What Is Referral Traffic? (With Definition and Benefits)

Updated June 24, 2022

Making sure a business' website remains active can be an excellent step toward higher revenue and improved marketability. Referral traffic is the number of visits a webpage receives from links that appear on another website. Learning more about what referral traffic is can help you increase the number of users who engage with a website and generate more revenue for a company. In this article, we review what referral traffic is, explain what its benefits are and provide some tips about improving referral traffic.

What is referral traffic?

Referral traffic refers to the number of visitors that a website gains from direct links rather than a search results page. Visitors from referral traffic typically find a website through direct links from another organization's webpages, also called backlinks. When a visitor clicks a backlink to view a company's website, the browser shares their activities with that company's marketing staff.

When a backlink increases a company's referral traffic, it affects where the websites rank on search results for particular keywords. For example, if a user searching for photos of puppies clicks a website from that search results page and finds your webpage from a backlink, then your webpage may be more likely to appear when other users search for photos of puppies in the future. Increased referral traffic can also affect a company's search engine optimization (SEO) or paid advertisement strategies.

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Benefits of referral traffic

There are many benefits to having referral traffic on a website, including:

Improved exposure

The more referral traffic a website gains, the more total visitors it has overall. Improved exposure can lead to more profits and leads from a website's business cycle. Having more exposure from other webpages can also help improve general brand recognition and gain relevance on social media platforms. It may also provide new marketing opportunities, such as collaborations with other websites, which can generate even more referral traffic in the future.

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Alternative audiences

When a website gains referral traffic, it might gain users from unfamiliar groups. For example, consider a company that produces a comic series. This comic usually has a demographic of women between 20 and 30 years old. When a website with more teenage users creates a backlink to that comic's website, its main demographic shifts and the hosting company gains a new audience. This can bring additional exposure, increased social media engagement and more insights into audience preferences.

Developing networks

When one website networks with another by including backlinks, they create opportunities for future collaborations. Networking efforts can include backlinking on social media or product partnerships. External collaborations, like showcasing events or store collaboration efforts, can also help both companies increase referral traffic from mutual backlinks and gain more exposure.

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Better SEO

If a company's website gains more referral traffic, its SEO strategies can become more effective. If enough users follow a backlink, the resulting referral traffic can help develop a website's SEO until it becomes a top result for relevant keywords. As backlinks directly affect SEO results for a website, it's important to only gather referral traffic from relevant sources that support a website's content. If a website gains relevant SEO results, the visitor ratings can naturally grow.

How to generate referral traffic

If you want to learn how to generate referral traffic for your website, consider the following steps:

1. Post in directories

To get referral traffic without connecting with another company, consider posting your websites to directories. Those interested in your website may find your content more easily if you use a common directory relevant to your industry, so any resulting SEO changes can better align with your website's topics. For example, if a veterinarian living in St. Louis posts their website in a local directory, they may receive more visitors from backlinks. As a result, their content may appear on the first search results page for animal-related services in that city.

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2. Create an infographic

Creating an effective infographic can attract long-term referral traffic to your website, as many individuals better understand information through photos and other visual elements. To create an infographic, collect information that supports your website content, such as statistical data. For example, a company offering faster internet services might display an infographic with statistical information on how quickly people click away from a website if their connection is slow. Afterward, be sure to include a backlink on the infographic before sharing it with other websites or directories.

3. Use social media

You can generate more marketing exposure for a website if you host a backlink on a company's social media profile. Popular platforms can help improve your website activity if you post links consistently. Each time an account likes, shares or comments on any post, it creates an opportunity for engagement with other users. As a result, individuals might become interested in a company's content and feel encouraged to click on backlinks to its main website.

4. Maintain forum and blog activity

Commenting on forums or blogs can also help increase clicks from backlinks, bringing more referral traffic to your website. Every time you interact with a forum post or blog, you give any visitors the chance to look at your content. For example, a sporting goods company might comment on a blog article discussing top tennis rackets released in a certain year. As a result, users looking for a new tennis racket might click on their profile and find their main website through a backlink.

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5. Publish your work on blogs and review sites

When interacting with others on blogs or forums, consider asking to publish your own work on these websites, including backlinks. Allowing your content to appear on another blog or review page can help bring referral traffic to a company's website. Partnering with a blog allows you to access its fanbase, especially if it has a subscription system. If you connect with a review website instead, its marketing staff might post an assessment of your content that includes backlinks, increasing referral traffic overall.

Tips for generating referral traffic

If you want some tips for generating more referral traffic on your website, consider some of the following suggestions below:

Learn more about your target audience

Understanding your target audience can help you create effective advertisements to post or host on other websites. Determine their demographic information, including the businesses they frequent online. This step can help you can learn which website may produce more referral traffic from backlinks on an advertisement. When browsing a website that targets the same demographic, you can observe the language and aesthetic appearance of its advertisements to use as inspiration for your own.

Network with others regularly

Networking can help increase referral traffic, as you can find more websites to host backlinks. Consider networking on internet platforms, such as blogs, forums and social media websites, plus offline as well. Talking to others about your website and advertising through conversations can encourage potential partners to research a company's products or services. Consider adding a website link or QR code to your business card to share your website offline more effectively.

Advertise your website

Besides verbal and internet networking, traditional advertising can help you gain referral traffic quickly. When considering an advertising campaign for your website, first determine its demographics. Then, find a website they browse and adopt a similar language so you can appeal to their interests. Consider purchasing an advertisement plan that works best for your current budget, whether it be online advertisements or physical ones like billboards and newspaper ads.

Create original content

When marketing your content across blogs and forums, you can increase a website's referral traffic by creating original content simultaneously. Consider revealing any new projects after a partner company posts any advertisements and backlinks to your website. As these partnerships can help generate audience interest in your content, users may feel encouraged to visit your website and review any new projects, services or products.


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