Should I Use Qualitative or Quantitative Traffic to Measure Website Traffic?

When marketers measure website traffic they are interested in visitor data not just the number of visitors, learn more about qualitative traffic here.

Measure Website Traffic

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

See Why Marketers Value Qualitative Traffic Over Quantitative Traffic in This Post


The problem with data is that it’s worth very little without sufficient context. This is especially true when Measuring website traffic. Although most website owners are thoughtful enough to measure their traffic, this is generally a quantitative number that fails to offer the complete picture when it comes to website performance. This can be a misleading metric for sites that rely on conversions like a product purchase or a signup to sustain themselves. 


There are a million ways to bolster your website traffic in a quantitative manner. But if you’re attracting 1,000,000 visitors a month and only making a handful of conversions, you’ll be unable to reap the benefits in your bottom line. 


With this in mind, qualitative traffic emerges as an essential consideration that demands respect. With qualitative traffic, websites can attract visitors with greater levels of purchase intent and more willingness to spend their time navigating your pages.


From both a financial and SEO perspective, prioritizing qualitative traffic is far more sustainable and beneficial to businesses than simply seeking to draw in masses of visitors at all costs. 


Let’s take a deeper look at why marketers can benefit greatly from caring for qualitative traffic, but let’s first look at how the quality of your traffic can be measured:

How Can You Measure Website Traffic Quality? 


Although we’re accustomed to watching traffic figures to gain an impression of our website’s performance or improvement over time, it’s essential that site owners adopt more metrics to learn about the quality of the traffic that they’re welcoming on their website over time. 


Fortunately, it’s not difficult to gain an impression of traffic quality online, and analytical platforms like Google Analytics can help to deliver a range of metrics that can help you to see how your pages are doing in a more substantial way. 


Three of the most effective ways to analyze and measure website traffic quality are all available via Google Analytics and are relatively easy to follow. They are: 


Engagement Rate: These metrics can show information like time spent on site, pages explored per session, and exit rate. 


Conversion Rate: This refers to conversions made on the site, from purchases to sign ups and everything in between. Form submissions and other goal completions can be considered here. 


Relevance Metrics: These include bounce rates, user geo-locations, and differentiations between new and returning visitors. 


By implementing these measures, website owners can look beyond website arrivals and more toward the behavior of users on-site. This can point towards more qualitative insights like whether a user is interested in purchasing a product or signing up for a mailing list. 

(Image: Data Driven U)


As we can see from the example above, Google Analytics can even deliver relevant information about qualitative traffic through easy-to-follow visualizations.


Whilst there’s little doubt that high-quality traffic is pivotal for the success of a website, particularly an eCommerce business or digital startup, there are many reasons why qualitative traffic should be prioritized over quantitative traffic. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at why quality always beats quantity:

5 Reasons Why Marketers Must Respect Qualitative Traffic Over Quantitative Traffic

1. Looking Beyond the Bots


Not all visitors to your website are guaranteed to be human. In fact, more than 40% of the website visits that occur online today are from robots–all of which have either good or malicious intentions. 

(Image: Imperva)


As we can see from the data above, 14.6% and 27.7% of online traffic in 2021 was composed of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bots respectively. 


What do these bots want? Many of them can be search engine or commercial crawlers designed to understand more about your website, others can be monitoring bots or feed fetchers–all built for good causes. However, much more robot traffic can involve impersonating human users for fraudulent purposes, scraping content to reuse elsewhere, attempted website hacking, or spamming websites. 


Although it’s difficult, and even damaging in some cases, to banish robot traffic to your website entirely, they can be fairly easy to identify and are usually characterized by sudden unexpected sharp uptakes in traffic to your site, and generally bounce back from your pages instantly. This means that session duration can be a great tool in understanding the levels of ‘human’ traffic you’re welcoming to your pages. 

2. Filling in the Trust Gap


Relevance is essential when it comes to earning qualitative traffic to your website. There are many interpretations of good SEO, but they generally don’t consider keyword stuffing and the pursuit of irrelevant traffic as one of them. 


Quantitative traffic can lead to users navigating to your website under false pretenses and quickly realizing that they’re on a page that doesn’t interest them and bounce back. 


Quantitative SEO can be good for gaining short-term high-volume traffic but not for establishing trust. If you want to learn how to make a website that generates quality traffic, you should seek out new avenues for winning leads via social media marketing. This can be achieved through building relevant and insightful content that can help visitors to know exactly what they’re getting when they navigate to your pages. 


Furthermore, evidence suggests that social media marketing has a strong ROI for companies, meaning that your efforts can stretch further than through more traditional marketing channels. 

3. Protection from Reputation-Reducing Bouncebacks


We’ve discussed bouncebacks a number of times throughout this article without yet covering why they’re such a nuisance for marketers. 


According to Backlinko, Google’s SERPs are sensitive to what the search engine perceives to be a satisfactory user experience for traffic arriving on a website. Crawlers that identify a site with relatively high bounce rates can be interpreted as more spammy and less relevant to results pages and, subsequently, their SERP suffers. 


(Image: Backlinko)


As the chart above shows, there’s a clear correlation between search engine ranking positions and time spent on site–which indicates that businesses should seek to welcome traffic that’s more prepared to spend time scrolling through pages and engaging with their website’s elements. 


The problem with qualitative traffic is that it can bring higher bounce rates because your approach to gaining more visitors will be unfocused and lacking relevance for many users. To remedy this, look at creating more on-site content and adding more information about your products and services. This can not only encourage visitors to stay browsing your pages for longer, but it can also add more relevancy to the types of search engine results that you appear in. 

4. Avoiding Incurring Google Penalties in the Pursuit of Traffic


The pursuit of quantitative traffic can not only be ineffective for your conversion rates, but it could actually carry a negative impact on your SEO performance. 


For instance, one way that many websites used to enlist to achieve more traffic was by appearing on online directories. In the past, this had been deemed as an effective way of gaining links to your website and improving its SERPs as a result. 


However, Google’s webmaster guidelines see this approach differently. Google has explicitly noted that if you utilize link-building through low-quality directories, you may receive a penalty–meaning that it could be detrimental to continue pushing for higher volumes of traffic without an emphasis on quality. 

5. Fine-Tuning Your Leads


Whilst quantitative traffic can help to bring you high volumes of traffic, it may not amount to many conversions if you’re a US business that only delivers on a national scale and all of your visitors are Australian, for instance. 


There are many methods of attempting to boost your traffic in a time-efficient manner such as listing yourself on directories, keyword stuffing articles, and spamming social media or blog comments sections, but it’s very rare to get the conversion rates that you need through anything other than high quality SEO and content creation. 


Although you have to work harder, and your visitor numbers may appear lower at first, think of quality content as a method of fine-tuning your leads. The visitors that you attract will possess greater levels of purchase intent and will have gained more trust in your brand thanks to your output. 


When you measure website traffic, not all forms of traffic are created equally, and cutting corners online rarely helps businesses to reach the finish line quicker. With this in mind, it truly pays for marketers to build a sustainable online presence with high quality content, meaningful campaigns, and a level of honesty that builds trust in their prospective customers. This can pave the way for a qualitative traffic stream that empowers you to ignore the background noise and focus on generating revenue.