Analysis: What is the Best Source of Web Traffic?

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Start_backgWe all know that getting heaps of traffic is really important for any blog or website. In fact, without traffic there is really not a lot of chance of having long term success.

But what a lot of new bloggers don’t realize is that sometimes the majority of your traffic can be absolutely useless for your blogging goals.

Today you’re going to learn:

  • How to spot bad traffic when it hits (and affects!) your blog
  • What good traffic looks like and why it’s valuable
  • How to tap into better and better sources each day

I’m going to try and show you this by looking at my own stats and doing some basic analysis.

Let’s do it.

What makes for good (and valuable) traffic?

Last year I went into some deeper detail about what constitutes bad traffic so I’ll just give a bit of an overview here.

To my mind, traffic is good if it…

  • doesn’t bounce
    Traffic that bounces from your site as soon as it hits your article is a waste of time and actually really bad for SEO. Bounce rate often has a lot to do with on-site factors like design and load time, but most of the time it is because the source of your traffic doesn’t match with your goals and outcomes.
  • takes a basic action
    We always want our visitors to take an action when they touch base with our website. For example, they might tweet an article or they might just click through to read another article. This is usually a sign of a pretty well planned traffic source.
  • takes an advanced action
    And advanced action is what we are really after. This is where the visitor signs up for a mailing list or purchases a product that you are promoting. These advanced actions are usually the reason we are trying to get traffic in the first place so being able to convert is a sign of a good blog meeting a really good traffic source.

Of course, these are some very basic measurements for what valuable traffic looks like but they will help to be nice little guide posts for us during the rest of this article.

Some sticky issues when looking at traffic

Whenever you examine your traffic stats you’ll come to notice that there are a few places where you powers of “traffic stalking” become limited.

For example, it’s very easy to track a visitor’s origin, actions and exit if you are doing so from a paid Facebook campaign that uses cookies (or pixels) and syncs up with your own analytics software.

It’s a little bit more tricky, however, if you want to track that visitor to a sale that takes place on an affiliate’s website where you can’t see the final traffic.

Sometimes you can make it work, other times you can’t.

Today’s analysis isn’t going to go into that much detail, but I encourage you to start digging into your stats and setting up goals and campaigns to really see what actions people are taking after they have arrived on your blog from various origins.

An analysis of web traffic sources

What I’m going to do now is look at four sources of traffic from my Clicky Web Analytics and talk you through what I’m seeing.

For some of you this might be a bit basic, but I’m hoping it will give you some insights into what kind of things we should be looking out for when it comes to tapping into better traffic sources.

Remember, there is no point in doing all of that blog writing, outreach marketing and blogging SEO if we just end up with visitors who do nothing but increase out bounce rate.

1. Organic Google search traffic

Google is by far and away my number one source of traffic in terms of numbers of visitors. I’ve warned about this in the past and I’d like to again now – if you rely on Google too much for your money-making you can end up getting hurt by a penalty or an algorithm change.

That being said, it does make my business a lot of money so there is no point in ignoring it. The best thing you can do if you want to go after Google traffic is just make sure you have a backup plan or a safety net. This might mean having multiple websites/blogs, or it might be having a healthy mailing list that will still be active and engaged should something go wrong with your site.

google traffic

Here’s a screenshot of my Google traffic for the last few days. As you can see it has quite a low bounce rate (which is good) but also people aren’t taking too many actions and are only looking at one or two pages per visit.tooltip

The good thing is that on average people are spending almost five minutes reading the content. This is a good statistic and tells me that the traffic itself is quite good, but the site design or the way I write articles might need to be changed to encourage people to click more links.

2. StumbleUpon

Earlier in the month Blog Tyrant got Stumbled and received a substantial influx of traffic in just a few hours. This particular source of traffic works by votes; an original Stumbler submits the article and then others “like” the post if they enjoy what they see.

The big problem I’ve always had with StumbleUpon is that users are generally just mindlessly clicking through submissions using a toolbar that is installed on their browser. Sometimes you’ll hit “Stumble” so often that you’ll see over 50 articles in a minute!

