If you are not monitoring your referral traffic you are losing out on thousands of visitors and dollars. There are basically two ways to increase referral traffic. Find new referral sources and optimize the current referral sources. In this blog post I will mainly talk more about how to optimize your existing referral traffic sources. At the end I will list down few ways to get new sources as well.
Analyzing and Categorizing Referral Traffic Sources
Before optimizing you should analyze and categorize your referral sources. Usually I only consider the first 25 referral sources. If its a large site any source that brings more than 1000 visitors a month can be considered. If you are getting considerable traffic from Google image search you will see "google.com / google.co.uk / google.co.in" as traffic sources. You can filter them out using the advanced search feature. After identifying your referral sources you can start categorizing them. I usually divide them into three categories. Quick fix, medium fix and the hard fix.
Increase Referral Traffic ( Quick Fixes )
Quick fixes are the ones that you can get a traffic boost by few simple actions. Below examples highlight some quick fixes.
- Pinterest images - If you start to see traffic from Pinterest you can ask your friends and peers to re-pin and like the ones that are bringing the most traffic. It's very easy to track these using Google analytic tools. Pinterest can be a major source of referrals if you have beautiful pictures available in your website.
- Quora questions - Quora is a Q & A site and a great source for highly targeted traffic. If you are getting traffic from them check which questions are bringing you the most traffic. If the answer with your link is not at the top you can vote up that answer for more exposure. Something similar to this can be done in quite a few Q & A sites.
- Stumbleupon links - This one is self explanatory. If some web page is getting lots of views in Stumbleupon get more likes and shares to that page. Similarly you can do this for Digg, Reddit etc.
Medium Fixes that Can Increase Referral Traffic
- Website Directories - Most website directories wont bring you much traffic but it is important to optimize the ones that do send traffic. See if you can add tags, categories etc to bring more exposure to your website.
- Review Sites - This mostly applies to product or service provider websites. If you are listed in some review site look for ways to improve your grading or positioning. This is especially true if you have a evolving product. You might have a feature now that you didn't have when the review was done. Also you might have given a solution to a negative point mentioned in the review. Contact the author and get them rectified.
- Software Directories - This mostly applies to product vendors. If you are listed in some software directory chances are there is a user grading system. If you are confident about your product don't hesitate to contact your customers and ask them for a quick rating or a vote. If you have happy customers you are sure to see great results from this.
Hard Fixes that Needs Careful Planning
Hard fixes are ones that needs lots of planning and which usually takes time to deliver. Because the effort and the cost is significant some of the things mentioned here are not suitable for every website.
- Getting Wikipedia Traffic - Wikipedia is a hugely respected website and their pages rank very well for most search terms. However it's very hard to get an external link from a wiki page, especially for competitive niches. But it is perfectly alright to link to other wiki pages and other editors mostly ignore them. So what you need to do is create a wiki page for your product or website. You can add some external links and create a genuinely useful wiki page. Now you can link to this page from other established wiki pages . This method is very successful if you have a product and targeting multiple keywords.
- Building Links for Others- Another strategy that should be carefully planned but that can increase referral traffic significantly. If some website is constantly sending you traffic for a long time it usually means that article has ranked well in search engines for a high traffic keyword. Usually these are list type articles like "Seven tools to build something", "Seven websites to track something" etc. If they rank number one for those keywords you don't have to do anything. But if they are not the first result see if you can help the page improve the rankings by building some back links. There are few things to consider before following this strategy.
- Is the traffic converting well ? YES
- Can you outrank it easily ? NO ( it's hard if it's an authority site etc. )
- Can it be done without much effort ? YES ( if its an authority site few well anchored back links will do the trick )
Mentioned above are some ways you can increase referral traffic from the current sources. But unless your websites or blog becoming established you wont have much sources to tweak. So below are few ways to find new referral traffic sources.
New Referral Traffic Sources
- Blog Commenting - One of the easiest ways to get new referral traffic, especially if the blog is new. If you are using a plugin like CommentLuv you can even get back links to specific posts instead of the home page. If you are the first to comment in a popular blog you can get some significant traffic this way. Make sure to leave a intelligent comment. Below article gives some helpful tips on how to get the best out of blog commenting.
- Guest Posts - One of the best ways to get referral traffic and helps to build your authority as well. There are countless posts written about the benefits of guest blogging so I wont go into detail here. Check this article for an overview of guest blogging.
- Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon etc - Most social networking and social bookmarking sites are a good way to increase referral traffic. My preferred choice is Stumbleupon because traffic from then tend to stay longer and usually the referral traffic is growing constantly.
- Forums - If you want to see significant traffic you need to be active in forums. Also it takes time to build your reputation in a forum and get enough people to click your links. If you're using them method better to stick to two or three forums.
Importance of Increasing Referral Traffic
Some might wonder why it is important to increase referral traffic by tweaking existing traffic sources when you can use that time to work on SEO or other important activity of your blog. The simple answer is that it is much easier to tweak an existing source than to find new ones. Other benefits include increase in search engine rankings, higher chance of your content going viral etc.
Finally all the methods mentioned above wont increase referral traffic for every blog or website. When I discuss these strategies in meet-ups and gatherings there are many who disagree with me, especially about the hard tasks. But in some niches they perform exceptionally well.
The article was longer than I expected but I hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it . Got any ideas to tweak referral sources or find new referral sources ? Feel free to share them in the comments section. It's the best place to ask questions as well.