Last week, we discussed the difference between page views and traffic. In the second part of the series, we’ll be discussing four more terms you need to understand when using your analytics program: traffic sources, entrance paths/landing pages, exit pages and bounce rate.
Web traffic comes from one of three places, inbound links (referrals), search engine traffic or direct traffic. Inbound links are any links available on the internet that lead to your site. Search engine traffic are the visits brought in from internet searches. Direct traffic occurs when someone types in (or uses their favorites list) to access your site. All three of these traffic sources can tell you something about your site. If you are getting a lot of traffic from other sites (inbound links), that is a sign that you have some quality links directing traffic your way. This is invaluable, especially when you are trying to build website traffic.
If your traffic is coming from search terms, this is a good indicator of a strong search engine ranking for those terms. It’s a sign that your SEO efforts are paying off. Finally, if you have traffic coming from direct sources, it means that people are visiting your site repetitively. They either remember the URL, or they have added it to their favorites; either way, it’s a sign that your site has made an impression.
Where the traffic enters your site can also be informative, especially if you are using different landing pages for ad campaigns. Entrance paths show you which pages on your website are most commonly the first page a visitor lands on. If you notice that a few pages are getting most of your traffic, it can show you what people are most interested in when they land on your site. This might tell you which of your products or services visitors are most interested in, or what information is most helpful to visitors (which means you may want to add more pages of content on that subject).
Exit pages are just as important. They show you what page visitors were on when they left your site. If you notice that one or more pages are exit pages for the majority of your traffic, it’s time to make changes. Update the content and include a call of action or links to other, similar pages. Do what you can to keep visitors on your site past that page. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to consider purchasing your goods or services, or completing the goals are that you have for your site.
Bounce rate is fairly self-explanatory. It is a measure of how many site visitors leave, or bounce, within a few seconds of landing on your site. Just like a bouncing ball, they land briefly, and then move on to a different website. A high bounce rate may mean that your site isn’t relevant to the keywords it’s ranking for, and that users need to go elsewhere to find the information they’re looking for. It may also mean that, although the information on your website is stellar, the layout, navigation or other features make it difficult to use. Make the purpose (and benefits) of your site immediately obvious, from the moment a user lands on your page, and you can expect to have a relatively low bounce rate.