Given the nature of my niche, you can only imagine how often I get questions about how to generate more targeted website traffic.
Understandably so – traffic is the bloodline of our businesses.
However, there's something you need to understand about traffic generation right off the bat: there's nothing new under the sun.
Your basic traffic generation is always the same no matter the niche and your job is to fully understand your existing possibilities and apply them to your business better than the next guy.
Let's take a look at the heart of traffic generation and see what exactly our potential traffic sources could be and what they mean to our websites in practical terms.
What is Website Traffic?
Your website traffic is not limited to purely the number of visitors to your site, but also the number of pages they click on and the amount of time they spend on your site.
So, when we strive to increase blog traffic, we need to work on all three of these factors:
- Number of visitors.
- Number of pages.
- Amount of time.
What Is the Best Kind of Traffic You'd Want to Get?
That's why it's so important to not only get the pure quantity of traffic down, but how qualified and interested that traffic really is in what you have to offer.
Thus, it's always important for us to see how your traffic interacts with your site.
Do your visitors bounce right back to where they came from because they didn't find the information they were looking for? Work on your bounce rate.
Did you provide them with additional resources to check out in the post they just read? Use deep linking.
Did you encourage your readers to interact with you and other visitors by leaving a comment?
It only makes sense that you can do a whole lot more with a couple of thousands of steady and highly targeted monthly visitors than with tens of thousands of visitors who could care less about what you really have to say.
What Are Your Basic Traffic Sources?
Google Analytics has a great, although sometimes confusing, way to classify traffic sources.
According to them, there are three basic traffic sources:
- Direct traffic.
- Referral traffic.
- Search engine traffic.
Let's take a look at each one to see how it impacts our websites.
What Is DIRECT TRAFFIC?
This by far is one of the most confusing traffic sources there is and I'll be happy to shed some light on it.
direct traffic is the type of traffic that comes to your site without any referral, as in someone types your domain name in the URL box or follows a bookmark.
Therefore, direct traffic is not the traffic that came to your site by clicking a link from another website (like Twitter, Facebook, another blog you guest posted or left a comment on), it's not the traffic that comes from your paid campaigns (like Google AdWords – that would be under “Other” traffic sources in Google Analytics) and it's not the traffic that results from someone typing a query on a search engine.
However, and that's where it gets a little confusing, direct traffic is not limited to the two sources I mentioned above: typing in the URL and coming from a browser bookmark.
It can also mean:
- Traffic coming from untracked email campaigns and newsletters;
- Traffic from links in documents like Word, Excel, or PDFs;
- Traffic coming from 302 and some 301 redirects (depending on server or browser settings)
- Traffic from security-restricted environments, where no referrers are passed
- and many more.
Since this is not meant to be a thorough investigation of where your potential direct traffic can come from, here's a good source on that: an article published by Avinash Kaushik.
Assuming that most of us don't want to dig into the fascinating technical details of direct traffic, but simply want to learn what direct traffic means to our websites, let's talk about that.
Is Direct Traffic Important to Your Website?
Extremely and here's why.
1. Brand recognition.
When a visitor comes to your site by typing in your URL in the address bar, it means that they've already recognized you as an authority on the subject and are coming back to get more.
When you think of traffic generation and associate that thought with Traffic Generation Cafe and come to visit me as a result, it means that I am doing many things right in terms of branding this blog as an expert advice hub on the subject.
2. Independent source.
Once you develop it as a source and continue providing valuable content, it will continue to grow all on its own.
3. Reader loyalty.
In a way, direct traffic is the most targeted traffic you can get. This source brings you visitors who are already familiar with what you have to offer and they CHOOSE to come back for me.
This factor also makes them some of the warmest, the easiest to convert leads you can ever get – you don't need to prove yourself to them, they already know what you are all about.
How Do You Increase Your Direct Traffic?
Now that you see how valuable this traffic source is to your business, I hope you are ready to see what you can do to develop this kind of loyal readership.
1. Become the master of your niche.
Whatever niche you chose for your website, stick with it, keep it narrow, and become a true expert in it.
Don't blog about anything and everything under the sun; stay focused. Remember, the whole idea is to develop a brand on a particular subject and become the best expert in that field there is.
Then and only then, readers will associate you with the subject and come back for more.
Relentlessly provide value.
Find ways to give giving a whole new meaning.
Here are some examples for inspiration:
- My Friday Blog Audit series: in this series, I did extremely thorough audits of different blogs to show my readers what practical changes they can take back to their own businesses to significantly improve them.
- Sunday Coffee with Ana: for a while, I did live broadcasts every Sunday morning on my Facebook fan page, where I invited my readers to come and interact with me live, ask questions, network, etc.
- Most recently, I offered my readers to answer any traffic generation questions they had for me. I knew that I was opening Pandora's box in terms of all the comments I'd get and all the work I would have to put into answering those questions. However, the result: stronger and more engaged community, is definitely worth it.
Creating opportunities to get your readers involved is the key.
3. Pick a great domain name.
You need a domain name that is easy to remember, spell, and come back to.
That's another reason keywords in a domain work so well – think of traffic generation, and TrafficGenerationCafe.com comes to mind easily.
Check out this great post by Daniel Scocco on what makes a domain name great.
4. Build a community.
No blog is an island.
Building a community of responsive readers should be one of your primary goals of building a successful blog.
Why should you care?
Your blog community is what will bring you constant and consistent direct traffic.
They are the ones that will spread the word about your blog via social media (which happens to be also very important for your search engine ranking optimization); they are your best source of natural link building; they are the ones who are most likely to provide your blog with social proof you need to draw in new readership.
How to Track Direct Traffic in Google Analytics
Tracking your direct traffic in Google Analytics is very simple: from your Dashboard go to Traffic Souces ==> Direct Traffic.
However, there is one caveat you need to keep in mind when tracking your Google Analytics direct traffic: yourself.
How to Exclude Your IP Address
If there's one thing that can mess up your direct traffic stats, it's tracking the amount of time you spend on your own blog, which my guess is quite a bit, plus any outsourcers you might hire to help you out: web designers, IT professionals, etc.
Good thing it's easy to filter out those stats; just follow these simple directions:
1. Establish your IP address as well as IP addresses of all of your blog helpers. The simplest way to do it is to go to http://whatismyipaddress.com/.
2. Once you have your list, go to your Analytics Settings and find Filter Manager at the bottom right.
3. Once you click on Filter Manager, fill out the required fields and press Save.
Once you apply the filter, your direct traffic stats might drop significantly, but at least you'll be tracking all the right things from this point on.
Direct Traffic Marketing Takeaway
Since I couldn't stop myself from writing this ode to direct traffic – yes, it's that important, if you ask me, I'll have to get into referral traffic and search engine traffic in a future post.
Let me leave you with this last thought about your direct traffic: start with cultivating this traffic segment first.
Readership loyalty and brand recognition will be the first thing to take your blog to the new heights – above any other traffic source out there.
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