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This is Part II of How do Visitors Find You?.


In part 1 of this blog, we touched on the major benchmarks related to referrer traffic for public sector and non-profit sites. In part 2 we will talk about some of the main reasons why it is important to monitor, at least on a monthly basis, how your traffic is developing and potentially changing over time. We will also look at a great report which is easy to create, and is worth its weight in gold!

The importance of monitoring referral traffic & what should be considered

Web sites are like moving targets; always changing and never perfect despite our best efforts. The most important part of any Website, however, is the audience. This is why it is important to monitor web traffic and your referrers.

Keeping an eye on your referrers will help you:

  • understand where the main sources of traffic are and if and when they are changing;
  • determine whether campaigns (both offline and online) are effective in delivering traffic; in the case of the online campaigns, it’s can also be a good measure to validate that you are paying for proper amounts of traffic (i.e. click fraud); and
  • ensure that major changes to the site and content have not impacted the traffic negatively (we’ve seen updates include technical files such as ‘robots.txt’ files configured to disallowed search engines from crawling the site – and this had a huge negative impact traffic numbers within days).

It is also important to consider the ‘quality’ of the visits rather than the ‘quantity’. As in part 1 of this blog, considering 5 major groups of referrers is far more interesting and revealing than simply looking at the top 20 or 25 referrers. Likewise, it can also be very telling to look at a few core engagement metrics related to each of these groups, rather than simply looking at the total visits.

For example, consider the following two reports and decide which one would be more useful to yourself, your colleagues, and your organization for making appropriate marketing decisions:

Report A: A list of the top 25 referrers and their corresponding visits. Clearly, a large portion of the traffic comes from this list and it will include Google, None, and perhaps a few other interesting sites.
Report B: A list of 6 groups (as identified in part 1 of this blog) with their total visits, total views, the average number of pages viewed per visit, the average visit duration in minutes, and the bounce rate (the percentage of single page visits).

With Report B, a manager would be able to get a much better understanding of how natural search engine results are working relative to Social Media for example. If your organization has committed resources to Social Media initiatives such as Facebook and Twitter, but visits to your site from these efforts are staying 1/4 as long, looking at 3 less pages per visit, and have a high bounce rate than those coming from partner sites, then you would be well advised to consider a COURSE CORRECTION. This example illustrates that the content, landing pages, target audiences, etc. should be reviewed to ensure the messaging is reflective of the audiences using the Social Media channels you’ve chosen to work within. As usual, the evidence you collect about how your visitors are using the online channel should always form the basis of your decisions!


Plan to monitor your referrer traffic on a monthly basis, because this is the “life blood” of your Website. Ongoing monitor will help managers and marketers get a better sense of what is working and what may not be working as well – and it is never too late to make a mid course correction if you find you are heading in the wrong direction.

PublicInsite Benchmarking

We update our data regularly and will be producing a more granular report exclusively for our clients who choose to be involved in this benchmarking program. Participation ensures confidentiality of the data specific to each client, however, provides mutual benefit across all those who participate. If you would like to be part of our benchmarking program and have your site’s data included, please contact Tyler Gibbs at 613-232-8500 x 102 for more information.

PublicInsite Web Analytics Inc.

Contact us to learn more about what PublicInsite can do for you.


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