The referral traffic represents all the visitors who arrive on your website through a page or another website. It is essentially users who click on a link found on a social network or another website and are automatically redirected to your website. These visitors will be considered as referral traffic in your Google Analytics reports.
Generating traffic is a real challenge for any marketer or website owner. Fortunately, the traffic sources have been split up to get a clear view of where each visitor comes from.
So, one of the traffic sources that webmasters can focus their efforts on in order to generate the most traffic to their websites, can potentially be the referral traffic
This traffic is the one that participates in the referencing of a site through the use of backlinks and several other factors. It offers several advantages to websites that know how to exploit it well.
- What is a traffic referral?
- What is its importance for a website?
- How to optimize it well to benefit from all its advantages?
You will find answers to these questions in the following article. Let’s go!
Chapter 1: Referral traffic: What is it?
In this chapter, I will present you what referral traffic is, its benefits and how to measure it with Google analytics.
1.1) What does traffic referral mean?
Referral traffic is the term that Google uses to designate a visitor to your site who comes from another website or another web page. It can be in particular:
- Web directories;
The referral traffic is therefore different from the traffic obtained through other sources of traffic and which are also taken into account by Google analytics, such as:
- Natural referencing (organic traffic) ;
- Paid advertising (Paid traffic);
- Social networks (Social traffic);
- Or emailing.
Here are at least three examples of referral traffic:
- In a price comparison site, a user who clicks on a merchant site;
- A user who refers to a blogger’s article in which he was advised a website to find a solution to his problems;
- A press article that mentions a source of information accompanied by a hypertext link that leads to the information page of a website.
The examples we have just cited allow us to generate referral traffic to the sites that hold the destination pages of these links.
1.2. The benefits of referral traffic
Referral traffic is a real source of growth in multimedia communication. However, it is a traffic channel that is too often underestimated or even ignored
As required by all effective acquisition leversreferral traffic must be used first of all to find solutions to the problems encountered by users. It must then provide these people with real added value.
Here are some of the advantages of referral traffic in multimedia communication:
- Referral traffic is a real source of traffic that can help all websites to achieve their objectives. This traffic can allow you to generate real sales through the access to contacts or the setting on line of products and services.
- Referral traffic can help the natural referencing of a site through the placement of hypertext links which will increase the authority of the site. This will increase the visibility of the page in the SERPs.
- The traffic referral is the one that strengthens your e-reputation this traffic represents a beneficial source of information for your e-reputation especially since it is available through search engines or social networks. A source of referral traffic can sometimes become a reassurance strategy for your website.
1.3. What does referral traffic represent in Google analytics?
Google analytics takes into account where your visitors come from to explain how you get traffic to your website. It also tells you what kind of actions these users take on your site once they land
In short, referral traffic is just one of the routes to your homepage or any other landing page you have.
1.3.1. How are referral traffic reports measured?
Google analytics provides what we call, a referral traffic analysis report or referral report. This report provides data about your referral traffic, in other words, data about the visitors that have been transferred to you by another website.
To access your referral report in Google analytics, follow these steps : On the home page, go to the tab “Acquisition “tab, then click on “All trafficand finally on “Referral sites.
Many SEO or digital marketing professionals are used to reading and dissecting data in order to help their website grow. But how much time do they spend on referral reports? Isn’t it time to put a little more energy into them?
Let me explain what these types of reports (referrals) really measure:
- The sites that referred you the sites that referred you: This can also include advertising;
- The volume of those visits for each referring site;
- The traffic rate, engagement and conversion by their source or globally.
This last point is essential. It’s one thing to be able to measure how many referrals you receive and from which site you receive them, but it’s another to know if those referrals are effective in driving leads.
What do KPIs tell you about your marketing campaigns?
Use your referral reports to:
- Evaluate traffic from social media;
- Analyze which sites your company is listed on;
- Determine the reach of your public relations.
Here’s a concrete example of how to use referral traffic data in Google analytics:
The metrics you get from your referral traffic analytics reports are very useful. In particular, you can use them to measure the return on investment of your referral sites.
But how is this possible?
By embedding UTM metrics into each of your social URLs, you can determine the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. That is:
- How well are your posts driving traffic to your website?
- How is the lead generation and conversion going?
- Which of the social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc) are most effective for your audience?
Overall, you’ll have a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t work for your social efforts.