What this means is that the traffic has a low time-on-site value and usually bounces quite quickly. The good thing about it is that it can quite easily go “viral” due to the large numbers of eyes that hit your page, but I’ve never found it to be of much long-term value.

Unfortunately this seems to be the norm for bookmarking sites like Delicious, Reddit, etc. You get a big hit of traffic (and maybe crash your servers!) but then no real long term benefits because the traffic isn’t that targeted.

stumble

Here’s the stats from last week’s Stumble visitors. The bounce rate is almost half which means you’re getting a lot of traffic and not many actions. The time on site is actually a lot higher than what Google Analytics reports and I suspect the traffic is quite useless.

3. Facebook and Facebook Ads

Facebook is interesting because it has an organic component as well as the Facebook Ads section where you can pay for views or clicks. This format is notoriously excellent in terms of quality of traffic if you can get your targeting right. Unfortunately that normally means paying for it or getting some good mentions.

facebook traffic

Here is my Facebook traffic during the last week or so. During this time I did only one post but it was mentioned by Darren Rowse:

darren rowse

Darren has a very active Facebook account and it clearly pushes some good traffic. As you can see they spent an average of six minutes on site, and the bounce rate was even lower than that which arrives by Google.

facebook stats

The great thing about Facebook Ads (other than their awesome inbuilt stats) is that you can use a conversion pixel which allows you to see whether or not people have reached a certain page on your blog. For example, if I run an advert promoting Blog Tyrant I can stick the pixel on my sign up page (it’s invisible) and then see how many people from that advert end up on that page. Very cool and great for removing the guess work.

4. Website Referrals

The last lot of the stats that I wanted to show you was that of some website referrals (links from other blogs and websites that aren’t search engines or social sites).

To me, these are really valuable sources of traffic because they have really good SEO value, are an endorsement from the website itself and generally pass along traffic that is really highly relevant.

Remember, whenever someone links to you blog it is as if that blog/website is saying, “Here’s a really great website that I trust“. This carries a lot of weight that can often mean the traffic is highly ready for action.

moz

A few months ago I got a link from Moz and it has sent a lot of excellent traffic that has converted into a large number of subscribers. The traffic isn’t huge (90 visitors in November) but the bounce rate is one of the lowest I’ve seen and people spend almost seven minutes on the site.

How to tap into better sources of traffic

Finding better sources of traffic seems to be a combination of experimenting with new ideas and looking at what you’re already doing well.

Services like Teacup Analytics (use “blogtyrant” to get beta access for one month for free [not affiliate]) can help you quickly see which content is doing well and keep an eye on any trends.

teacup

Once you’ve had a look around at what’s going on with your traffic you can set up little “achievables” to monitor how your progress is going. I like their interface – it’s a nice clean way to get a quick overview at what your sources are looking like.

The idea is to identify content that is performing really well and then work backwards to find out where that traffic is coming from. Often you can find little gold nuggets by looking at it like this.

If you find a traffic source that is converting particularly well, you can then try and access that source again via different formats.

For example, if you got a link in one of their posts you could try pitching to get a guest post or seeing if you can buy some advertising space on their site.

Secondly, if you’re getting good traffic to one particular post then you might want to expand on that post by writing more articles or creating new bonuses that go deeper and deeper into the topic and then adding them to original article. This means that these new items will be more likely to get shared and noticed.

infographic

For example, I added an original infographic (that’s a preview above) to my article about the perfect blog post and it has since been pinned dozens and dozens of times.tooltip Remember, all of these pins represent a new backlink which is extremely valuable even if the individual pin doesn’t pass along that much new traffic.

So what’s the best source of traffic?

I hope by now you’ve kind of realized that there really isn’t any one source of magically perfect traffic. Sorry about that…

Each blog will have different results based on things like where the traffic comes from, how you were mentioned/referred, where the traffic lands and how good your on-site funnel is.

