The following chapter is about the Traffic Audit Checklist which is part of the full Website Audit Checklist definitive guide.
Traffic audit is all about trawling through Google Analytics and Google Search Console to identify any nuggets that will help you understand the results you’re getting or…
Google Analytics is a listening device that tells you what your audience wants.
Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
When we’re running any traffic-related tests we need to test both on mobile and desktop.
Your conversion rate is 5%.
But…on mobile it’s only 2% so this is dragging down your overall conversion rates.
Have tracking codes been implemented correctly?
You need to look at any tracking codes that were added to the website to make sure they have been implemented correctly.
This could be through Google Tag Manager or scripts added directly to the website.
For example, we have seen duplicate Google Analytics tracking codes added to websites before which means invalid data is displayed in reports.
Google Tag Manager is an extremely valuable tool that allows you to manage all scripts required on your website but also gives you much greater flexibility in what you can track. If you’re not using Google Tag Manager you should be!
Are there any issues to investigate in Google Search Console?
When Google crawls through your website it leaves a report in Google Search Console.
Did you score an A on this report?
If not you need to correct it.
You might find:
..Issues with your Schema
..Pages not indexed
And many more.
Are relevant exclusions set up?
You need to review the exclusions list to see if everything is set up correctly.
For example, it’s good to exclude traffic from your IP address on the website. You don’t want your stats distorted because of the traffic you generate.
Imagine also that someone wants to buy a product and is sent to a 3rd party site (Paypal) and then back to your website. If you don’t set up a referral exclusion for the 3rd party site then the users session would be counted as 2 instead of 1.
Is the traffic going up or down?
Traffic going down may or may not be a bad thing!
For example, if we see a drop in traffic it could be over a short period and due to the seasonal nature of the business.
If traffic is going up it could be a change which won’t last long.
So we need to look at traffic over a longer period.
If traffic is consistently going down over a long period of time that will affect how quickly we’ll recommend you implement changes.
Where is the traffic coming from?
You want to identify the sources of traffic and what happens with this traffic.
Are visitors landing on your website organically (from Google search) or are they finding your page via links in email, google ads, links on third party websites or social media posts?
For example, if you get a lot of traffic from Google organic search results that might be great but what happens if the conversion of that traffic is really poor?
In addition to traffic by channel you also need look at traffic from other sources such as region or device (e.g. desktop, mobile).
Traffic by itself is a vanity metric so you need to follow the scent to see what is working and not working.
How long do visitors stay on website/pages?
Another important metric that you want to track is average time on site. You want to see at least 3 minutes on the website to give people enough time to consume content and make decisions about doing business with you.
You also need to check how long visitors stick around on specific pages, giving you a good idea of the pages users find engaging.
Looking at related metrics, such as traffic source, is also important for getting a better understanding of the page performance.
For example, if you’re referring traffic to a landing page from both your email campaign and your social media posts, it will be interesting to see whether one of the sources can be tied to increased time on page.
This type of traffic analysis helps you optimize your marketing efforts.
What pages are getting high impressions but low Clicks?
Every time a search result appears on a user’s screen that is counted as an impression.
If you have a page on your site that is getting a lot of impressions organically, you’d expect to see a lot of visits to that page, too.
However, sometimes you’ll notice that people are seeing your page in SERPs but aren’t clicking on it.
Find pages are getting high impressions in Google Search Console but low CTRs. These are great candidates to test better title tags.
Eric Siu, SingleGrain
The click through rate (CTR) is the number of impressions divided by clicks and you want to track this.
Low CTR usually means that your title or meta description aren’t engaging enough for people to want to learn more and you may want to try out different titles and descriptions to see what works best.
What is the bounce rate like?
When a user visits one page on your website and leaves we call this a bounce.
That’s typically not great for your business.
I say typically because sometimes someone comes to your website, finds your phone number and rings you. That’s an ok bounce!
Your bounce rate shows you the percentage of your visitors who bounce off of your site.
Here’s a research done on average bounce rates for websites for B2B, B2C and hybrid (provide B2B and B2C services). Note: homepage bounce rate should be lower:
You want to figure out:
- What’s the bounce rate on the home page?
- What’s the bounce rate on the blog page?
- What’s the bounce rate on product/service pages?
You should expect your homepage to have the lowest bounce rate and blog posts to have the highest bounce rate.
That’s because visitors usually click on a blog post to learn about specific information and then exit the site.
Where do people exit the website from?
An exit is the moment a visitor leaves your website. It differs from a bounce because they may have visited several pages before leaving.
Analysing your exit pages can help you understand where people lose interest in your website.
But…you need to be careful about the user’s context because sometimes an exit is an expected action.
For example, if by looking at your Google Analytics reports you see that your ‘contact us’ page has a high exit rate, that’s fine. You’d expect people to leave after they contact you!
The same stands for ‘thank you’ pages. These will naturally have a high exit rate.
