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Referral Traffic in Google Analytics – Complete Guide

Any online business or page is only functional if there’s enough website traffic. Incoming traffic is what drives up sales and boosts the growth of the website and, consequently, the business in general. This is exactly why companies all over the world spend a good part of their funding on digital marketing. Marketers make use of SEO, PPC, blogging, social media marketing, and other similar methods to drive up the percentage of traffic visiting their clients’ websites every day.

While a lot of funds go into search engine optimization, it invariably takes time to take off. On the other hand, pay-per-click ads can be rather expensive. And a million different blogs on the same topic are currently flooding the internet. So, what can a marketer do to improve website traffic when the usual methods aren’t bringing in the results they are expected to? This is where referral traffic comes in.

What Is Referral Traffic? 

When a potential customer clicks on a link on another website or completes some task that leads them to your brand’s website, that visitor makes up referral traffic.

Referral traffic often works by using backlinks i.e. leading visitors from external — but trusted — websites or platforms to yours. When visitors visit your domain without actually looking you up on Google, Google Analytics counts such visits as referral traffic. Brands themselves can track where the traffic is coming from by using UTM codes that pinpoint the exact websites that are leading said visitors to your domain.

Importance of Referral Traffic 

Once you know what is referral traffic, you will know that it comes with a range of perks and the SEO benefits you incur from it are just the tip of that iceberg. Search engines like Google and Bing consider referral traffic as a good sign i.e. a positive factor when it comes to ranking. This is because, when a person clicks on a link on a social media platform or an external website, the fact that a trusted website is leading viewers to your domain makes your website look good and equally trustworthy.

Marketers can lead visitors from trusted websites. Since these are qualified visitors, there is a higher chance of them turning into potential leads and even getting converted to new customers or subscribers for your brand.

How to View Referral Traffic Sources? 

Once you log in to your analytics dashboard and head to “Referrals” from “Traffic Sources”, you will find a graph listing your referral traffic sources so you will know exactly which platforms or websites your referral traffic is originating from. 

The usual factors tracked are the source of the traffic, the bounce rate (how many visitors abandon the website without interacting with anything), the percentage of new visitors, and how much time these visitors are spending on your domain.

From there, you can find your best source(s) of referral traffic by focusing the search using the factors that are key to you and your brand.

How is Referral Traffic Calculated? 

The process of tracking referral traffic is simple enough. Since referral traffic goes through the browser of a user, the data gets tracked and forwarded using the HTTP referrer. What this allows the referrer to do is not only track the source where that particular visitor originated from but also where they are located at that moment. 

Once a visitor clicks a link to your domain, their browser forwards a request to the server of your domain. This request also includes information about where the user was before they were led to your site. This information is then recorded by Google Analytics and used to generate the report they present to you when you visit the referral section of analytics.

Benefits of referral traffic 

The benefits of referral traffic are plenty. Some of them have been listed below:

  • Since Google treats backlinks from trusted websites as a positive sign, referral traffic can improve your website’s SEO as long as you make consistent use of backlinks from trusted websites.
  • Referral traffic can drastically increase your brand’s recognition and exposure.
  • Since visitors that makeup referral traffic are visiting your domain from trusted websites, they are more likely to trust your brand and the products and services you have on offer. 
  • Referral traffic also allows you to gain more exposure to an audience that you may not have targeted before but one that is equally willing to purchase products or services from you.

Tips to Build Referral Traffic

Listed below are a few tips and tricks that can help you considerably improve your referral traffic:

1. Submit Your Website To the Top Online Directories 

One of the best ways to generate referral traffic for your website is to list your domain in the top online directories. But not all directories will offer up the same benefits so it is important to choose the ones that are relevant to your industry. Begin by submitting your website to the top directories in your city. This is especially important if your store has an online location in any particular city.

Once done, move on to find the top directories in your industry. These are the ones that can generate some serious referral traffic for your domain. Finding such directories is pretty easy too. Just Google the products or services you have on offer.

