trying to interrupt someone while doing something else and catch their attention and get them to buy your product, sign up for your webinar, etc.
Social Media paid traffic. Most major social media channels also have paid traffic options, meaning you can buy ads from their platform and allow your content to be shown to more people.
When running ads for your business, paying attention to the traffic it’s driving is important.
Traffic that’s not engaged or converting isn’t helping grow your business. You want to review your analytics to see how many people are coming to your site from your paid traffic sources and, more importantly, how that traffic acts once it gets to your site.
If you’ve got 100 visitors a month from Pinterest, that might initially seem great; however, if 90% of those visitors are not engaged visitors and are leaving after 10 seconds or not engaging with at least two pages on your website, that’s not good traffic because they’re not going to buy from you. Just driving traffic is not the goal; the goal is to drive engaged traffic that is interested in what you offer. If they’re coming to your site but not signing up for your opt-in, freebies, or reading your content, then it’s not a good fit, and they’re not your ideal customer. You’re driving traffic, but it’s not the right traffic, and you need to adjust your strategy.
By comparison, let’s say that YouTube only sent you 15 visitors last month, but of those 15 visitors, 10 of them requested your opt-in, and five signed up for your free class. They also spent an average of 4:00 minutes on your site and visited five website pages. Those 15 visitors are super engaged and could potentially help your business grow more than the 100 visitors from Pinterest who weren’t engaged.
Start by keeping your Ideal Customer in mind at all times
Now that you understand the different ways you can drive traffic to a website and determine if the traffic you get is good, let’s talk about how to increase website traffic to help your business grow.
First, I want you to think about your Ideal Customer.
You get better results when focusing on your Ideal Customer from the beginning.
Do you have a budget to help you drive traffic to your website? If not, you’ll need to focus entirely on free marketing channels, and that’s OK too. You can do that. If you have money to invest in ads to help drive traffic to your website, you might be able to get a bump and move things faster, but it’s not required.
If your website is brand new and has never been optimized for search, then saying 50% of your traffic will come from SEO probably isn’t realistic, but you can work up to that. I have clients who get 70-80% of their traffic from SEO each month, but it didn’t start that way.
If your website is brand new and currently getting less than 50 visits a month, and most of those are from you checking out your website, then setting a goal of 150 visits from new people isn’t very realistic.
Start by being honest with yourself about your website traffic and budget, then set a 10-20% increase goal. Those small increases can add up quickly. Once you’ve tracked your website traffic for 12-24 months, you’ll see if there are seasonal patterns to note. I have a client who always has high traffic in January, March, and August; the rest of the year is steady. We know to expect bumps in those three months because that’s when their ideal customer is most interested in what they offer. If we see traffic drop slightly another month, we don’t worry about it as much as we would if traffic dropped during one of those critical months.
If your website got 1,000 visits last year, set a goal for 1,200 visits this year. That’s a 20% increase year-over-year if you can drive more traffic than that.
You need a strategy to increase your website traffic. Simply saying I’ll increase my website traffic by 20% isn’t making it happen. You have to decide which marketing channels you will use to drive traffic to your website.
Keep your Ideal Customer and marketing budget in mind as you make these decisions and set out your strategy. Will you focus exclusively on free or paid channels, or will you have a mix of both? Don’t depend on only one marketing channel for your website traffic because if you do and something happens, you’re in trouble. You want to use multiple channels.
Today a typical marketing mix includes – SEO to drive organic traffic, Social Media to nurture and drive followers to the website so they sign up for the email list, Email to drive your warm audience back to your website to consume your nurturing content or convert into paying customers, and may be paid ads via Google or social media to drive additional traffic to your site or additional visibility and then have those visitors follow the path you’ve laid out.
If you’ve chosen SEO as one of your traffic generation channels, that’s great. I can teach you a lot about how to do this. You’re going to need to start by creating content that’s going to connect with your audience and provide value for them (like this blog post hopefully does for you) and then optimize that content for the search engines so they understand what it’s about and want to show it to more people. There are particular things you need to do for SEO on each page or blog post that you create. Read this post on how to increase traffic to your website with SEO to learn what to do if SEO is going to be one of your traffic channels (and it should be your #1 channel because it’s that powerful and free).
Content Marketing or Blogging goes hand in hand with SEO to drive traffic to a website. You want to create great content that’s helpful to your Ideal Customer and then optimize that content for Google following the SEO rules so that they show it to more people. The more great optimized content you create, the more traffic you can drive to your site. To learn more about Blog SEO and using blogging to drive traffic to your website, read this post.
The most important thing to remember with social media marketing is that you want to drive people to your website to get them on your email list so that you can continue to nurture them and engage with them. Don’t just get them to follow you on social but encourage them to visit your website, download your freebie, sign up for a class, or whatever your offer is. You want them to follow you on social but more than that, if your goal is to drive website traffic via social media, you need to ensure they’re engaged and interested in what you offer and convert when they get to your site. Signing up for a freebie is a great first step in the conversion process. If you need help developing a freebie or opt-in, read this blog post to get ideas.
You want to be very strategic with the website traffic you’re driving and where you’re sending them on your website. Think about their intent when they’re searching with the keywords they’re using, and make sure you’re sending them to a page that will help them and answer their question. Consumer intent is super important. You don’t want to risk paying for traffic that doesn’t engage because they can’t easily find what they’re looking for once they get to your website.
You’ll want to check your website analytics once a month and report on your total website traffic and see how you’re tracking toward your goals. Are you on track or not? If you’re on track or ahead, great, but if you’re behind, you need to look at the situation and determine if you need to adjust your strategy or if your goal is too high. It’s possible you need to do something more than you originally planned to drive the traffic your website needs. The most important thing is to remain consistent, create great content, and provide value to your customers. Check out this blog post to learn what to track and how to interpret your numbers.
Start by choosing one channel to focus on first, learn what to do, and follow the best practices for that particular channel so that you can start getting website traffic. As that channel starts to drive traffic and you’re feeling good, start focusing on the next channel. You want to be sure you can keep up with what you were doing and what you want to start doing now. Don’t let one channel fall behind because you want to start another channel. You must be consistent, especially with social media, SEO, and blogging channels. If you’re ready to get started with SEO or blogging, get my free SEO Content Quick Start Guide today and learn how to get started.