The most important thing is to keep experimenting and creating useful content that helps people with their daily lives. This is the kind of thing that converts well and gets shared around.

Where does your best traffic come from? Please leave a comment as I’d be really interested to learn what is working for you blog.

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80 Comments... Leave yours.

  • Darius Gaynor

    Great post! Pinterest traffic is great if you are selling products. Reddit traffic is great if you sell services. I like FB traffic for collecting emails. Of course Google’s organic traffic is the best. Cheers!


    1. Darius Gaynor

      I forgot to mention to definitely not depend on just one traffic source. Did that mistake with a project before.


    2. Ramsay

      Hey Darius. Why do you say that Reddit is good for services?


      1. Darius Gaynor

        If you offer web design, crowdfunding promotion, etc kind of services. You can use subreddits to share your blog content and get the traffic on your email list or to contact you about the service. Just make sure you are sharing 80% of the time other people’s content.


        1. Ramsay

          Interesting. Thanks for sharing mate.


          1. Darius Gaynor

            Welcome!


  • Mohamed

    I still have a newish blog – one of my posts got picked up by SU so I’ve been getting a few thousand visitors from there, but with an incredibly high bounce rate.. Going to try to diversify into other sources from here on out!


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah the bounce rate is not awesome for SU I’ve found.


  • Anne

    I know how to identify my different sources of traffic but I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at the bounce rate for each or even if it is possible in GA?

    What would typically be a good bounce rate? Mine is certainly nowhere near these figures!


  • Julian

    Hey Ramsay,

    Good stuff, man. The bounce rates on all these 4 sources are very impressive. Especially 1, 3, and 4.

    I’ve heard that StumbleUpon can drive you tons of traffic. But most of the time it’ll be sorta spammy. Like the toolbar clicks you mentioned.

    Facebook ads is probably the easiest way to get good traffic. Their targeting features are awesome, right!?

    Anyway, I enjoyed the post. I like your search traffic stats. Hope to get there too someday. 😀

    Later, Tyrant.

    – Julian


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks mate. Let me know if I can help in any way.


  • Lucy Thornton

    Great article – so many businesses just look at traffic – is it going up or down?

    But if it’s poor quality it can so easily skew your general numbers – this approach of reviewing by traffic source is an effective way of deciding what to do next – i.e. do more of what’s bringing the best quality traffic.

    Love it – thanks, Lucy


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Lucy!


  • Anton Kishkin

    What about traffic from instagram ads? Somebody tested it?


    1. Ramsay

      I haven’t done that actually but I have seen a few cool studies. I’ll try and dig them up.


  • Robin khokhar

    Hi Ramsay,
    I agree with you in your each point. Mainly Bounce about bounce, like stumble upon and reddit has not done any good for my site instead both these sites have hammered my bounce. Although these sites helped me to get some extra traffic but not that worth.

    However, i enjoyed reading your post.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Vishal Ostwal

    I believe that the perfect kind of traffic is the one that comes from either Google or newsletter subscribers (the classic traffic!)

    After this, I think the best traffic comes from the social media sites where the target audience hangs out.

    …and the traffic that comes when people finally start talking about your work and share it. Awesome! 🙂

    I usually talk a lot about the sites and people that I’m a fan of.

    I would love to have such “real” traffic in future from the people who read my blogs.


    1. Ramsay

      Have you done any experimenting with ads?


      1. Vishal Ostwal

        No.

        Perhaps I’ll try experimenting with ads after the new blog gets launched. Never had a chance to do that in the past, but I’m managing to do things somehow this time. Facebook is what we might aim at.

        My current blog is on hold as it became too difficult to fix everything at once. It’s like all the mistakes of my past had befallen on me at once, which is now causing some trouble.

        Both blogs are likely going to take some months to go live again.

        Usually nothing seems to be working, yet trying hard hoping to get some sort of success in the future.

        This time – less mistakes.


  • sarfraz khan

    For me google organic traffic converts the best but the bounce rate is not so awesome as yours. Other sources are linking to different websites of the same niche and I get good traffic from there also. But want to collect huge amount of email addresses like you. I only have less than 50 now.