2. Take help of Review Websites 

Review websites are one of the best sources to get referral traffic. Since the visitors to these websites are already looking at the reviews of products, it can be assumed that they are not only aware of the product but that they have also passed through the consideration stage and are now deciding what to buy. If your product appears in front of the users at the decision-making point of the brand funnel, it exponentially increases the chances of your lead getting converted.

3. Guest blogging 

Guest blogging is another great way to get referral traffic. These guest blogs include a call to action, external links, and author bios — all of which help generate referral traffic. But, while guest blogging is a pretty great way of generating referral traffic, not all blogs are made the same. 

Websites that will generate respectable leads once you are able to convince them to publish your guest blog post are usually the industry leaders. Here are some things you should consider while trying to publish your guest blog:

  • Target industry leaders: If you sell baked goods, focus on websites that have made a name for themselves in the food and lifestyle industry. After all, someone visiting a website about estate executors does not care if your cupcakes come with sprinkles made from scratch.
  • Consider your target audience: Don’t just try to sell something. At least don’t be too obvious about the fact that all you want readers to do is visit your website. Give them something to work with. Work on creating a quality article that addresses a problem offers a solution or a guide or gives the user something interesting or informative.
  • Include your and your brand’s details: You worked hard on this blog, probably even had to pay some serious cash to have it published. So, you don’t want the credit to go to someone else. Instead, remember to include your and your brand’s details so the credit goes where it’s due.
  • Name drop: Don’t be shy to include the names of an influencer or two. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire them to give your post a quick share or shoutout, again, boosting your referral traffic.  

4. Local partner sites 

Leverage local partners to improve your referral traffic. You can sponsor events in your locality to get your brand more exposure. Or you can attend and speak at local conferences and sneak in mentions of your brand while connecting to your audience on the ground level.

5. Leverage Social Media Networks 

Nothing beats social media marketing when it comes to generating social referral traffic. Every social media post you make is another opportunity to interact with your target audience, increase your brand’s exposure, and get introduced to a diverse audience. Targeting social media platforms can help you rank at the top of search engines while increasing social referral traffic

6. Blog Commenting 

Blog commenting comes with multiple perks and improving your site’s SEO is just one of them. Consistently commenting on blogs can help boost the Google Analytics referral traffic to your domain. Just make sure that your comments actually have substance and are not just spammy sales comments. 

Also, remember to choose blogs that include links in the comments because the idea is to generate referral traffic here. Finally, remember to stay up to date on posts because, if your comments aren’t at the top of the posts, chances are, no one’s ever gonna see them.

7. Be Active On Online Forums 

The idea is similar to adding blog comments. Being active with your comments and insights in forums in your industry niche can improve your website’s exposure and generate great referral traffic. But it is important to remember to add value to your posts and comments. 

Other than that, make sure that you are posting in an active forum, have signed in using your brand id to improve exposure, include CTAs in your signature, add value with stories and experience, and share links to resources so readers know that you are dependable. 

8. Develop ego-bait content 

Something as simple as boosting an influencer’s or entrepreneur’s ego by featuring them on your site or mentioning their product line can help you get a shoutout or a share that can come in very handy in increasing the google analytics referral traffic to your website.

9. Publish infographics & attractive images

Visuals are the greatest weapon of the marketer. Users are much more likely to interact with visuals than they are with walls of text. So, make sure to make ample use of visuals like infographics to promote your products, share industry insights, or offer valuable tips and tricks on different websites and social media platforms and watch your referral traffic increase tenfold. 

Conclusion 

Referral traffic comes with a hundred perks and then some. It is one of the best and most underutilized ways out there to get qualified visitors that are easier to convert to leads. Marketers who are aware of this can focus strategies to direct more referral traffic to their client’s websites and, while the tips and tricks mentioned in this article may not make your brand go viral overnight, with consistent effort, they can help generate and convert leads that can turn your brand into a success in the long run.

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