The other way that referral traffic data provides you with is that it allows you to monitor the results of marketing done by influencers
Each influencer you collaborate with gets their own UTM parameter to integrate into the URL.
This way, you will be able to see which of these influencers are playing their influence role perfectly
Obviously, Google analytics has refined the data in the referral reports considerably. This way, they give you the possibility to do so many things that it is really worth your time and energy to exploit it.
1.3.2. What is referral traffic spam in Google analytics and how to stop it?
Now that you know what referral traffic means in Google analytics, it is important that you also have an idea about its bad side
This is the referral spam in Google analytics.
So what do we mean by referral spam in Google analytics? Referral spam basically consists of unsolicited or unauthorized website visits.
It is often believed that the bots that visit our websites do not have a great impact in the long run. This idea is wrong, because spam can compromise your marketing and your analytics.
In fact, the moment you use benchmark reports to evaluate the performance of your campaigns, spam can show up and confuse you.
For example, when you record a large number of referral spams in Google analytics, your referral traffic statistics may look much higher than they really are.
In reality, you should know that the robots do not visit your site, they do not collect any information or take any action. You couldn’t expect more from a robot, of course
By their actions, they can also affect your bounce rate and the average time spent on the site.
To top it all off, referral spam mainly targets small and medium-sized businesses, as well as small and large marketing startups
But let’s rejoice, because there is a quick and effective way to fight referral spam in Google analytics. We detail it here.
- Filtering segmentation and spam blocking
First, it is important to remove spam attempts that already exist in Google analytics
Instead of clicking on the “Referring sites” button button in “All Traffic” buttonbutton, select “channels” then go to the “dimension dimension” tab and finally click on “source/medium.
Add a new segment and go to the advanced conditions settings. Perform a filter by Behavior, then by Host name and Content and finally by Regex match
On the right side of these options you will find a box in which you can type. In this box, copy and paste the following string:
Then below the “OR” section, copy and paste the following string of sentences
Below yet another “OR” section, copy and paste this string of sentences:
Finally, perform the same procedure again, this time inserting the following string:
All of these will be matched with the hostname and corresponding regex filters.
This list of existing spam sources is not complete, but it is relatively large.
After eliminating the existing spam, you can proceed to filter the spam to be blocked in the future
To do this, simply set up filters directly in Google analytics. Then, search for the reference spam every month and update the filters.
Identify the spam domain name in the “references” section. By doing so, you will know which of them represent spam based on the bounce rate and empty session duration
Then, proceed to block these spams in the tab “admin“tab by adding a spam domain name filter.
- Using the referral report to monitor referral spam
As expected, we will also explain how to stop referral spam using Google analytics referral reports.
To start, look at your referral report and sort the data from maximum bounce rate to minimum bounce rate. Consider all referral sites with a 100% bounce rate as spam.
It is also possible to view the advanced filtering settings on the same page. This allows you to see the lowest session durations, keeping in mind that low session durations are spam.
As long as you are on the reference report, you have the possibility to manually add to a list of deletionsall referral spam in Google analytics.
It should be noted that this method is not fully guaranteed, as it requires constant updating to be effective.
The application of all these methods will allow you to improve things. While you may not be able to completely eliminate referral spam, these steps will help you make much faster progress than if you did nothing.
Now we’ll move on to how to increase our site’s referral traffic so that we can fully enjoy it.
Chapter 2: 07 tips to increase your site’s referral traffic
All traffic is the same as long as the traffic represents users who are going to your site, the only difference is the source from which it comes
Regarding these sources, I had paraphrased a little above, but I would like to give you some clarifications about them.
We actually distinguish 05 main sources of traffic
- Direct traffic direct traffic: This is the users who have directly entered the URL of your site in a search engine;
- Organic traffic these are visitors who landed on your site through search engines, on Google or Bing for example.
- Paid traffic these are visitors who clicked on an ad and landed on a site or landing page. This ad has been sponsored by the company on dedicated platforms such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads… ;
- Social traffic this is the number of people who have accessed your site from a link on social networks;
- Referral traffic the referral traffic: The one we are currently studying, which represents the visitors who landed on your site by clicking on a link found on another site.
When we look closely at these sources of traffic, we can see one thing. We can see that the common denominator is traffic. And when we talk about traffic, we talk about customers, and customers mean revenue.
In this case, we are dealing with referral traffic and I am going to present to you without further ado 07 methods to be implemented to boost it
2.1. Get your website published in web directories
The publication of your website in web directories is one of the most effective methods to get referral traffic. But it is important not to publish your website in all the available directories.
