Understanding where your website traffic comes from

In this day and age there are literally hundreds of places that you can list your web site.  It is really important to learn where your traffic comes from so you can see what things are worth your time and money.  There are a number of paid directories, some are worth listing and and some aren’t.  In addition, you can spend a lot of money quickly using Google ads (which we will talk more about in the next post).

Paid for listings on Google vs. organic listings
Let’s cover the basics first.  Any time you do a search on Google you get things at the top that are in a yellow box – these are “pay-per-click” spots that companies bid on based on the key words that you searched for.  The column on the right is also pay-per-click listings.  About half way down the page you see the listings in white.  These are listings that rank by their “organic” value only, meaning they didn’t have to pay to be listed because Google
recognizes these results are highly relevant.

Understanding how people find you on the internet
People search the web using what is called “key word phrases”.  What key words will people use to find your B&B?  This is pretty easy because most people will search using a location like your city or town plus the phrase bed and breakfast.  Why is this important?  You need to rank well for this phrase in the search engines.

Let’s take an example, do a search on Google for this phrase – “Dallas Bed and Breakfast.” These results change constantly, but as of November 2012 when I enter this phrase the first organic results that come up in the top three organic results are:

1.) www.bedandbreakfast.com
2.) www.bedandbreakfast.com/texas-dallas-corinthian-b-b.html
3.) www.baileysuptowninn.com (this is a local Google listing which also appears in a map)

Why only look at the top three?  The top three spots get 68% of the total clicks according to a Nielson study.  My site made the top three, but barely.  This tells me that bedandbreakfast.com is important according to Google and therefore to me.  I’ll talk later about how to optimize your listing in bedandbreakfast.com, which is how the Corinthian is appearing in second place as a bedandbreakfast.com listing.

Using Google Analytics
It is important to KNOW where your traffic comes from based on more than just doing a
search yourself.  Google has a great tool for seeing where your traffic comes from called Google Analytics.

This tool tells you exactly where your traffic comes from.  For example here
are my traffic sources in order of importance:

Google/organic – 41%
Direct – 21%
bedandbreakfast.com – 11%
Yahoo/organic – 4%
Tripadvisor – 3%
maps.google.com – 2.5%
bbonline – 1%

Direct means that 21% of my traffic is coming from people who have heard of my B&B and go directly to my web site or from people using a mobile device to find me.  These results may differ for your bed and breakfast but it is important to know because it can help you learn what things you need to work on and where it is worth spending money to get listed.

Bottom Line:  If you are in the top three organic search results it is not worth spending money on Google Ads.  If you aren’t check out my next post about how to use Google Ads wisely. People are far less likely to find your B&B if you aren’t at least on the first page.

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