Ah, Those Clicks. But Do You Know What You’re Really Getting?
Everybody loves those clicks. It means your pay-per-click (PPC ) and or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are paying off. The more clicks you get, the more prospects you’ll likely have. And with more prospects comes more clients. And with more clients comes more… well, you get the picture.
But is that picture accurate?
We recently finished a monthly report for a client of ours in which the total number of clicks to their site increased by 49.6% versus the previous month. Now, I like to think we’re good at what we do, but something told me we weren’t THAT good.
A closer look at the analytic data explained why.
Google breaks down traffic to your site into 5 categories. The first is Paid Search – those clicks that come from paid online ads. The second category are those visits which come directly from someone typing in your URL address – ergo, these are called Direct clicks. The third type of traffic is Organic which is the result of the coding of your site, keywords, site content, links to and from other sites and all of the other SEO variables. Social traffic stems from those clicks driven by social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
And then there is the fifth category – Referrals. This reflects that traffic that comes to one’s website from other, referring websites. Unfortunately, here is where things start to become a little murky.
We provide our clients with a monthly update as to their site traffic. In this particular case, the client had received only 11 referral clicks in the previous month – a figure which suddenly shot up to 125 clicks in the month being analyzed. That’s an increase of 111 clicks from referring sites alone, or to put it another way, an increase over 1000%.
Fortunately, Google Analytics allows one to see from where those clicks are coming and a quick perusal of such indicated that the vast majority of these referrals came from sites such as uptime-us.net and 127.0.0.1:8888. If you have never heard of these, that’s okay. They are basically crawler and ghost spam sites and they bring nothing to the table in terms of real, live visitors coming to your web site.
Hence, when I deducted the 111 fake clicks, the total increase versus the previous month was 14% -- still a very healthy increase, and more importantly, a realistic one.
The lesson worth noting in this is that if something seems out of kilter – it probably is. If we are lulled into a false sense of comfort as to our site’s performance (in this case, these referral clicks accounted for about 30% of site traffic), we may well wind up overlooking important changes that need to be made in order to generate even more site visits.