Use Google Analytics to Look at Your Blog's Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is the traffic you receive that comes from sites other than search engines. You might receive traffic from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon. Or you might receive traffic from other blogs or websites that link to you.

By looking at the places where your traffic comes from (and doesn’t come from), you can make navigation design decisions that help meet your goals. To take a peek at your referral traffic, follow these steps:

  1. Visit your Google Analytics dashboard and log in.

    If you have more than one blog, select the blog you want to look at.

  2. From the left-side menu, choose Traffic Sources→Sources→Referrals.

    This brings up the top ten sites that bring traffic to you. At the bottom of the page, open the Show Rows drop-down menu and choose 50 to get a more complete picture.

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  3. Go one level deeper by clicking the Performance button and choosing Bounces from the right column drop-down menu.

    Now you can more easily spot problem areas in your blog’s navigation design.

You can glean so much from this information! Here are some helpful things you can learn from your data:

  • Top social media sites for referral traffic: For whichever sites bring you the most traffic, make sure you have those corresponding social media sharing buttons in a visible spot on your blog. (That is, the buttons that allow readers to share a blog post or page on a social media network.)

    You may even decide to add a widget to your sidebar or footer that showcases your content on one of those platforms (like how a Facebook widget allows visitors to Like your page without having to go to your actual business page).

  • Areas to encourage navigation deeper into your site: If you click any of the referral sites, you can often glean even more information. For example, view the most popular posts that attracted Twitter users to your site. Or see which pins from Pinterest brought you the most traffic.

    Although not all the referral data is that helpful, you can use this information to determine whether you should add custom messages to posts or add more links to other relevant posts.

  • Opportunities to grow your social media network: If certain pages attract a high percentage of new visitors, they likely came from someone else sharing a blog post of yours. If these visitors are new to your blog, they probably aren’t followers or fans . . . yet. You could add an additional message to these pages to capture them as new followers.

If you’re trying to increase your presence on a social media platform but your efforts aren’t generating much traffic yet, look at your blog design to see ways you can incorporate that platform more (sharing buttons, widgets, and so on).

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