The Value of Referral Links

Next time you log on your Google Analytics account, verify the Traffic Sources Overview page, especially the pie chart that shows your sources. How much of your traffic comes from referring sources and how much from the rest? More than 20% of your traffic can come form referring sites such as blogs.wsj.com, Businessweek.com and Wired.com. Although it is a smaller percentage than that resulted from search traffic, you must recognize the value of referral links.

Experts tell us that site owners should care about their smallest source of traffic, because at the end of the day, there are billion search phrases, trillion web sites and only ten-twenty search results everybody fights for. Only those site that find ways to create link profiles and provide traffic other than from Google will survive and thrive. Think about what happens if those ranking at Google you worked so hard for suddenly vanish.

Of course, nobody can deny that we live in a Google environment, and the main reason SEO industry exists is because Google exists. Although most sites who want to keep their doors open can’t ignore this, there is another interesting theory. If thousands of websites fight for for that one #1 spot per keyword, how do people find websites that are not top 10 in Google? The answer is simple: the same way they did before Google existed, through referral links. The referral links used to be the only way a site could generate traffic, so it was the only practice.

Moreover, the visitors from referral links can actually be better potential customers than those who come organically to your website, if the source is good. For example, if you are the owner of a pet store, refereed visitors from Where My Dogs At app can convert better than those who are running a search on pet stores. Furthermore, referred visitors from a vet’s website might bring you more cash than someone who came across your site in Google, because they are more willing to spend on training classes or organic dog food. They will consider you trustworthy if their vet refereed your website.

Another important aspect you must consider about referral links is that each link can drive targeted traffic to your website. This is because they don’t just make you look better in search engines, but also send visitors over time. If you look at links as a source for traffic and not only as means to rank better, you tend to create more relevant referral links. If you still don’t recognize their value, do the math: if you have 100 referral links and each send 10 visitors a month, than in one year you will have 12,000 targeted visitors.

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