Instead, you should focus on the ones that best fit your business or are likely to generate the most traffic.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a veterinarian in saint louis or a life assistance facility in Daytona Beach, the Moz site can help. It offers free resources that allow you to find the best directories by category and region.
You can also use 1two.orgwhich is a free generalist directory. And probably one of the best ones to help you achieve your goals.
After submitting your website to the best directories for your city or niche, focus on the directories that will bring you the most traffic.
To find out which directories can help you achieve this goal, simply do a Google search on directories. The directories that will appear at the top of the search results should generate the most traffic.
For example, if you search on ” Personal trainers in Parisfor example, if you search for “personal trainers in Paris”, four directories will appear on the first page of the search. See the image below:
It would be difficult for you to use SEO to get ahead of these directories in the SERPs overnight
The best thing you can do is to register your site on these four directories to get qualified traffic as well as free SEO.
After all, if a user is looking for a personal trainer in Paris and comes across your site in one of these directories, that referred visitor is just as valuable to you as the one who arrives at your website directly.
2.2. Make yourself known on review sites
It is important to know that you can easily get referral traffic on review sites
This is because the users of these sites have already passed the first steps of the buying journey
The only thing left for them to do is to compare products or vendors in order to make a purchase decision. So there is no better time than now to showcase your products.
Getting listed on a review site can depend on whether you are a B2B or B2C
When you run a search on “reviews of roofing companies in saint louiswhen you search for “roofing company reviews in St. Louis,” you’ll see four websites that you would probably want to be listed on if you were a roofer: YellowPages, jobs, fast-roofer, and scanrenovation.
Being a roofer, by listing your site on these four review sites, you multiply the chances that your site will be spotted during a buyer’s decision making phase
If your roofing company is respectable and offers fair treatment to its customers, you should have no trouble standing out from other roofing companies that have less favorable reviews.
For b2B companiescompanies, it’s more complicated for them to promote themselves on review sites. Most often, you have to pay to have your site appear at the top of the review list.
When you do a Google search on “the best mobile application developers“the first search result you will see is “sortlist.com”. This site presents a series of mobile application developers with reviews.
But when you look closely at this you will see that they are ranked by sponsorship.
In reality, these companies pay to have their site and their reviews appear in priority. This is a way for the review site to make a profit while maintaining its good reputation as a reliable source of reviews.
2.3. get guest blog posts published
Guest blog posts offer several opportunities to get referral traffic to your website. Most blogs contain:
- External links;
- Biographies of content authors;
- Call-to-action buttons.
If you then manage to publish an article on a reputable website that is related to your industry, you will be able to get referral traffic as well as links to your website. It is best to target websites that are references in your industry.
As an inbound marketing agency, HubSpot is an example of a site where you can publish your guest blog post. It is probably one of the best in its field.
Right away, I’ll give you some tips that you can follow when you want to publish a guest article.
- Target only sites that are related to your business no one wants to read about fashion trends on a blog dedicated to ammunition and guns;
- Think about the target audience when writing think about the target audience when writing: Most blogs have strict rules about guest bloggers, so it’s important to write content that matches the target audience;
- Write content under your own name write content under your own name: You don’t want someone else to get the credit for your work;
- Build relationships with influencers establish relationships with influencers: They may notice you and even help promote your guest blog post, which could increase the referral traffic coming from it.
2.4. Leverage social media
According to Social Media Examinera whopping 89% of marketing professionals said that social media has helped their companies increase their visibility
In addition, three-quarters of these people felt that efforts on social media have resulted in increased had resulted in increased traffic to their websites
The top social media platforms used by online marketing professionals are:
Social media presence these days, is not just a fad, but also represents a certified source to get traffic, leads and sales.
By sharing, liking or pinning content, you create an opportunity to drive referral traffic to your website every time. In addition, you multiply the chances of the content appearing at the top of Google’s list.
About 58% of marketers who use social media for their business reported improved search engine rankings
As I just revealed to you, not only does traffic bring you more customers to your site, but it also helps with your site’s SEO.
2.5. Comment on blogs
One of the questions people often ask is this: Does commenting on blogs help with SEO? It does! In addition to helping with SEO, commenting can also help you generate more referral traffic to your website.
