Last updated in October 2022
What is referral traffic?
Referral traffic is the segment of traffic that arrives on your website through another source, like through a link on another domain. Other types of traffic include organic traffic, which comes from search engines, direct traffic, which happens when someone directly enters your URL into their address bar, and paid traffic, which comes through an advertising source.
If you monitor trends in your referral traffic, you are better positioned to understand your readers and what matters to them.
If you work for a B2B company, you might find that the majority of your social referral traffic comes from LinkedIn, as the platform’s audience tends to be more professional than Twitter’s, for example. By the same token, If TikTok is sending traffic your way, it’s likely your audience skews younger.
If an authoritative websites and platforms send referral traffic your way, it may be more qualified traffic and worth extra care to nurture into leads and, eventually, customers.
The benefits of referral traffic
Optimizing for your referral traffic and diversifying your referral sources helps you grow your audience, attract better-qualified leads, and rely less on any one channel.
Google and other search engines rank websites based on the quantity and quality of the backlinks your content accrues. Consequently, the more authoritative websites link to your content, the more trustworthy you are in the eyes of both Google and your visitors.
That trustworthiness is measured by what is called domain authority. The higher your domain authority, the easier it is for you to rank for more keywords. As you rank for more keywords, you also build your credibility and expand your audience even further.
How to increase referral traffic
The best way to increase referral traffic is to make sure that your readers can find content by or about your company wherever they like to spend time on the internet.
That means you need to understand where your audience consumes content (Which social platforms? Which aggregators? Which influencers?) and what they care to learn about on the various websites they frequent. Then, you give them what they want, where they want it.
Common tactics for increasing referral traffic include:
Showing up on review sites
Make sure your product is listed on review sites relevant to your industry. For example, SaaS companies will want to be included on sites like TrustRadius and G2.
Promoting guest posts
Engage with the wider community around your industry. Establish relationships with bloggers and companies in your niche. As you prove to be a helpful and valuable resource to them, you open up opportunities to write guest posts, appear in podcasts, and contribute videos.
This introduces your brand to a new audience on a site they trust. These relationships might lead to more business opportunities and partnerships for your company down the road.
Cultivating social media
Your social media channels are a prime opportunity to provide even more value to your existing audience and introduce your content to people who may have never found you otherwise.
While it’s OK to link back to your website sometimes, be careful not to be overly self-promotional on social, or you risk alienating an audience that may not be ready to be sold to.
Being active in forums
Forums such as Reddit and Quora are great opportunities to mix and mingle with communities of people who share similar interests and common pain points. These channels require an honest, transparent tone, though. So, be helpful, not sales-y.
The more you are seen as a valuable contributor to the community, the more likely members of that community will reference your website of their own accord.
Learn how referral traffic is affecting your business performance
Referral traffic is valuable traffic, but you need the right content analytics tool to understand and maximize that value. Learn how Parse.ly can reveal deeper insights about where your audience is coming from and why they are coming to your site.
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