    1. Ramsay

      Yep, that’s the most important thing.


  • Yohay

    Great overview Ramsay! I get the lowest bounce rate and the highest page views / visit from the regular users, mostly coming from the newsletters. I assume this is not surprising.
    Enlarging the mailing lists and sending auto-responders are the best ways of raising the weight of pageviews that are independent of external sources. Unfortunately, getting to do these auto-responders is always too deep in my to-do list..


    1. Ramsay

      Why is that?


  • Paul Back

    Hey Ramsay

    I just touched on the same subject in my latest post. Traffic means different things to different people – depending on your niche, and your site Facebook or twitter could be a great source of traffic, and for others not so much.

    I think google is a pretty solid bet for most people, it is for me followed by social media ( Twitter and Google+)

    Have you had much success using Tumblr for traffic? I had worked on a niche site with my friend – and for that site Tumblr is providing the majority of the traffic to the site, but I haven’t seen many bloggers using this avenue.


    1. Ramsay

      Tumblr can be massive. I don’t personally use it but that’s probably a missed opportunity as the traffic explosion over the last five years there has been massive. Any tips?


  • Emily

    Great info, Ramsay. I started my first blog in 2009, then a few yrs. later quit for a variety of reasons. About a yr ago, I began again, this time determined not to quit. A lot has changed between then and now, and I appreciate blogs like yours that are helping me get my mindset and ideas about getting traffic up-to-date. 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Emily. Welcome back. I’m glad it helped somehow.


  • Ajay Kumar

    Hi, I recently started following your blog and its nice, if you get visitors from social sites like Facebook, Reddit or Pinterest then you are unable to generate high earning from google adsence, so always focus on organic visitors like from google, bing or yahoo.. it will increase your RMS


  • Matt

    Wow, your bounce rate is amazing! I thought mine was impressive at 30-40%! 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      Each niche is different for sure.


  • alqintara

    another great article.

    learning new things from this blog each time i read your posts.

    keep up the good work Tyrant.


    1. Ramsay

      Glad you’re enjoying it!


  • Pete Kici

    Good post-Blog Tyrant your one of the few people on my list that I follow and read Thank you.I am Looking at podcasts as a source of traffic but probably from a video first something like a training video webinar format and then strip the audio into a podcast all leading to a product or service that helps the user solve a problem for them would you also create a blog post from this and spin it through community outreach / social media ?


  • Nate

    Great post Ramsay. You can add this post to your effective-posts list because (this visitor) didn’t bounce ;).

    How good is Twitter traffic? I don’t have a site launched yet but I do spend about an hour a day building my Twitter audience. I increased my number of followers by about 18K over the last year. Now I am averaging about 115 new followers per day. I get them by searching for keywords in my niche and following people who have tweeted those keywords. I get about 1/4 to follow me back. I tweet inspirational quotes that I write fwiw.

    Is this time well spent? The tweets I write are great inspirations for future blog posts, but most of my time is spend on actions that increase my number of followers.

    Again, great post. I’m definitely going to dig into more of your articles (and click on your affiliate links for any product I will use in the future when I’m ready to launch my site).


    1. Ramsay

      I’ve never had a lot of luck with Twitter but I am testing some ads out there now. It’s hard because the Twitter traffic doesn’t register on my stats so it’s a bit more guesswork.


  • Brynn

    I recently started a blog (like very recent…a couple months) and I cannot thank you enough for all of your great articles.

    I’m not what I would call extremely tech savvy, especially when it comes to the world of SEOs, web traffic, etc. That being said, your articles are extremely easy to follow along and so helpful.

    I’ve already used a few of your tips and have seen an increase in traffic, mostly from Facebook but a few from SEO searches, based off your advice about blog post titles.

    Sincerely,
    Brynn


    1. Ramsay

      I’m so glad to hear that it’s helping you. That makes it worthwhile.


