Quality Website Traffic vs. Junk Traffic: What’s the Difference?

Traffic development is critical to any website’s long term success. Who doesn’t look at their analytics and get excited to see an overnight spike in visits after posting content they worked on diligently?

It's a great feeling when traffic development efforts pay off.
It’s a great feeling when traffic development efforts pay off.

There are, however, different types of web traffic. If someone offers you 100 dimes or 100 pennies, of course you’re going to take the dimes. It’s the same number of actual coins, but they’re worth ten times more than the pennies. With website traffic, the quality of visitors is important in traffic development and ultimately revenue development, so it’s essential that your website works on attracting quality website traffic rather than just getting higher page hit statistics.

What Is Quality Traffic?

Quality website traffic is made up of visitors who spend time on your site and look at multiple pages. They account for a disproportionate share of your ad revenue, and they are loyal to your site. Depending on your business model, they may be subscribers or premium members. By focusing your efforts on attracting quality traffic and serving your core loyal visitors you encourage long term success for your site. The occasional high you might get from Digg or Reddit is nice, but it’s not ultimately what drives your site’s success.

In 2009, Slate shifted its priorities to focus on just seven percent of its seven million unique visitors: The most loyal and most valuable readers. “That one curious reader is worth 50 times the value of the drive-by reader,” said Slate editor David Plotz. Over half of the typical web publisher’s traffic in 2009 was “fly-by” traffic, visiting just once in a given month. Approximately one quarter of newspaper site visitors account for the vast majority of page views. For web publishers, focusing on unique visitor numbers is short-sighted.

What Is Junk Traffic?

Junk website traffic is traffic that doesn’t help your site, other than by increasing unique visitor numbers. These visitors stop by only once, usually for a quick scan of one page. If you were to ask them a few minutes later which site they just visited, they probably wouldn’t remember. Don’t build your business plan around this traffic.

For most sites, a spike in traffic that comes through StumbleUpon, Digg, or Reddit doesn’t bring in traffic that converts to sales. While you don’t want to discourage traffic from these sources, you don’t want to waste time specifically cultivating it either. Depending on the type of analytics your site uses, “traffic” may also consist of bots, crawlers, content scrapers, and even hackers looking for site vulnerabilities.

Using Google Analytics to Find Sources of Quality Traffic

Analyzing your site’s traffic sources helps you determine where you should allocate your traffic development efforts. When you look at traffic sources with Google analytics, two important numbers are numbers of visits from each source and bounce rates for each source. Suppose you notice a lot of traffic coming in through a social media site like Pinterest. That’s great, but if that traffic has a high bounce rate, increasing your efforts to draw traffic from Pinterest won’t do you much good. The best case, of course, is high numbers from a source coupled with a low bounce rate.

Analytics tell all, but  you have to learn to tease out the most valuable information.
Analytics tell all, but you have to learn to tease out the most valuable information.

You also want to look at average visit duration from your traffic sources. Which sources bring in visitors that stay around? Take a look at your numbers under “% new visits.” While there’s nothing wrong with new visitors, traffic sources with lower “% new visits” values show that you’re getting more return traffic from these sources, and those return visits mean people like what they find on your site. Keep an eye out for traffic numbers from important sources that suddenly drop precipitously. This can indicate technical problems with your site, like broken redirects that need to be fixed.

Content of excellent quality is essential for bringing people to your site, whether they come there through search, social media, or other pathways. But content alone can’t shoulder revenue development. With the next generation in job site technology, RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions for websites as an integral part of website revenue development. It’s a great way to build repeat traffic and draw in new visitors as well.

Photo Credits: photostock / freedigitalphotos.net, jannoon028 / freedigitalphotos.net

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