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How To Generate Traffic To A Site, Part 3 – Direct and Referral Traffic

Posted on the 21 March 2012 by Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg
Raw Statistics - PBS @NewsHour Search Engine Referrals Lose to Social Media #SEO #SocialMedia

I wish this was the referral traffic for Diamonds or Dogs!

As we discussed in the last two posts, search traffic is those people who are searching (duh!) for something on Google or other search engines and then find your site in the paid or organic search results.  Direct and Referral traffic refers to something completely different.

  • Direct traffic – People who are going straight to your site.  They’re launching the browser, typing in your URL and pressing enter.
  • Referral Traffic – These are folks who go to your site through a link from another site.  No, it’s not a search result, it’s a link and I’ll talk about those in a second.

For me, I’d love for Diamonds or Dogs to get famous enough that direct traffic makes up a meaningful portion of my traffic.  However, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.  Think about it, how often do you just go to a site?  Sure, you head straight to Google or Facebook or Amazon, but most other sites you found by accident.  You needed to hear about them before you headed to them and that means referral traffic.  In fact, I think referral traffic is where every site needs to start and focus their efforts.

So How Do We Get Referral Traffic?

There are a number of ways and I will describe them briefly here and then go into more detail in later posts.

  • Guest Posting – Remember this one from the SEO post?  Yes, guest posting is great for referral traffic.  It’s going to expose you to audiences that have never heard of you.  You write a post for some other site and they in return include a link to yours.
  • Link Exchange – Another one from the SEO post.  You’re basically asking another site to include a link to your site.  In exchange, you’ll include a link to their site.
  • Social Sharing – You know that facebook like button?  Yes, it can generate a lot of traffic if people start using it when viewing your content.  Their friends see their likes and like your content and… well, you can see where this is going.  By the way, I include sites like Pinterest in this category.
  • Public Relations – This means you’re trying to get your site mentioned by some kind of news outlet.  For example, I’m trying to get Diamonds or Dogs written up on Tech Crunch.
  • Marketing – This is the referral traffic version of SEM.  In this case you’re paying someone to include your advertising.  Facebook ads are a good example of this.  They’re not search related but you are paying for them.

These are the basic tools I’ll be talking about in the next few posts.


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