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Traffic Peaked In October For Ecommerce Site: What Does That Mean?

 5:23 pm on Jan 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Everyone:

Question: Am I just thinking too much?

I have two ecommerce sites.

Site A had an 11% increase in Unique Visitors in December compared to October (which was expected)

Site B, the traffic peaked in October, and unique visitors DROPPED 4% in December compared to October.

Granted, Site B saw a 15% INCREASE in visitors in October compared to September.

I am a bit concerned about this: I have a fear that google might be "classifying" my ecommerce site as an educational site and is sending me unqualified traffic (I do have a lot of resource information on the site - and I have a crummy ecommerce conversion rate.)

I have heard that google tends to give a boost to "resource" sites during September and October because school is back in session and google considers a lot of the searches done at that time to be for educational purposes.

What would you look at in google analytics to help understand the problem better? Now with so many search terms being obfuscated by google, it is much harder to tell how much traffic is being sent by certain terms.

Thanks in advance.



 7:46 pm on Jan 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd start by looking at Google entry traffic for Sept, Oct and Nov - and comparing things like bounce rate and pages per visit. Sometimes a look at the geography of your traffic helps.

And even if you've got a relatively high percentage of missing keywords, it's certainly important to look at the keywords that are reported - even in the worst cases I've seen, you are getting around 70% of the keyword data.


 9:30 pm on Jan 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

ahh to have the luxury of time and resources to worry about the "type" of traffic you get from Google.... is this where online marketing is going? Google gives me #*$!ty traffic...?

My opinion is that while I respect that you are investigating it... I can't believe it is worth your time... especially since you have an ecommerce site... If you have adsense sites... I can see you having the time... but, an ecommerce site, isn't there something else in the mix taking up your time!?


 4:29 pm on Jan 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Lenny2:

I appreciate your input, but I have to admit that I am a little puzzled by it. Chalk that up to noobish-ness on my part.

I can't believe it is worth your time...

Fair enough; I am open to suggestions as to what you and others think might be a better use of my time. I would appreciate any and all suggestions.

To me, it is worth my time because although I have increased goolge organic traffic to the site by some 30% over last year, sales are down. I was encouraged by many in the webmaster world ecommerce forum to look at my analytics and try to figure out why the increase in traffic would result in lower sales.

The quality issue of traffic is the only thing I come up with. Might be grasping at straws, but as mentioned above, any other suggestions are greatly appreciated.


 5:50 pm on Jan 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Planet, I have respect for it... I don't think I realized that sales were down. Have you looked at the competition? I know in our niche the conversion rate in 2004 - 2007 was triple what it is today... and not because of the type of traffic... but because the economy fell out... and because of a HUGE influx of competition.

Our conversion rate has been steady since 2010... Best of luck!


 9:12 pm on Jan 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Lenny2:

Have you looked at the competition?

Yeah, we actually compare well in terms of pricing to the competition. However, they have a lot of link spam and are ranking at the top of the SERPs, while we are around spot #8 most of the time.

Lots of adwords advertisers are there too though, so that has something to do with it.


 10:02 pm on Jan 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are you products "Need to Have" or "Nice to Have"? I manage 2 ecom sites myself... One of them is investor grade products, usually purchased with extra, discretionary money... the other, is a consumable / supplies type product, that are used on the same as the first. Think Lamps and light bulbs... When people have a lot of extra money to waste, they buy new lamps... when they are saving cash, they put new bulbs in.

Discretionary site: down 8-10% yoy sales.
Consumables: - up 18-20% yoy.

To us, it looks like more people are sitting on their new-product-cash... and fixing the old products versus buying new ones.

To take what Lenny2 said a bit farther... We have also budgeted a bit more for PPC marketing this year, just for the instant results and testing for answers to our questions. Dropping $100 on an ad campaign for a few well-targeted keyphrases to a landing page, offers much faster answers than waiting 45-90 for firm organic results we can rely on.


 7:23 am on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank You, mhansen:

Are products fit into the nice to have category, not the need to have.

I am working on PPC as well, but success in that area still seems elusive as well.


 8:39 pm on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sometimes the general economy has to be included in calcs as well. October would naturally be the "end" of the discretionary spending coming into the holiday season, though there should be positive spikes in or around black friday and cyber monday. This last holiday season, despite some "media" reports was pretty flat IN GENERAL.


 5:20 pm on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ tangor

Thanks for the input my friend:

October would naturally be the "end" of the discretionary spending coming into the holiday season, though there should be positive spikes in or around black friday and cyber monday.

I haven't looked at sales by date, but in terms of traffic, definitely the first two weeks of October had higher traffic than the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period.

However, traffic peaks for us on December 12th, as do sales, which is DEFINITELY a Christmas shopping day.

In terms of ecommerce conversion rate, October was .19% (yes, I do know that is abysmal), November was .25% (improving, but still horrible), and December was a paltry .39%

Man, with these kinds of conversion rates, I would have to quadurple them just to get them up to the level of "mediocre".

This last holiday season, despite some "media" reports was pretty flat IN GENERAL.

Well, I would definitely say I had been hearing those media reports you mentioned. It seemed strange that there was so many reports that ecommerce was expected to grow by 15%. And then I would look at my 30% in organic traffic and it definitely left me scratching my head...


 9:14 am on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wonder if January is considered another "educational focus" month for google.

I am having my best month ever in terms of traffic this month - better than November or December, despite being an ecommerce site.

January 16th (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in the US) was great, but Sunday the 22nd was best yet. None of the stuff I have would be considered Valentine's Day related, so I don't know why people are coming to my site now.

Just gotta make sure those people start buying stuff.


 10:20 pm on Feb 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, just to follow up:

I checked through my GA and traffic from December 26th through Jan 25th is 11% higher over the "peak" buying period of November 26th through December 25th of 2011.

On my other ecommerce site, it is down 15%, which is about what I would have expected.

I am, of course, happy about the increased traffic. Just wish that it would convert better.

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