12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 2 (Referring Sites)

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love”

This lyric from “The Christmas Waltz”, recently updated and recorded by She & Him (a favorite duo of mine), says it perfectly.  We are all hoping for love this holiday season.  Love from family.  Love from friends.  Love from all the people who are doing their holiday shopping online.

To experience love this Christmas some kind of matchmaker has to be involved.  It could be a cousin who introduces you to the love of your life.  It could be your vehicle that will transport you to visit your children and grandchildren.  It could be Twitter that unites you with some new followers. Or Facebook that connects you with more “likes.” Or it could be some faithful partners linking to your website.

You want people to visit your website. But how do you increase the number of people that find your website? One way to do that is through search engine optimization (SEO), and a part of SEO is linking other good sites to yours. That’s where referring sites come in.  Referring sites are the matchmaker.  They are the site that someone looks at, and then sees your site mentioned, and then clicks on the link to find you.

Google provides some great tools in Google Analytics that show you how traffic to your site is generated. In your Google Analytics Report head to the Traffic Sources section. There Google will show you three types of traffic:

  • Search Traffic
  • Referral Traffic
  • Direct Traffic

Traffic sources in Google Analytics

Search Traffic

These are visitors that type in a keyword into one of the many search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and click on a link to your website from the search engine results page. This is a great way to see which search engines are bringing you the most traffic. It’s also a great way to see which keywords are bringing people to your site (but we’ll get into that tomorrow)

Referral Traffic

Referral Traffic shows you the number of sites from which visitors clicked on a link that took them to your website. This is a great way to see which of your loyal promoters are sending you the most traffic. Also, if you are doing any paid advertising, this will give you an indicator of the results being generated by the site on which you are advertising.

list of referring sites

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is pretty easy to figure out. That is the number of people that already know your URL and are typing it directly into the address bar at the top of the screen.

The more referring sites the better is a general rule. However, just as linking to a good site can bring your “image” on the search engines up, the opposite is also true. A link to or from a poor site can also bring your website down in rankings.

So contact your matchmakers (or should we say referring business partners) this holiday season, and if they have a good website (check Website Grade and make sure they have a score above at least 30 as a starting point), ask if you can refer business to one another by placing links on your respective websites.

So, from She & Him and everyone at Turn The Page,

“May your New Year’s dreams come true” … and may you find some good websites that will link to you.

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