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How to Tell Where Your Website Traffic is Coming From

After months of trial and error, your website is finally getting a couple extra thousand visitors every month. You think, I’m doing something right! Break out the champagne!

Not so fast. While an increase in website traffic is definitely something to celebrate, you need to first understand where these visitors are coming from. Someone coming to your site from organic search will behave differently than someone coming from Twitter.

Here are three ways to tell where your website traffic is coming from:

1. Create a Basic Site Survey

The easiest way to find out where people are coming from is simply to ask them in the form of a survey. Almost all major hosting platforms let you create and insert a survey that can sit in the sidebar of your homepage or even appear as a pop-up window when people first come to your site. Then, once you create the survey, the hard part is actually getting people to fill out the survey. Make sure to keep your survey extremely short; one to three questions. Experiment with asking different questions or using multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. You could also test where and when the survey appears. Do more people fill out the survey when it is presented on the homepage or on the blog? Should you wait until someone has spent a couple minutes on your site or ask them right away?

[bctt tweet “It sounds simple, but JUST ASK where your website visitors are coming from.”]

2. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful, free way to track your website’s traffic. In the “Acquisition” section,  you can analyze traffic by channel, source/medium, or referrals. In this scenario, you want to look at “Referrals.” You can customize this view by date and it will show you how many people came to your site from other places (like other blogs, social media, news sites, etc). To take this one step further, you can go to the “Behavior” section, then click “Site Content > All Pages.” Here, in the search bar, you can add a URL of a specific page to show only that page’s traffic. Then, in the “Secondary Dimension” drop-down, select “Acquisition > Referral Path.” This view will show you referral sources for one page. For example, you could see where people came from who looked at your pricing page.

3. Monitor Bitly Links

Bitly is not just a link shortener for Twitter. It also shows you traffic, referrals, and shares for each Bitly link. You can see how many total clicks a certain link received and when. You can also see which Bitly link generated the most referral traffic and who else shared the link. For example, you can use Bitly to shorten your homepage’s URL and use that shortened link on social media and in blog posts. You could see which platform generated the most traffic and which users (usually on Twitter) also shared that same link.

Next Steps: What to Do When You Understand Your Website Traffic

Once you figure out where your website’s traffic is coming from, it is time to use that information to your advantage. If you are getting a lot of activity from Facebook, think about directing people who visit your site to also follow you on Facebook or run paid ads. Are a lot of your hits coming from Instagram? Consider hosting a giveaway to help spread the word even further. Also, always be sure to monitor your competition throughout this process. Where do you see them being the most active? Try to learn from their techniques, and improve upon them with your own personal spin.

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