Referral traffic is visits to your website that come from sites other than the major search engines.
This happens primarily when your website is linked to by another site; allowing visitors from that page to follow the link to yours.
Of course, this happens naturally if you’re an authority in your field, have good content, provide a great product or service and your website offers value to users in some way. But there are also ways of ‘helping the process along’.
Looking for ways to increase your referral traffic can be a great way to boost traffic and potential leads (plus the leads from referral traffic do tend to be more qualified), but if you get it wrong it’s a disaster for SEO. In this post we discuss 6 popular methods of boosting referral traffic and what you need to watch out for if you choose to pursue them.
Submitting your website to online directories is an easy way to get referral traffic, but you really do need to proceed with caution here. While good quality directories are good for referral traffic, the spammy ones put you at risk.
Do your research before you begin: avoid all open (free-for-all) directories and only submit to those that are of high quality and are human edited. A good rule of thumb is that if you can publish on the directory without having to go through any kind of approval process you shouldn’t be doing it.
You’d also do well to do focus on the ones that are most relevant to your field, are local specific and are of the highest authority.
Publishing guest posts or writing articles for an authoritative resource is a great way to increase your brand awareness and generate referral traffic. However, you do need to ensure that you’re guest posting within Google’s webmaster guidelines and that you’re being selective about the websites that publish your work.
Guest posting on low quality sites can hurt organic so you really only want to go for the crème de la crème. If you don’t consider it a bit of an honour to be publishing on their website then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. You also need avoid being overly self-promotional in your post and don’t link from within the body copy unless it’s completely natural.
That being said, if you can get featured on a well-known and authoritative website then you’ll definitely benefit from the referral traffic (and the link), so go for it!
If you offer a product or service that can be reviewed it’s helpful to be featured on a good quality review site. However, you need to avoid any low-quality sites and those that appear spammy or unedited. Once again, human-edited is best and you really want to go for quality over quantity.
If the review website option appeals to you, research to see if there are any authoritative review websites that could feature your business and then submit yourself for review, or ask a happy customer to submit a review for you.
Online forums are a great source of potential traffic and leads, but you need to avoid self promotion at all costs.
Ideally, referral traffic should happen naturally because you’re offering such insightful comments and great advice that people want to find out more about you.
When it comes to industry forums it’s best to stick to the well-known and authoritative ones. If you aren’t already aware of them, a quick Google search should give you a good idea of the best forums in your industry.
Publishing on social media is probably the safest way to increase referral traffic without incurring penalties. It’s also a very effective way to go about it, as every time you publish a piece of content on social media you are creating an opportunity to drive referral traffic to your website.
Being overly-promotional or too dogged about it will irritate your followers, but it won’t hurt your SEO, however it’s obviously best avoided if you want to encourage others to share your posts and links.
Increasing your referral traffic is definitely not a bad idea, as long as you do it carefully. As long as you’re not pushing any boundaries and you heed these warnings you should be absolutely A-ok.