While the number of Visits has grown significantly the main sources of web traffic have not changed a great deal, between 2008 and 2012, for 12 UK charity sites that I have reviewed. Across all the sites, the largest source of Visits, Organic has dropped from 59% to 52% while Referrals and Direct have remained almost constant. The drop in Organic Traffic is smaller for the 4 large sites that I have classified as `Conditions` ie dealing with common chronic health conditions.
The one Traffic Source that has grown is Paid Search. This is due to two factors. The first was the increasing use over the period of the free-of-charge Google Grant. As you will know ( I hope) this is available to all registered charities and has a maximum value of $10,000 per month. This means a site can increase visitor numbers by up to 10/12k per month – the exact number depends on the actual cost per click (CPC). The second, much smaller, factor is the increasing use of paid-for digital advertising, mostly on Google AdWords and Facebook, by these charities. This advertising is usually for Fundraising and Events promotion but also for promotion of paid for services.
The % of Referral Visits has remained constant. At 20% it is a significant size, as it is for most charity sites, as the practice of linking out to high quality information is very common in the sector. Note that visits from Social Media sources are included in Referrals. Given that Referral Traffic has remained a constant % between 2008 and 2012 we can see that Social Media has not provided any above trend traffic growth. This of course only measures the effect of Social Media efforts on the web site and not the overall impact of Social Media efforts on the charity and its brand.
So, how do your numbers compare ? Easy to find out by logging onto your Google Analytics account, set the time range from 2008 to 2012, got to Traffic Sources, Sources, All Traffic and select Medium as the Primary Dimension. Finally use the `percentage `button to see the % of each.
If your numbers are very different from the ones shown in the graph above I would be keen to hear from you. Note that GA uses the term Medium where I am using the term sources in this post. More info here on charity site visitor data.