“Best practices to approach traffic analytics - Part 1” covered the basic concepts of traffic indicators - Pageviews, Sessions and Unique visitors.
It is rather important to completely understand these three essential traffic indicators to be able to quickly identify potential issues. Look at your pageviews the same way you’re looking at your speed gauge while driving. Imagine you are moving with speed that’s not quite up there, even though you feel like flooring it. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? What does your rev counter say? If it’s too low or too high - check what gear you’re in and fix it. Same thing applies to Visits and Unique users. Try observing some of these patterns:
1) Your pageviews are low, sessions are low and unique users are low too. Think about where you might be losing the audience flow from - Lack of activity on social media pages, decreased article production numbers which lead to lower presence in search and news aggregators, what else could it be?
2) Your pageviews are low, sessions are low, but unique users are fine. Your readers might need an extra nudge to get back and read more. How did your newsletter perform? Is there a chance to send out another one?
3) Your pageviews are low, but sessions and unique users are fine. This means there is something that prevents the readers from staying on your website and visit more articles during their session. Have you changed the article template? Does it contain the same number of related stories? Did you change or completely remove some of sections with recommended articles? All of this may affect the performance negatively.
Both cases introduce you to a concept called “Traffic Source”. Each new visit (or session) to your website is described by the source it’s been initiated from - e.g. clicking on an article link while browsing your social media feed or opening an article through Google News.
Quite often these traffic sources are grouped to reduce clutter in the reports. Here’s a basic breakdown you would see with IO Technologies:
Notice how there are two strange and special groups among the other seemingly normal ones. Those are your internal transfers. It is a common practice to treat your other articles or website pages as traffic sources. Doing so allows you to know the actual source of entry to your article, instead of relying on the traffic source that is attached to the session start.
This is key when it comes to content placement. Low traffic from main page may uncover a technical issue or lack of fresh stories available to your readers. High traffic from other articles may spike your session duration and increase total website engagement, two critical components that affect many things in long-term (e.g. - your Search Ranking is partly determined by the quality of your content and this is based on engagement values).
Now that we know the basic concepts of traffic analysis, we are ready to move on to engagement analytics.