What is Web Traffic? - Definition & Monitoring

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Want to know how many people are visiting your website? Take a closer look at web traffic. In this lesson, we'll define what that means, and consider some metrics you should be monitoring.

Sitting in Traffic

2017 promises to surpass an internet milestone. This is the year that statisticians say there will be more internet traffic during a 12-month period than in all the previous years the internet has been in existence - combined. In short, that means there are a lot of people perusing the internet for everything, from news to shopping to recipes and more.

Web traffic comes from people who visit your website.
web traffic, monitoring, website, visitors

This surge in web traffic can be attributed to the vast amounts of information and opportunities at our fingertips today. But, what exactly does web traffic constitute? And, how can you figure out what piece of the traffic pie your site is getting?

What is Web Traffic?

Just like traffic on a highway refers to the number of cars traveling down the road, web traffic is the number of web users who travel to any given website. Each person who logs on to a website is recorded as a visit or session, with a starting and ending point, thanks to behind-the-scenes communications between a user's device and the website itself.

Web traffic is specific to each page of your website as well, so whether you have a one-page site or a 50-page site, each of those page's traffic is configured independently of all other pages.

For example, Alice decides to log on to her hair salon's website in an attempt to schedule an upcoming appointment. Not only is Alice considered part of the web traffic on the homepage, but also on the scheduling page that she accesses after clicking on the appropriate page link. For the website owner, Alice's actions - along with all the other web traffic - can be compiled into a report to show how much web traffic the site is receiving. This makes it easy to see how many people are (or aren't) visiting so you know how popular your website is.

How Do I Monitor Web Traffic?

Monitoring web traffic isn't as complicated as it might sound initially. In fact, it can be pretty simple - and free! You might be asking, ''Why do I need to monitor my web traffic? I'm making sales (or getting sign-ups, etc.).'' Here's why:

  • You can monitor how effective your site is.
  • You can figure out how long visitors are sticking around.
  • You can see which pages are triggering visitors' interest.
  • You can monitor the impact of your marketing efforts.
  • You can determine where web traffic is coming from (such as social media sites).
  • You can increase the efficiency of your site overall.

Monitoring Web Traffic

Now that you know WHY you should monitor web traffic, it's time to tackle the HOW.

One of the simplest ways is sponsored by a website you may visit daily yourself. Google Analytics offers many free tools for monitoring web traffic. There are, of course, paid monitoring tools as well, such as AWStats, eLogic and SiteMeter. Whichever tool you prefer, here are specific categories you'll want to take a look at:

1. Number of visits: This metric looks at your total overall web traffic. Each visit to your site is tracked, including visitors who come back multiple times.

2. Number of visitors: The number of visitors to your webpage will give you information on unique visits to your site, so if Alice visits every day, she'll still only be logged once.

3. Bounce rate: Bounce rate will tell you how much of your web traffic is leaving your site right after arriving. You want your web traffic to hang around, check out your site and hopefully convert (such as making a purchase). If users are leaving quickly, they're either not finding what they're looking for or your website needs some modifications.

4. Length of visit: If you want to know how long your web traffic is hanging around on your site, the length of visit or session time will tell you just that.

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