Google measures average time on site by first collecting each visitor’s exact time on a particular page. Imagine that a visitor lands on page 1 of your site. Google places a cookie, including a unique code for the visitor and a time stamp. When that visitor clicks through to page 2 of your site, Google again notes the time, and then subtracts the time that the visitor arrived at page 2 from the time that the visitor arrived at page 1. Google then averages each and every page’s time spent to get the average time each visitor spends on the site.
Love the five different area of investigation that you went over, great way to analyze and diagnosis the issue. I would also definitely agree doing a rankings comparison between the two time frames, and not only check what your Google ranking is, but also track the search volume for your keywords to see if it has fluctuated or gone down. Google Trends is a great tool for this as well, as one of your keywords that your ranking for may have just lost popularity online.
Have you conisidered traffic exchanges, or blog exchanges. After submitting your URL and signing up to about 10 exchanges, it takes about an hour clicking through all 10 surf sights at a time. But it does give you some good traffic. I reciently started doing it and I am now getting around 200 visitors a day. That is just from traffic exchanges. not bad from just one type of traffic source
Are you currently excluding all known bots and spiders in Google Analytics? If not, you may be experiencing inflated traffic metrics and not even know it. Typically, bots enter through the home page and cascade down throughout your site navigation, mimicking real user behavior. One telltale sign of bot traffic is a highly trafficked page with a high bounce rate, low conversions and a low average time on page.

Great post, though http://www.blogcatalog.com that sends millions of visits a month to blogs and has an engaged community of bloggers from startup bloggers to pros should be on any list. BlogCatalog is the parent company of http://www.bloggersunite.org a site dedicated to harnessing the power of the blogosphere and another great site for bloggers to connect and get traffic and become more effective bloggers.
The top five leaders in paid traffic (Google Adwords) are the same companies that lead in search, with Amazon again on top. Leading retailers don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket, and they are willing to invest heavily in pay-per-click campaigns. Clearly, PPC has worked for them because we see four out of the top five spenders are the leaders in annual sales numbers.

Consumers only have so much attention and so much money — and for each, they set a “budget” for how much they want to spend with the brands that are important to them. Consumers invest their attention and money into big promotions. Typically, big promos have big results for the retailer, but the flip side is that the promo has emptied the consumers’ budget for attention and money. If the promo is big enough, it even entices some consumers to overspend a little bit (or a lot). When consumers have expended or exceeded their budget, they tend to engage with your brand less. They become immune to marketing messages and spend fewer dollars.
Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.

Now that we have the data we want in the chart, we use the advanced search to filter it down to only the traffic we want to see. Click the blue “Advanced” link beside the search bar that is just to the top right of your list of landing pages. This will open the Advanced search screen, where we want to setup our query. In the green drop down, choose “Medium” and in the text box at the end of the row we type “organic”. Click the Apply button below the query builder to apply this search.
Reddit is also worth a special mention here. It’s a cross between a social network and a web forum, which is a traffic source we’ll discuss later. Reddit is one of the largest sites online, and the entire focus of the site is based around posting links and discussing the content of those links. A lot of the content you see trend on Facebook or Twitter is trending because Reddit got hold of it and started engaging with it. However, Reddit is a very tricky platform to use for marketing. You have to avoid approaching it like a marketer, because Reddit users are like piranhas. If they sense you trying to use their audience for money, they’ll swarm you and savage you until you feel like you can’t use the site again. Make sure to read up and take great care before trying to market on Reddit.
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Otherwise you might end up polluting your website’s traffic. The pages filled with obsolete or low quality content aren’t useful or interesting to the visitor. Thus, they should be pruned for the sake of your website’s health. Low quality pages may affect the performance of the whole site. Even if the website itself plays by the rules, low-quality indexed content may ruin the organic traffic of the whole batch.
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
Conduct a quick Google search using “site:yourwebsite.com” to make sure your pages are actually indexed. If you’re noticing that critical pages aren’t appearing in the SERPs, you’ve likely found the culprit. Check your robots.txt file to make sure you haven’t blocked important pages or directories. If that looks good, check individual pages for a noindex tag.
This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.
Hey, Matt! Thank you for your sharing, and I learned much from it, but I still have a question. We began to do SEO work for our site 2 years ago, and our organic traffic grew 5 times ( from 8K to 40K every day). But two years later, it is very difficult to get it grow more, even it drop to 3.2K every day. So can you give me any advice to make our site's traffic grow again? Thank you in advance!

Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
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