  • L. Whitefeather

    Thank you for the article and information. I know absolutely nothing about blogging – until now


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks for commenting.


  • Eze Sylvester

    Search engine traffic is certainly the best. I started my blog last year and i have nine unique post already but no google visitors. I even tried searching some of my keywords on google but it’s not showing up.
    Though i get traffic from social networks I feel that’s not enough. Now i’m stuck.


    1. Ramsay

      It takes some time to get indexed properly. You need more back links to your site. This happens by getting mentioned on other blogs, leaving comments or doing guest posts. Try to find other websites that you can write on and link back to your blog.


  • Lisa Sicard

    Hi Ramsay, I would say the basics, organic is best followed by Facebook, Twitter and the another top social network of choice. I don’t think those social bookmarking sites do much anymore. I found my Stumble Upon included a high bounce rate too.
    I think blog commenting, emails, and being active on social is great too!
    Of course your content has to be good too. Nice list of sources!


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Lisa. Agreed on the comments.


  • jill brock

    Hi Ramsay, Thanks. Great information and well expressed. I know you’re a really good writer so thought you might like to look up the word ‘notorious’. Really enjoy your blogs.


    1. Ramsay

      How about that! I never knew that word had negative connotations! Thanks.


    2. jill brock

      As they say in the Caribbean – ‘no problem mon.’


  • champu de caballo con biotina en peru

    Los «milagros del champú de caballo» ya se habían difundido
    ya antes de la salida al mercado del producto
    especializado para personas.


  • Reba

    Organic search results from Google are best for me, but this article has turned me on to try and get better results from Facebook … thanks!


    1. Ramsay

      Let me know how you go.


  • Kirsten

    On one of my blogs, Pinterest is the main referral source. It’s interesting because Pinterest means (usually) a high bounce rate. But it also brings crazy steady traffic. Unlike Stumble (which I’ve had some experience with) where it goes nuts and disappears, things live on for a LONG time on Pinterest, which can be great. (Are you using Pinterest?) Any source, really, can have that same thing you warned about with Google. Pinterest changed an algorithm in the summer and cut my traffic literally in half overnight. It wasn’t GREAT traffic, so I didn’t much care, but it was a great warning to me that I needed to diversify, AND that I didn’t care so much about pageviews. I want subscribers. My Pinterest peeps aren’t subscribing. My other, smaller blog (Create If Writing), has more Google and Facebook and Twitter traffic (Pinterest is growing as well) and I just surpassed the number of email subscribers that I have on the blog with literally about 30 times the traffic. There are a LOT of reasons for this, but much of it has to do with the quality of traffic I’m getting to my larger blog and the type of email subscription I offer there.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah so many people seem to do well with Pinterest. I don’t like using it as a platform, but the little graphics and things I make for Blog Tyrant defo do get pinned a lot. Hasn’t really impacted traffic though…. not sure why.


  • Evan

    Yo Ramsay!

    Thanks for this article, it was beastly!

    It’s encouraging to look around and see tons of people building viable businesses around what they love to do, and sharing content that they are excited about.

    I just finished the 17.8k “Not a Model” case study which was enormously helpful for the e-mail funnel that I am building now. I’m putting something exciting together for that and can’t wait.

    Anyways, I know this might be trick to answer because there are tons of variables, but as a rule of thumb, how long do you consistently need to publish content to see some decent traffic from the search engines?

    I’m balancing my content between writing for people and researching keywords to use some SEO practices in order to get both flowing… Insight would be helpful!

    Thanks brother; keep it up

    – Evan


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Evan.

      Glad the case study was useful.

      To be honest, I never stick to publishing schedules. I always go for the motto of writing when I have something good to write about. I always try to publish longer form content, and I think that has made a difference.


  • Slavko Desik

    Hey man, some great takeaways here.

    As you’ve said, Google traffic is not only worthless, but harmful if it’s bad traffic. My advice would be to figure out intent first, and then check in analytic every once in a while to see if you’ve figured it right.
    Not figuring out intent can cause pogo sticking- people leaving your site and clicking on other listings in the SERPs, or even refining their search query which is even worse.

