Why You Can Stop Worrying About the Outbound Traffic
A few days ago I was looking in Google Analytics for ways to measure our social media success with Google Analytics. Today I was looking for ways to understand our website visitors and stumbled on a very interesting pattern. People who click on links that take them away from your site are the most engaged lot of them all. I haven’t seen this line of reasoning anywhere, so I share it here with you.
You can sometimes see that news portals and other websites go to great lengths to avoid linking to other sites. “Keep them on your site” is the mantra. Maybe it’s not that important. People who click links engage with your content. Not giving them a link to click may make their user experience worse and alienate them in the long run.
Google Analytics lets you track outbound traffic. You need to create events for that. But don’t worry most WordPress Google Analytics plugins let you do this. Any widely used content management system has tools to track outbound traffic.
On our site, we use Google Analyticator by SumoMe. The plugin creates event category “Outbound Traffic” in Google Analytics.
Make sure you enable the relevant settings.
I created a segment that contained only the visitors who click out of our site. What I found is that just 9 percent of our readers click on outbound links.
But these 9 percent are really engaged. These users intentionally clicked on something and took the time to read about what to click on. The numbers are really amazing:
the people who click on outbound links visit twice as many pages as the average visitor. They spend 2.29 times more time on site than average user.
For comparison, I also created a segment that only includes visitors who have not clicked an outbound link.
(Don’t worry about the number of users not adding up to exactly 100%. Number of users adds up to 101.21%. Session total is 100%).
Now the dreaded analyst’s question: so what? Well, people who click on outbound links convert 2.3 times better than average. Of course, visitors don’t convert because they click links. Clicking links is an indicator that the visitor is engaged.
Now you can look at what makes people click and create more content that engages your readers.
- First you have to make sure you are tracking outbound traffic in your analytics.
- Then create the Outbound Traffic segment.
If you use WordPress then here’s the list of Google Analytics plugins. Most of these let you track outbound traffic.
Photo via Visual Hunt
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