Where Did All My Traffic Go?

In recent months, several clients reported declines in their Web site traffic.  “Where did all my traffic go?” they asked anxiously.  Turns out, the traffic is still there, but it’s dispersed and these clients have to look at usage reports from different sources to learn their true usage patterns and volume.

The number one reason for the seeming decline is splitting up Web traffic over multiple domains.  For example, many clients are moving to Web-based membership databases hosted by their providers.  Which means they now have usage at www.association.org and www2.association.org. Their Web traffic is now on two different servers, in different log files.  So, if a lot of your functionality (e.g., member directory, events calendar, meeting registration, manage profile) moved to another server, your traffic on the main Web site could take a nosedive.  The solution?  Get usage reports from your providers, arrange to download log files and run reports yourself, or add Google analytics or Webtrends on Demand to your header files to get consolidated reports.

The second reason is RSS feeds and e-mail updates.  Don’t get me wrong.    RSS feeds and e-mail updates are powerful push marketing tools.  You need them.  Your overall traffic is likely to increase as a result of these tools, but there is also a chance that your traffic will be redirected.  Here’s why: FeedBurner, the popular RSS feed aggregator, caches your content and serves it from their servers.  So all the visitors who read your content through their RSS readers and e-mail clients, AND who do NOT click through to your site are still valid visitors.  But now their traffic is logged in FeedBurner.  Make a habit of checking your FeedBurner stats along with your Google or Webtrends stats.

The third reason is less happy.  If your site relies on push marketing to drive traffic to your site, there’s a chance that spam filters and firewalls are blocking a larger percentage of your traffic.  Be sure to check delivery reports, ask your readers to whitelist your domain and vigorously follow-up with domains that regularly block your e-mails. I’ll post next time about software you can use to test the likelihood that your messages will be blocked by spam filters.

So, be sure to add your RSS and e-mail usage reports to your overall usage dashboard.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more, I’m holding a seminar on usage reports on July 29.  Get more details and RSVP