What is website traffic?

KPI & metric

What does website traffic mean? Why is understanding your website traffic? How do you work out your website traffic?

Website traffic – an introduction

Website traffic refers to the number of visitors to a website in a period. It’s a key indicator of a website's popularity and visibility. It’s important for websites to track their traffic for a variety of reasons, including understanding conversion rates, attracting loyal customers, and targeting qualified traffic. Measuring website traffic can also be useful for comparing the success of different marketing strategies and identifying areas for improvement.

What is website traffic?

Website traffic is normally measured in ‘visits’, sometimes called ‘sessions’. A website's traffic can be divided into repeat visitors and one-time visitors. While it’s interesting to see what repeat traffic you have, it’s important to consider unique visitors i.e. if the same person visits 100 times, this would be one unique visit rather than 100 visits.

Regular visitors are typically loyal customers who provide steady traffic, whereas one-time visitors are looking for information on a specific topic and usually directed to the website via search engine queries. A website's number of visitors is an important indicator of how interesting it is for its target customer and is a common way to measure an online business’ effectiveness at attracting potential customers.

Why is website traffic important?

Website traffic is important for a number of reasons:

Website traffic directly leads to conversions

Your website conversion rate indicates the percentage of users that have taken actions. Conversion rate indicates how well your website is doing well converting visitors into buyers or if visitors are leaving the website without taking any action.

Website traffic determines if you have loyal customers by measuring repeat visitors

A repeat customer is someone who has purchased twice or more from your site. Consumers stick with brands they’re familiar with and have a good overall user experience (UX). Repeat customers drive more value for an e-commerce business and subsequent orders tend to be higher value.

Website traffic can identify qualified traffic vs random traffic

Qualified traffic can be described as visitors who are aware of your brand and whose demographics fit within your target persona. Qualified traffic is more likely to convert where random, unqualified visitors may give you clicks and impressions, but they aren’t going to convert and become actual customers.

How useful is measuring website traffic?

Measuring website traffic is a great starting point to determine your website's popularity and visibility.  However, consider two contrasting e-commerce sites, one with 10,000 monthly visits and the other with 50,000. On the face of it, the latter appears to be performing better. However, in isolation, website traffic alone can be misleading, as illustrated below.

Website A

Effective call to actions, concise product descriptions and high-quality images that convert a high percentage of visitors, on a small volume of website traffic.

10,000 monthly unique visits with 200 sales per month = 2% conversion rate

Website B

Ranks highly in Google search listings, distributes well-received content, and uses paid web marketing to attract high volume of website traffic but has a low conversion rate:

50,000 monthly unique visits with 200 sales per month = 0.4% conversion rate

The above shows why metrics such as website traffic in isolation don’t always tell the whole story. By focusing solely on website traffic, you would fail to see the poor conversion rate.

How is website traffic segmented?

There are a few different terms and ways of segmenting website traffic and it’s useful to understand the differences:

  • Organic traffic: the number of visitors who enter a website after searching via a search engine (Google) and clicking a link on the results page.
  • Direct traffic: represents customers who accessed the website directly by typing the URL.
  • Referral traffic: generated by people who enter your website through a link from a third-party website, such as a forum or blog.
  • Email marketing campaigns: measures how many visitors come to your site from email links.
  • Social networks traffic: refers to traffic created by visitors arriving on your website from posts on social media platforms.
  • Paid media: the traffic generated by pay-per-click ads on social media networks.
  • Paid search: refers to any visitors gained from PPC platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook etc.

How is website traffic measured?

Most website traffic is monitored on Google Analytics. However, if you’re using an e-commerce store such as Shopify or WooCommerce, you will typically get access to a number of metrics in your dashboard. The following are the typical terms you will see.

Number of sessions

This metric looks at your total overall website traffic. Each visit to your site is tracked, including repeat visitors who come back multiple times.

Number of visitors

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

Bounce rate

This will tell you how much of your web traffic is leaving your site right after arriving. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (bounce) rather than continuing to view other pages within your site. Bounce rate is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits.

Session time

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.

How do you increase website traffic?

The purpose of a website is to attract as many visitors as possible. Higher traffic often results in higher conversions and ultimately sales. The user experience, incorporating the content and the design must be high-quality and relevant. There are several specific areas to consider:

Conduct keyword analysis

Make sure your site is well-indexed by search engines by using search engine optimised (SEO) keywords in your site’s tagline, in your website content, and in tags. Keywords are terms that your target audience might use when searching for your site.

Create valuable content

One of the most effective strategies to increase website traffic is to provide relevant and memorable content including blogs, case studies, white papers, and video content.

Update social media accounts

The significance of social media in drawing site visitors is enormous. Here are a few suggestions about how to utilise it to enhance your e-commerce traffic:

  • Distribute information throughout your social media platforms (blogs, e-books, infographics, videos, and so on)
  • Interact with your followers by answering, reposting, and tagging their posts.
  • Use appropriate hashtags.
  • When new content gets released, update your bio’s link to advertise it.

Enhance your e-commerce buyer experience

Website traffic is directly affected by customer-generated content, including reviews and service ratings which impacts site ranking on search engines so make your buyer journey as seamless as possible to encourage great customer ratings and reviews.

Offer detailed product descriptions, flexible returns policies, easy-to-understand size guides, high resolution images with multiple views to encourage return customers and ultimately higher traffic levels.


Website traffic is an important aspect in understanding the success and effectiveness of your website, as it provides insight into the number of visitors and their behaviour on the site.

While website traffic is a useful metric, like many metrics, it should not be viewed in isolation, as it’s only one part of a larger picture. It’s important to consider other metrics, such as conversion rates and repeat customer rates, in order to fully understand the success of a website and its marketing strategies.

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