    As for StumbleUpon, I never though it would generate so many views. Glad to have added it 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      Hey, just to be sure, I didn’t say that Google traffic was useless…

      🙂


      1. Slavko Desik

        Got myself carried away 🙂


  • Sapna Pabbi

    Great content! Really touched on some key points. Thank you!


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks!


  • Maria Geronico

    Since my blog is under a 3rd party provider, I have very limited possibilities. I can see the traffic sources to my blog from wordpress analytics, but I can’t go deeper on the users’ behavior.
    For the moment, one of my biggest traffic sources is the blog of a Spanish celebrity, which I don’t think that is very related to the content I post – I’m just setting up my Analytics account, and I’m sure that I’m going to discover a very high bounce rate from these visitors!

    Bests!! M


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah having good analytics is really important.


  • Paul

    Hello Mr. Ramsay,
    Thanks for the information. Sharing on Facebook doesn’t really work for me. I wonder why out of 600+ people following my blog on Facebook, only 33-40 get the chance to see my post on their timeline. It’s funny how Facebook makes you pay for ads, even to share your work with your own followers.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah it’s called Edge Rank if you want to Google it. It’s annoying.


  • Deepak Gera

    Hi Ramsay, Great article, I understand that its always necessary to do some auditing about your traffic and how this leads to conversion, But what I was thinking initially, this audit make sense for bloggers who are having very nice traffic. When it comes to new bloggers who are actually struggling to get traffic anyhow.

    While looking into your post now I am thinking that it makes sense for new bloggers as well. This analysis can be done and based on the results, more investment could be done for beneficial campaigns.

    Nice work.


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Deepak. Yes I think so. Figure out where your traffic is coming from (even at low levels) and go for more of that if it’s converting well.


  • Dirck

    Hello Ramsay! That’s a very good information. I get a very good conversion rate from organic google search visitors but the facebook ads proves of no use for me. May be I need to focus targeting the correct audience or location.Thanks again 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      What kind of campaigns are you running?


  • Vic

    This is a great post, thank you! Improving my bounce rate is something I am working on at the moment, so keeping an eye on my traffic and the effect it has on it is really useful.


    1. Ramsay

      Glad it helps!


  • SalesFizz

    Great insight into how not all traffic is equal. Early on any traffic is good, but if it’s not converting then there’s not much point. Still building my site so I’ll take it all.


  • Bhajan

    Great article on driving traffic to blog!


  • Pankaj Dhawan

    I would say that I am getting lot of referral traffic for now but I Google and Facebook traffic is very less for now. I am hoping to increase my traffic from Google first and then Facebook. Social Media is very powerful tool one can use these days.


  • Jeffery Danquah

    Nice article and I loved it. Your website design is perfect but the reason why you dont get too many actions from your visitors is that you dont have sidebars on your homepage and on your posts .And maybe a feature like the (recommended posts section) But by the way, your website is really fast without the sidebars and too many posts on the homepage. If is because of website speed thats why you dont add sidebars to your site then you can add the { SEE ALSO} feature in your posts.


  • Jeffery Danquah

    Sorry I just saw your sidebar posts


  • Sharon Powers

    I just launched my website today. In fact, just hours ago and now I’m kind of waiting…I purchased a small scale ad on Twitter and want to see how that goes. What’s a good general rule of thumb for steady growth? In other words, should I expect that day one will have a surge in visitors, and then it will trail off until I generate new content? What does healthy website growth look like in the first month or so? Is the launch the most important time to gain traction?


  • Jana

    Thanks for great article.


  • Sonia

    I have been running facebook campaigns for quite some time and so far they have delivered great results. And the plus point is that you get that traffic at very low cost.


  • Zachary DiBeradin

    Thank you for the detailed blog post. I have had images on Pinterest, but I didn’t even think about all of the pins creating backlinks to the website or blog. I was thinking it all stayed internal to the pinterest platform.


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