The Secret to Understanding Local Web Traffic and Why It Is So Important
Few remodelers pay much attention to their web traffic statistics, and fewer still know how to use that data effectively. Ignoring your web traffic statistics is bad enough, but misinterpreting them could be even worse. One of the more potentially misleading statistics for remodelers is a website’s total traffic.
Looking at the total traffic without considering the local and non-local traffic separately gives a misleading and incomplete picture of a website’s performance, which could lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities.
For most remodelers, local traffic contains potential clients while non-local web traffic almost never includes potential clients. A website visitor from California is not likely to use the services of a remodeler in Maine. Understanding the behavior of these two groups (local visitors and non-local visitors) individually is the best way to look at and understand your web traffic so you can make the right decisions.
Here is one of the methods we use:
Using Google Analytics’ Advanced Segments feature, we set up 3 “segments”. One segment shows only visitors from the Washington DC metro area (the local traffic for this example), the second segment shows only visitors from OUTSIDE that defined metro area (the non-local traffic). The third segment, “All Sessions”, is the combined total of local and non-local visitors. This total traffic segment is what most people look at. It is the default way Google Analytics and most web traffic programs display traffic.
Let’s break down the dashboard view
Column 1 (landing page)
The first three rows show the site traffic to all pages on the site. The next three shows the traffic to only the “home” page as indicated by “/” in that column’s yellow box.
Column 2 (user sessions)
You can see that more of the traffic to this site for the period measured is “local”. More sessions being local may or may not be the case for you. For most remodelers, the behavior and number of local visitors are much more important than non-local.
Column 3 (new users)
This shows the number of individual new visitors and does not include repeat visits (which is why this will be less than total visits or sessions.)
Multiple visits show interest. Notice a greater difference between new visitors and visits for the local traffic than non-local. This is good.
Column 4 (bounce rate)
Bounce rate is important because it shows people that enter the site and leave without looking at any other page. Notice that in this illustration the bounce rate for the local traffic (those who can potentially buy from you) is lower than non-local and the total combined traffic numbers. If you don’t see a lower local bounce rate on your website than non-local, it likely indicates a problem with the website.
Columns 5 and 6 (pages per session and average duration)
These columns represent the average number of pages visited and time spent per visit. Again the local traffic should show more pages and more time than non-local.
Column 7 (goal conversion)
This dashboard shows the conversion of a goal. For this website, that goal is that a visitor submit the Contact Us form. As you can see the local traffic was more likely to go to this page.
As you can see, if you didn’t set up the analytics to look at local and non-local traffic individually, you would think your Contact Us page was converting 15.65% instead of 21.38%.
Here are three ways local/non-local segmentation helps you:
Is your conversion rate OK? If you have 1000 visitors a month to your website and 20 leads, you could logically conclude that the website is not doing a good job of converting visitors to leads. However, if you find that only 200 of the 1000 visitors a month are local, the website’s conversion ratio (20:200 and not 20:1000) looks MUCH better.
Is your marketing generating local or non-local traffic? By looking at the growth of local vs. non-local traffic to your website, you can see if your marketing efforts have been increasing local traffic or just non-local. If just non-local traffic, you likely have a problem. While the above site has a balanced amount of local/non-local traffic, some sites can have a 1:5 local to non-local ratio (or more or less).
Is your site of interest to important visitors? Generally speaking, non-local visitors are looking for general information about a subject while local visitors are looking for specific information about your business and services. So a very high local bounce rate and a very low non-local bounce rate, for example, might be a sign that there isn’t enough pertinent information for prospective clients.