Here’s a good point about interpreting high traffic spikes. It’s from Google’s Brett Crosby, as reported by Online Media Daily.
If you get a sudden bump in visits due to a breaking news event, don’t celebrate until you look at the time of day of the spikes, the timing of your competitor’s posts, and your bounce rates.
Your competitor might have posted before you did. And if your competitor had better coverage, your bounce rate would probably reflect it.
Then, use attitudinal research to gauge whether the traffic spikes led to building audiences in the long run. For example, you can survey people to see whether they think your site “always has the latest news about [a topic] before anyone else.”
Be sure to include a healthy sample of non-users and light users in your surveys. It will be more time-consuming and expensive – and perhaps painful. But listening only to your current users through online pop-up surveys won’t give you the insight you need to grow online audiences.