Understanding 3 Main Sources of Website Traffic

Tons of traffic can be a bad thing. Very bad. One of my favorite billboards of all time, strategically placed outside the Fort Pitt Tunnels in Pittsburgh showed a closeup image of the iconic Heinz Ketchup bottle with a caption underneath that read, “Unfortunately, ths is not the only bottleneck Pittsburgh is famous for”.  Great advertising-acknowledging an irritating problem and at the same time, celebrating one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved brands. I was still annoyed, however, having to sit in traffic for an extra twenty-five minutes (albeit a great ad had me entertained).

Tons of traffic can also be a good thing in my world. Very good. Online marketers, search engine optimizers and Google Analytics (not to mention business owners) love website traffic. In your Google Analytics reports, you’ll see some of the same entries come up again and again in your data tables. Where are your website visitors coming from? What should you do with the information? Here are a few “Traffic Sources” terms defined.

  • Direct-Visitors who visited the site by typing the URL directly into their browser. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Hold on. ‘Direct’ can also refer to the visitors who clicked on the links from their own bookmarks/favorites, untagged links within emails, or links from documents that don’t include tracking variables (such as a link within a PDF file or a Word document). There are a variety of other “direct sources” but these are a few examples. Google Analytics sometimes terms “unknowns” as “direct” so be aware of this when reading these numbers.
  • Referral-Visitors referred by links on another website. Referral traffic is Google’s method of reporting visits that came to your site from sources outside of its search engine. When someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on a different website, Analytics tracks the click as a referral visit to the second site. For example, if you click on the Fina Promos link here, you will be considered part of referral traffic, since this link connects you to a different website and it was found by you outside of Google search.
  • Organic-Visitors referred by an unpaid search engine listing, e.g. Google.com search. This is my favorite traffic source. The traffic that comes from organic sources is extremely important. Three immediate benefits include trust and credibility, inbound marketing and high ranking in search engines.


Once you have learned from your Google Analytics Reporting where your traffic is coming from, you can begin to make intelligent decisions for your website.  For example, If  your bounce rate is high (the percentage of a single page visit without exploring your site further) that could be an indicator that site entrance pages are not relevant to your visitors, or that your CTA (call to action) is not prominent. Possibly you are not giving your reader a reason to explore your site or landing page further.

Bounce rate of a website has nothing to do with “Time spent on a webpage/website” (a misconception common about marketers and webmasters.) Bounce rate speaks to the quality of traffic to your site and/or landing pages. Bounce rate can be a powerful metric for measuring the defined goals of your page or site.

Fina Marketing Group can help direct your traffic. Tons of traffic can be a good thing. Very good. Be sure your website traffc sources get your readers where they want to go.


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