Is Referral Traffic Important? How to Start Analyzing it?
It is common for marketers to focus on traffic from search engines. As what many SEO practitioners or specialists have mentioned, those people are your low-hanging fruit because they are looking at what they provide and it will usually convert better than other traffic types.
But is referral traffic great enough for you to ignore other modes of traffic?
Referral traffic are visitors that enter your site from a third party blog or site. This could mean that this group of users also have some basic level of trust in you since the third party site has already done the first round of promotion.
Here are some metrics you can look into to have a better understanding on your referral traffic:
If some of the referring sites have a high bounce rate, your performance and conversions from these traffic sources are likely to be low. It will be a good idea to try finding out if the high bounce rate is due to the usability of your landing page. Platforms like Google Tag Manager and Crazy Egg will be able to give you a better understanding of how visitors are interacting on your site.
Besides monitoring the interaction, do also try to conduct A/B Testing via Google Optimize on your landing pages and see if differing messages could improve on the bounce rate figures.
Pageviews per visitor
If you have a healthy group of referral sources and you are running an ad driven revenue website, it will be a good idea to monitor which referral source brings you the most pageviews per user. Besides drawing revenue from visitors that gain impression on your ads space, you are able to know if your referrals are bringing interested readers to you.
After getting pageview traffic numbers from each referral through your Google Analytics or other traffic platforms, think about why certain sites bring you a much higher pageview per user compared to others. It will be a good idea to consider creating a business relationship with sites that:
brings you the best quality visitors
have not linked with you but are relevant to your business
Time on site
Trying to make an unwilling person spend longer time on your site is a very difficult thing to do. It is always okay to ignore a small section of such visitors. However, if most of the referral traffic are behaving the same way, this could signal that there's a lot of room for you to improve on your site.
The most low-cost way to gain an understanding on this problem is to conduct a survey like Survey Monkey with your audience using an online survey tool. This way you can have an initial understanding on what they liked and disliked about your site.
There will definitely be a great sense of achievement if you see that visitors increase their time spent on your site after making improvements.
Measurement of a successful site is not just based on the total absolute traffic numbers. There are many other underlying numbers that you should look at and engagement level would be one of the top actionable metrics that you should monitor.
The definition for engagement varies from site to site. For a blog, the most common engagement metric could mean the number of comments users made on your posts and you would want more of such users visiting your site.
The focal point here is to find out which referral site brings you the best engaging visitors and look for ways to improve on the business relationship with that third party site.
Percentage of new visitors
Besides separating the absolute traffic numbers among different sources, it is good to also look at which traffic sources are bringing you new visitors.
At the end of the day, you would want your website to gain new eyes in reading about what you have to offer. Monitoring this metric will be a good practice.
To gain new visitors, another method is to find where your low-hanging fruits are.
When you look at your referral list, focus on good quality and popular sites that just started linking to you but are not driving much traffic. Since they have an article linking to you once, you have a very high chance of getting another link again. Having a popular site linking to you will also serve as a good SEO factor for search engines to pick up.
Geographical based traffic
If your business is looking at gathering sales beyond just the local borders, you need to start going after regional traffic. Understanding which referral sites that could bring you the geo-specific traffic is important.
One of the easiest ways to gain regional traffic would be to create business events for each targeted region and to monitor if there are referral sites that would bring you region-targeted traffic. If there are, consider contacting those referral sites to explore further collaborations.
Traffic is definitely not always about quantity. If you want to grow your websites full of visitors that are interested in you and your business, monitor the quality of each referral traffic.