How to Know if Your Website’s Traffic Quality Is Poor & How to Fix It
Website traffic is a vanity metric.
There are countless ways to drive more clicks to your domain. However, it matters very little if those users aren’t interested in converting. In these cases, all you’re doing is wasting your budget.
Traffic quality is a superior metric regardless of traffic volume. By extracting optimal engagement from each person, you maximize your returns.
We’re going to show you the telltale signs of poor traffic. Then, we’ll teach you how to improve website traffic quality with several easy-to-implement changes.
Signs of Poor Website Traffic Quality
1. Your Domain Has a High Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate refers to the number of times users visit your site and leave without taking any action.
Your team of SEOs and content writers is doing the job of getting your pages to appear on SERPs. However, something about the on-page content is either actively driving users away or failing to grab their attention.
To analyze your bounce rate, track your website stats through Google Analytics. The guidelines for a high bounce rate vary depending on your marketing goals and your industry. Check out this detailed list of bounce rate industry benchmarks by device and industry courtesy of Content Square.
The other factor to consider is the overall goal for your site. For your brand’s main website, a higher-than-average bounce rate is not ideal. Your website should keep users active and encourage them to click on other pages. If they’re leaving soon after they arrive, it’s likely a sign that your site is finding users that do not have an interest.
On the other hand, a higher bounce rate for a direct sales funnel is normal. Going straight for the sale is a difficult task, meaning that you should expect more users to bounce than to convert.
Be mindful of your company’s goals when analyzing your bounce rate. If the numbers do not agree with your aspirations, then your traffic is likely low-quality.
2. Your Site Has Low Conversion Rates
In marketing, we define a conversion as an event in which a user completes a desired goal.
While a sale is your ultimate goal, your site can have any number of additional conversions to chart the buyer’s journey.
What your conversion goals are will once again depend upon the goals for your website. If you’re looking to increase your average session duration, you might set goals for the user to click an internal link to another page.
Other examples of conversion goals can be:
- Filling out a form
- Watching a video
- Signing up for an email list
- Creating an account
If your users are not converting, then it may be a sign that your traffic is of low quality. However, it may also be a sign that your webpage design or content is failing to earn that conversion.
With many of these factors, no one metric will tell the whole story. You must look at underperforming figures in the context of the user’s journey. That’s why these other factors will play a role in determining if your traffic is not ideal.
3. Your Site Has a Low Session Duration
The average session duration is approximately how long a typical user spends on your domain.
You can quickly determine roughly how long it would take the average user to complete any number of goals. One page of content may take two minutes to read while clicking to read another page can extend that visit to be much longer.
However, a sharp decline in session duration is almost assuredly a sign that the user is not interested. Once again, the users that are discovering your site are not interested in your offerings.
If your average session duration is a little closer to the industry average, then the story may be different. Once again, it may be that your content fails to drive engagement. Without a reason to interact and convert, your sessions are going to consistently fall below expectations.
Try to look out for low session duration particularly if you’re also seeing higher than normal bounce rates.
4. Visitors Find Your Site with the Wrong Keywords
This is one of the most likely culprits of low-quality traffic. Not only will the wrong keywords bring in the wrong users, but it also leads to the other negative metrics listed previously.
Ranking for the wrong keywords may happen by accident. However, you may also be doing so intentionally without realizing it. Many site owners make the mistake of choosing keywords purely by search volume without considering the keyword intent.
Know that there are four primary types of keywords:
- Informational – the user is looking for unbiased information on a subject
- Commercial – the user is looking for more specific data about certain brands or products
- Transactional – the user is looking to purchase a product relatively soon
- Navigational – the user is looking to find a specific URL
Understanding the keyword types and their purpose should be the driving force behind your content.
If you choose to rank for an informational keyword, but your content is tailored toward transactions, you’re going to get clicks from low-quality traffic. In this example, the user wanted to be educated, but you served them a hard sales pitch.
Not only does this create a bad user experience, but it may also actually cause users to avoid your brand going forward. Unwanted approaches come across as unpersonable, spammy, and a nuisance. Getting the correct type of content to the correct users is how your website analytics improve overall.
On the other hand, make sure that your content is not accidentally ranking for keywords. When using GA, you can see which page the user visited and which keywords they used to find it. If you spot any red flags, then it’s time to examine that content and determine how this particular event happened.
How to Improve Website Traffic Quality?
1. Monitor Your Website Analytics Every Week and/or Month
With tools like Google Analytics, it’s much easier to spot issues with website traffic quality.
As long as we know the particular URLs at the source of the problem, we will have an easier time analyzing the direct factors. While minor highs and lows are to be expected, negative trends are something to keep an eye on.
By checking in on your website traffic regularly, it’s much easier to identify issues before they become a real problem. This is particularly important if you’re using paid campaigns to drive website traffic. Every user that visits costs money regardless of the traffic quality.
In addition to the metrics above, Google Analytics offers a breakdown of all website traffic. It will divvy up the results by real traffic, spam, and bots. You can find this by utilizing the Overview dropdown and clicking on Quality.
Anything in green is indicative of “real traffic.” You want to make sure that most, if not all, of your traffic fall within this category. Then, you can begin to analyze page-by-page to determine how that traffic is arriving at your domain.
