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The Basics of Referral Traffic You Need to Know

Ever wondered what referral traffic is? Have you noticed your’s growing or shrinking? Look no further. Here you’ll find the basics of referral traffic. What is it? What is good referral traffic? How do I get more? You’ll find answers to these questions and more here.

What is Referral Traffic?

Referral traffic is traffic that Google Analytics reports as visitors who have reached your site via outside of Google’s search engine. Most visitors probably find your site via Google organic or direct, i.e., users searching for terms your site shows up for in Google or typing in your site’s URL in the address bar.

While referral traffic can vary greatly, a good example of a commonly seen referral is Facebook. If you see Facebook in your referral traffic, it means users have reached your site either from your business’s Facebook page or other means, such as a link to your site someone has posted on Facebook.

How Do I View Referral Traffic?

Those of you familiar with Google Analytics will already know this. But if you are unfamiliar, referral traffic can be viewed in Google Analytics under the Acquisitions tab and under the All Traffic Tab.

Analytics Referral Tab


Is all Referral Traffic Good?

While referral traffic can include spam, this usually isn’t anything to worry about. In most cases, referral traffic is always good. In fact, you can use stats from Analytics to determine which referral you’re benefiting the most from. Typically, referral traffic with low bounce rates and higher pages per session means quality traffic. These are users who land on your site and stay. This is a good sign of a solid referral source.

How is Referral Traffic Actually Tracked?

Referral traffic data is passed through internet browsers using the HTTP referrer. This identifies where a user came from, as well as where they currently are. When a user arrives at your site, their browser sends a request to your website’s server. In this request is a field with data about the last place that user visited. This data is what Google reports to you in Analytics.


Referral traffic can be a great source of traffic to your site. The best way to increase referrals is to build credible links to your site and create good content worth having others linking to. If you can accomplish this, you’ll see your referral traffic grow and with it your site’s overall traffic as well.



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