Next time you poke around your Google Analytics account, take a look at the Traffic Sources Overview page, in particular at the pie chart that breaks down your traffic sources. What percentage of traffic comes from referring sources? If you look at the graph below you’ll see that for this particular site, about 20% of their traffic over a six month period came from referring sites including Wired.com, Businessweek.com, blogs.wsj.com, and more. While it’s definitely a smaller percentage than direct and search traffic, you can’t discredit the value of that referral traffic or those referring links!
Why should site owners care about their smallest source of traffic? Here’s what link building expert Eric Ward had to say;
At the end of the day, there are a trillion web sites. There are a billion search phrases., yet there are only ten to twenty search results being fought over. That’s a fools game. The sites that thrive and survive will be the sites that find ways to create link profiles that provide them with traffic other than from Google. When people brag about increasing their rankings at Google, I always ask them what happens if those rankings vanish? For me, the perfect link profile is one that does not rely too heavily on Google, one that doesn’t cause you to have a panic attack if your rank drops from 3rd to 9th.
There is no denying that it’s a Google world and we all live in it. Heck, the SEO industry pretty much only exists because there is a Google! While most sites can’t afford to ignore Google if they want to keep their doors open, Eric raises an interesting point—there is only one #1 spot per keyword and depending on your industry there could be thousands of websites vying for that top spot. If you aren’t in the top ten in Google what other ways are people finding your site?
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