Visitors from Google aren’t necessarily what you think they are

I’m going to repeat myself today, but the warning below is something which I think many people still don’t understand. Website visitors from Google aren’t necessarily what you think they are. While Google would love you to think it’s sending you hundreds of potential new customers who’ve found you by searching for “blue widgets”, that’s not really the case. Most of those Google visitors will be people who know you and who are just looking to get to your website; they may even include many people in-house who have got into the habit of typing the company name into their browser’s address bar, rather than setting up a bookmark.

It’s amazing how many companies are unhappy with their position in the Google results for searches on their main product lines, and yet don’t question how and why Google is still sending them so many people. When I look at many companies’ Google Analytics, I often see something like this on the “Traffic Sources” report:

1. Google – 5000 visits
2. Google AdWords – 2000 visits
3. Some other search engine – 200 visits
4. Some directory – 100 visits
5. Some magazine – 50 visits
etc.

But take a look at the search terms people used to find you in Google for those 5000 visits, and this is what you see:

1. Company name: 1000 visits
2. Another way of writing the company name: 500 visits
3. Another way of writing the company name: 200 visits
4. Another way of writing the company name: 100 visits
5. Another way of writing the company name: 50 visits
etc

You might have to scroll down to about the 20th entry on the list to find something which is not the company name in one form or another. In fact, if you filter out all the company name searches (there’s a fairly easy “advanced search” to do this in Google Analytics, below), you might find that only a tiny proportion of your search engine visits came in through searches on generic product types.

If you’re running a Google AdWords campaign, that will put the campaign in a whole new light, of course. Subtract the company-name-related visits from the list at the top and you might see something like this instead:

1. Google (not company name related) – 1500 visits
2. Google AdWords (not company name related) – 1500 visits
3. Some other search engine – 200 visits
4. Some directory – 100 visits
5. Some magazine – 50 visits
etc.

Food for thought.

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