According to Neil Patelneil Patel says that posting more than 250 comments on blogs has brought him more than 4000 visitors to his website. Commenting on blogs will undoubtedly increase the amount of referral traffic.
Just be careful not to fill the sites with more spam. Here are some tips for first time blog commenters:
- Make sure your comments are relevant make sure your comments are relevant: No one likes people who complain or brag. So avoid making negative or promotional comments on blogs;
- Focus your energy on blogs that allow links in comments: Keep in mind your goal, which is to generate more traffic on your site. Keep in mind your goal of driving more traffic to your site, so it’s important to link to your site in a comment;
- Be the first to comment posts: As with search engines, if your link is at the top of the comment thread, you have more opportunity to generate a lot of clicks and traffic.
2.6. Be an active participant in your industry forums
Groups and forums on the internet are a great source of leads and customers, but again these are overlooked by marketers to generate traffic
Just like blog comments, you should focus your energy on forums related to your niche while trying to add value without being promotional.
Here are some tips for successful forum marketing:
- Check if the forum you have targeted is active it is useless to waste your time on a forum that has no new post for weeks;
- Register on the forums with your your brand name this ensures that members associate your posts with a memorable brand name;
- Create a call-to-action link in your signature create a call to action link in your signature: This is how you will attract traffic to your site;
- Participate in the forum be active on the forum, intervene on the themes of the forum in which you have the most expertise;
- Use concrete examples it is important not to limit yourself to giving only advice, nobody likes those who think they know everything. Try to add value by using situations that you have experienced yourself;
- Share information share information: Start a new discussion by sharing a link to a resource that may be useful to the forum. If you like a specific piece of content, it is likely that other members will like it too.
2.7. Get infographics published
Marketing professionals were asked to choose the most important form of content for their businesses. Of these marketers, 31% chose images
For the simple reason, that humans have an easier time consuming visual data than long text.
It has been shown that humans have a shorter attention span. So there is nothing like a successful graphic illustration to capture their attention.
The advantage with infographics is that they allow users to understand complex elements with the help of simple images or diagrams
Your goal will be to get people to share, like and pin your visual content on social networks so that others will embed them in their posts like I just did with the image above. This will weave links back to your website.
Besides your own website, there are also sites where you can post your infographics. Some of my favorite sharing sites include Pinterest. Indeed, Pinterest is responsible for nearly 5% of all referral traffic to websites, after Facebook.
The platform (Pinterest) allows you to link your infographic to your website and thus allows you to easily share it on other platforms.
Chapter 3: Other questions asked about referral traffic
3.1: What is referral traffic in Google Analytics?
Referral traffic in Google Analytics occurs when a third-party website or social network sends you traffic, resulting in a wave of new users from other sites.
This can happen via a URL, hypertext image, banner or other types of mentions.
3.2. Why is referral traffic important?
Referral traffic is important for your website for two main reasons
Reason One: Visitors who clicked on a link on other sites to land on your page are people who are in need and can become repeat visitors.
In addition, by reviewing the list of referrals, you can better identify the interests of those users who come from other sites, optimize your content for them and convert them into customers.
Second reason: Getting customers isn’t everything, you’ll also rank better in search engines and this will help your SEO strategy.
3.3. how to get referral traffic?
- Publish your website in web directories;
- Have well optimized profiles on review sites;
- Take advantage of social networks;
- Comment on other blogs in your field;
- Be active on forums in your field;
- Publish infographics.
3.4. What do referral reports measure?
Google Analytics offers what is called a referral report.
Referral reports in Google Analytics provide data about your referral traffic or visitors that another website has referred to you.
You can access your referral report by doing this in Google Analytics:
Acquisition → All Traffic → Referring Sites
It doesn’t matter if you’re a simple website owner or a digital marketer, you should essentially leverage referral traffic. For those who may not have remembered, this is traffic obtained when users click on your site’s link embedded on another site.
This traffic can be measured thanks to several analysis tools, the most frequent is the famous Google analytics tool. This tool allows you to identify the different sites that refer traffic to your site. It also allows you to manage referral spam and correct it.
Like any traffic, the referral traffic has several advantages. In particular, it allows you to generate potential customers, but also participates in the natural referencing of your site. But first it is important to be able to use it well.
With this in mind, I have presented in this content, 07 different methods you can use to increase your referral traffic in order to better enjoy its benefits.
I hope you found this content useful. We look forward to your feedback.
Thanks and see you soon!