2. Set Up Custom Goals for Your Site
Custom goals are an incredible feature that every website owner should utilize.
Creating your own goals allows you to gain greater insight from your traffic regarding your unique business objectives. It allows you to determine exactly where you’re losing the user and what you might be able to do to improve your retention rate.
If a user fails to complete the initial action, it’s much more likely that the traffic is unqualified. Meanwhile, if a user abandons your site halfway through the journey, it’s more indicative of the content or offer quality.
To set up a goal in Google Analytics:
- Go to your Admin page.
- Click on the View column. Then, click Goals.
- Click +New Goal to set up the custom configurations for that objective.
You should utilize these new goal metrics in conjunction with all other measurements. Doing so paints a more concise picture and allows you to make a more educated guess when it comes to your traffic and targeting.
Generate a hypothesis, develop a new strategy, then test again. You must continue to do this until you begin to see your metrics trending once again in a healthy direction.
3. Improve Your Content Quality
It’s possible to attribute low-quality traffic to poor content quality.
This can start as early as the keyword selection process as explained above. If you are selecting the ideal keywords for ranking, your content may fail to meet Google’s EAT principles.
Setting up custom goals for conversions (see above) is an excellent way to start gauging content quality. Whether you want users to visit new pages or sign up for an offer, your content is what will do the heavy lifting. Failure to meet these objectives is a red flag that your copy, images, or video need a closer look.
To start improving your content quality:
- Choose the right keyword for your audience. Remember keyword intention when choosing your page topics.
- Refocus existing content to not incidentally rank for the wrong keywords.
- Motivate the audience by providing a call to action. Help them get involved.
- Support your text with high-quality images and video. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
- Offer social proof. Leverage the momentum of your content by including references, testimonials, or research depending on the subject matter.
- Find natural ways to link to internal content. Make it easy for your users to spend more time on your site.
4. Improve Your Paid Ad Targeting
For many brands, paid advertising campaigns are a huge source of new website traffic.
Traffic coming from an ad or sales funnel should almost always be of high quality. If they’re already showing interest in your ad, then they should be a qualified user for your website content.
Paid ad platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google make it easy to learn about your audience. These tools automatically gather data from every impression and click. It knows who is seeing your ads, who’s interested, and who you should avoid.
PPC marketers then utilize this data to continuously refine their campaign efforts. The more we learn about the user, the better we can create content that drives conversions. Conversely, misinterpreting the data and presenting ads to unqualified users leads to a wasted budget.
Always be sure to revisit your audience data periodically. Remember that discovery campaigns must be allowed a significant period (at least 2 weeks) to gather sufficient data. Then, utilize this data in both your ad campaigns and your website to attract the right type of traffic.
5. Generate High-Quality Traffic with Remarketing
An effective ad campaign type is known as remarketing. This allows you to re-engage with users that have already shown interest in your brand.
It’s far easier to leverage data that you have regarding a previously engaged user than a brand-new one. This is because we have access to analytics that show what that person likes, where we lost them, and what we might do to win them over next time.
This is particularly valuable when it comes to customers that made a purchase. Rather than thinking of each sale as a one-and-done, keep that momentum going and leverage their earned trust to your benefit.
The internet changed the buyer’s journey forever. No longer do we need to make a purchasing decision on the spot. Instead, we might engage with a funnel, leave, then come back later.
That user may be on the fence regarding a purchase. Then, a Facebook ad appears on their timeline once again reminding them of your brain. You catch them at a different time in a different mood, and suddenly they’re more open to converting.
Remarketing almost always leads to high-quality traffic. Rethink your strategy to consider new ways to capitalize on previous website visitors or customers, such as:
- Paid ad remarketing campaigns
- Email marketing lists
- Abandoned cart emails
6. Rethink Your Existing Marketing Channels
Finally, it may be time to reconsider whether a specific marketing channel is worth the effort.
Marketing is a continuous trial-and-error process. The more we learn about our audience, the better we are equipped to make smart choices that lead to better returns.
If you’ve been utilizing a channel, exhausted different types of creatives, and still see low-quality traffic, consider dropping it from your strategy. It can simply be a case of the wrong place or the wrong time. It may also be that it’s worth pursuing better-qualified users elsewhere.
We can’t stress enough that analytics is your savior when it comes to determining traffic quality. Don’t just analyze your site through GA, but constantly observe your metrics across:
- Paid ads
- Social media
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
Some channels may better suit your particular brand or industry than others. It’s up to you to determine if there’s something you can improve or if that platform’s audience just isn’t up to standards.
Prioritize Website Traffic Quality Over Volume
Low-quality traffic often comes as a result of pursuing volume over quality. When we fail to properly analyze our website and our marketing channels, we end up with traffic numbers that mean very little.
Instead, we must carefully monitor website analytics for signs of poor website traffic quality. Be mindful of:
- Bounce rate
- Average session duration
- Low conversion rates
- Keywords & channels used to find the site
Any one of these can be indicative of problems on the site, within our ad campaigns, or within our SEO strategy. The sooner you identify the problem and its source, the sooner you can weed out your low-quality traffic.