Data, Search Traffic and Sales, Oh My!

By Business.com Editorial Staff
Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Chasing after every person who is considered search traffic with equal attention will result in too much time wasted on people who won't buy

A funny thing happens when a business goes online (or starts there). When I walk into a shop I know that the owner or sales staff have looked at me, determined in their heads what my likelihood of making a purchase is, guesstimated my disposable income, and will react to me based on that. While sometimes they are wrong, they’ll use past experiences to make educated guesses at the time and attention they will need to spend catering to me. And they don’t need to be right 100% of the time for this to work, just most of the time. Chasing after every person who walks into the store with equal attention and vigor will result in too much time wasted on people who won’t buy and too little time on those who likely will. This is where web traffic gets funny.

Related: How Much Extra Traffic Does Your Blog Bring In?

Too many people look at their analytics traffic in a lump or segment out their traffic into its primary sources (search, PPC, etc.) and leave it at that. This is a case of some data being almost as bad as no data. Let’s pull this back to the brick-and-mortar example. Let’s say you’re selling men’s watches at your store and a customer enters. Here are three scenarios:

  1. No Analytics: You are blindfolded and deaf. You will show everybody everything having no idea who they are or if they’re even still in the store, and hope for the best.
  2. Core Analytics (you know what your traffic sources are and key metrics like pageviews): You are deaf but not blind. You can see the gender of the customer and what they look like but not any real details about what they want.
  3. Keyword & Page Level Data; Conversion Goals and Filters/Segments: Not only do you have great hearing and sight, you just might have a touch of ESP. Not only do you have a good idea of who they are, but also what they likely want and how they want it.

I list these off to put into context how you are likely reading your statistics, and if you’re interested in sales, you need your full arsenal. After all, data is only useful if you know what it means. If I say to you, look at this chart – it’s showing a solid upward trend you might think, “That’s great!” And maybe it is. Or maybe it’s your bounce rate. Or maybe it’s a chart of the temperature outside as we head into summer. So when it comes to search traffic, be sure you’re looking at the right data.

Related: Get help with online marketing from an experienced agency.

Dig Dig Dig

It would be impossible to list off everything you need to know about your analytics here to get a grasp on what’s producing sales but here are a few key areas.

  1. Keywords: Don’t assume all your search traffic is equal. Dig into the individual keywords and see which ones specifically are leading visitors to your goals.
  2. Exit pages: Look at which pages people are exiting from who entered from search and from specific phrases or groups of phrases and consider what their intent would be and why they left.
  3. Advanced Segments: Most people haven’t played around with their Advanced Segments through Google Analytics. Do. This area allows you to setup specific traffic to pull data on and compare that with other segments or your traffic as a whole. Essentially, you can look quickly at your branded vs. non-branded traffic and each page you go to, see who’s doing what. Of course you can extend this into other areas and compare your traffic that leaves quickly, or bounces, or any myriad of parameters to get a better idea of the differences between your sales traffic and that which traffic tends not to purchase.

So What?

Why does this matter? I could counter with, “Why does it matter that the person selling Rolex watches knows whether they are speaking with a 54 year old gentleman in a suit or an 11 year old child?” With this data in hand you can pave the way to address possible site issues that lead some types of traffic to leave your site and hone in on the traffic that does convert well so in your next round of keyword research you’re better able to focus in and qualify the traffic you are pursuing.

Related: Your Introduction to Owning Your Audience

All I’ve tried to do here is stress the importance of digging into your Analytics. Unfortunately we can’t cover all the methods to do so and pull the information you need if you’re not already a solid user of it. Google is obviously very happy to help you learn and they’ve setup a section of their site to do just that As well there’s a great book on Amazon written by Avanash Kaushik that I highly recommend.

About The Author: Dave Davies is the owner of Beanstalk Internet Marketing and has over a decade of experience in SEO and marketing online. He has spoken at numerous SES, SMX and other Internet Marketing conferences, writes and blogs regularly and hosts a weekly radio show on WebmasterRadio.fm.

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