Why Referral Traffic is More Important Than Visitors

Just this month, Pinterest beat out Twitter and StumbleUpon in generating referral traffic. According to Shareoholic, the visual curation platform climbed from 0.85% in January to 1.19% in June, an increase of 0.34%. This is impressive considering how both Twitter and StumbleUpon, which are both considerably more established are based on the concept of referrals: to direct visitors elsewhere.

Referral traffic has always been a factor in a brand’s online success. As marketing consultant Mark Evans points out, generating referral traffic is more important than the number of visitors you receive. This is because visitors count as individual readers while referrals draw several readers to your site through linkbacks from blogs, articles, social media networks, etc.

With the Penguin update, the definition for referral traffic has become refined. Google believes in real, relevant content and rewarding sites with valuable information by boosting their SEO. To determine the worth of a site, Google depends on conscious individuals to rate the content through comments, referrals and involvement. Since referral traffic can be falsified (i.e. link farms), social sharing is now very important (because it is harder to fake).

I repeat: social sharing is important.

After all, readers are more trusting of other readers’ recommendations, just as friends are more partial to their friends’ advice over strangers’. Google’s update now places more emphasis on social media likes, shares, pins, tweets and 1+ than backlinks, which is the traditional method for referrals.

For many platforms, such as Wordpress, social sharing buttons are prominent and customizable. At Atomic Reach, social sharing and community building are the basis for our platform. Each post on a Tribe’s feed includes buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and more. Our Engagement Bar is also lined with buttons for easy and accessible sharing.

We also have several apps that allow Tribes to be shared on different platforms. Our Facebook Page Tab displays a Tribe’s feed on a separate tab, and includes like buttons and an easy method to push a contributor’s post onto your Wall. Our Wordpress Viewer Plugin and our Orb Widget places the Tribe’s feed onto your blog for all your readers to see, either as a separate page (Wordpress Viewer) or a sidebar (Orb and Wordpress Viewer).

As any marketer will tell you: content is important. The content on your site determines your SEO, and therefore your reach and readership. Referral traffic and social sharing allows your brand to reach audiences not usually obtained from organic traffic (i.e. search engines). This means niche markets and target audiences. With referral traffic being measured more heavily than visitors, be sure to provide content worth sharing.

Here's a video on the Five Common SEO Mistakes (and Six Good Ideas):


Tags: Content Marketing, google+, Penguin Update, Referral, Social Media, Social Sharing, traffic