Social Media

Learning from your referrers

We all know web analytics can provide a lot of data about your website and its visitors. It can tell you how many visitors came to your site within the last month, your source conversion rate and even a breakdown of your search engine traffic. Out of all the options provided by web analytic solutions, my favorite feature is the referrer tracking because of all the valuable information it can provide.
* You can see who links to you by doing a backward link check in Google, Yahoo or even Technorati, but many of the links are not picked up by these search engines. Referrer information helps complete the picture on the inbound links to your website. Among other things, this information can help you join in on the conversation quicker.
* The growth of a website can be measured in many different ways, including unique visitors and pageviews. One month you might have had 1 large site linking to you that drove 10,000 visitors and the next month you might have had 100 small sites that linked to you and drove 5000 visitors. Some people may view this as a decline in growth, but I actually see this as an increase in growth because more people know about your site and feel it is worth linking to.
* In some cases, industry related sites link to you and referrers can provide a rough idea on how popular theses sites are. Just because site A has an Alexa ranking of 1000 and site B has an Alexa ranking of 5000 does not mean that site A will drive more traffic to you.
* Whether your website is a blog, ecommerce site or a web application, conversion is going to be important to you. For a blog your conversion may be increasing your subscriber rate, number of clicks on ads or even the amount of people that signup for email updates. For an ecommerce site you may want to sell more products and as a web application your goal is probably to get more signups. If you are using a fairly robust analytics package like [Google Analytics](http://www.google.com/analytics) and have conversion tracking setup, by drilling through your referrers you can find out which sources convert best. Your web application might have been on the (http://www.digg.com) and received 7000 visitors and 1000 signups of your free plan. At the same time you might have been profiled by [TechCrunch](http://www.techcrunch.com) and received 5000 visitors and 200 signups of your paid plan. In this case you might want to try and figure out how you can get on TechCrunch again or possibly advertise on TechCrunch.
If you use any sort of web analytics solution, take a closer look at your referrers. Just do not give that area a quick glance, but actually dig into the information and see what you can learn to help improve your website.

 Learning from your referrers
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.

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