Here’s an example of how a user journey looks like in this case:
Homepage → content download page → thank you page
However, if your checkout pages have a high exit rate you should do some digging to find out why people are leaving without buying.
Where are conversions coming from?
Tracking how your traffic converts is important but it’s also important to know where those conversions are coming from.
Knowing where conversions came from helps you optimize your marketing spend accordingly.
Look at your Google Analytics reports to get a high-level overview of conversion activity by channel over a predetermined period of time.
How is mobile traffic performing?
It’s important to analyse traffic coming from mobile devices to answer questions like:
- How much traffic is your website getting from mobile vs. desktop? And is this in line with your expectations?
- Are mobile visitors taking the actions you want them to take?
- Is mobile traffic converting at a higher or lower rate than desktop traffic?
You also need to look at things like average sessions/time-on-page to get an idea of how users interact with your website on mobile devices and if they’re having trouble finding what they’re looking for.
How are the goals performing?
Setting up goals in Google Analytics helps you focus on the results you want to achieve with your website.
For example, if you have a content offer on your website and you send visitors to a thank you page after they download the offer, this is something that you could easily track as a goal in Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see how many people converted and where they came from.
As part of the traffic audit, you need to make sure that the goals are set up correctly and then analyse the results.
Depending on your business, you will set specific goal categories e.g. revenue goal, acquisition goal, or engagement goal and then assign a goal type e.g. destination, duration, event, etc.
If your goals are properly set up, check the reports related to goal tracking to find out:
- The number of completed goals, the value of set goals, and the goal conversion rate.
- Where a visitor came from before they completed the goal.
There are also funnel goals which you can set up to track visitors going from page to page.
For example, if someone was buying a product they could go from a landing page to checkout page to a thank you page. You want to track this.
Here’s what a funnel visualisation chart looks like in Google Analytics:
How is event tracking performing?
An event could be a website visitor watching a video or clicking on a button to download a guide.
If there’s event tracking set up, you want to see what is happening with each of the events.
What are the historical trends like?
By looking at what has happened with your website traffic over the last couple of years, you can spot any spikes and dips and dig deeper to find out things like:
- When did spikes happen?
- What caused a traffic spike?
- Where did the majority of that traffic came from?
- Which page(s) was visited the most?
Answering these questions can help you spot trends and predict/prevent traffic issues in the future.
What is user behaviour like on the site?
Google Analytics has a behaviour report which shows how people are navigating through your website.
This report shows you the paths users took from one screen, page or event to the next and its useful for discovering what content keeps users engaged. It also helps you identify potential content issues.
Use the Behaviour Flow report to answer questions like:
Are there paths through your website that visitors take more than others? And are those the paths you want them to take?
Did users go straight from product pages to checkout or did they explore more of your offers?
Is the website working on all devices and browsers?
Looking at clients’ GA reports, I’ve often seen particular web browsers with a 100% bounce rate. That’s a clear indicator that this browser doesn’t work.
So if you see that one browser has a much higher bounce rate than other browsers that’s something worth investigating.
You also need to check the bounce rate for devices:
What if your eCommerce shop does not work well on certain browsers or devices? That’s a good way of losing money!
Do landing pages match ads?
If you are running ads directly to landing pages you need to be concerned about ‘ad scent’.
This just means that when someone clicks on an ad and arrive on a page it should be very clear that this page is there to provide the solution related to the displayed ad.
What are people searching for on the website?
If there’s a search on the website it can be connected with Google Analytics so any searches performed are recorded.
This is very useful to see what people are regularly searching for.
It could be for products you don’t sell…
It could be for information you don’t provide…
This is only possible if site search is set up.
What are the percentage of return visitors and what were their actions?
This is an interesting report to analyze to see what returning visitors do and how often they come back.
Your expectations will differ depending on your business.
If you have a content heavy website (e.g. blog) you’ll want a lot of return visitors. If they are not returning you’d have to ask yourself if your content is good enough.
If you are selling high price items you may not get the sale during the first visit. You want to see what happens with return visits and if they are visiting the pages you want them to visit.
But…what happens if you’re getting lots of return visits but very few sales?
This could point to a problem. Your site may be used as a source of information but not to buy any products.
Is there an advanced eCommerce tracking setup?
With advanced eCommerce analytics you can track what products were displayed for the user, when they added to cart, when they progressed through the funnel to buy, and much more.
You can also do things like automatically tracking the cost of purchased products.
Where are people dropping off in the funnel?
Using the eCommerce tracking you want to find out which products people are putting in their carts and not buying.
They may be exiting before going to the checkout or exiting during the checkout process.
Potential customers fail to buy for a number of reasons and you can get into details by looking at your Funnel Visualization report in Google Analytics.
This report shows you the visitor’s path from adding the product to the cart all the way to checkout.
On their path to purchase, your website visitors will add a product to cart, enter shipping details and contact info, and choose payment method. They’d then confirm their order and start the payment process.
By looking at all of these steps you will be able to find issues that are causing funnel drop-offs.