5 Sources of Referred Web Traffic Your Startup Should Prioritize

A visitor who gets referred to your website arrives as a pre-qualified lead. Here are five ways to boost the number of referrals you get.

Written by Vikas Agrawal
Published on Oct. 20, 2021
5 Sources of Referred Web Traffic Your Startup Should Prioritize
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Most founders know the importance of growing traffic to their websites. Not all traffic is created equal, however — people who come from some sources are more likely to subscribe, buy, or otherwise convert than others. 

Referral traffic is one such type of lucrative channel. This term refers to visitors that arrive on your site from another source. Focusing on this kind of traffic is useful because the leads that referrals generate are potentially more qualified than other sources. After all, referred visitors have to deliberately navigate away from whatever they’re doing on another domain to arrive at yours. 

Savvy marketers know that finding powerful referral traffic sources, at scale, can make or break an early stage business. Certain sources are more likely to provide higher qualified referred traffic in more volume than others, however, so it makes sense to narrow your focus to these as much as possible. 

5 Sources of Referred Web Traffic Your Startup Should Prioritize

  1. Guest Blogging
  2. Shareable Infographics
  3. Online Communities
  4. Social Media
  5. Press Releases

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1. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging — the practice of writing blog posts for other sites — remains a powerful and effective source of referral traffic. Guest blogging is excellent for several reasons:

  • You can publish on another site and leverage its traffic. 

  • It gives you a platform to establish yourself as an authority in your field. 

  • It enables new brands to garner much wider exposure than they might otherwise be able to do initially.

The idea behind this, of course, is that the traffic garnered on the guest sites will ultimately click back to your site. And often, they will. That’s why guest posting is a proven strategy. The challenge is getting your work published on the right sites. 

The first step toward getting your work published is building connections with the owners and editors of sites you’d like to be featured on. There are two basic ways to go about this. The first is cold pitching, where you reach out directly with no warning or prior relationship. Alternatively, you can try warm pitching, where you take time to network with editors and build a relationship before pitching them an idea. 

In either case, the key is to ensure you always frame your pitch to make clear what the publishing site will get out of the arrangement. You may want to highlight your ability to bring them extra traffic, expert content or exposure to your personal network. Focus on providing value to everyone you pitch to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. 


2. Shareable Infographics

Infographics are extremely effective sources of referral traffic, primarily because they tend to get linked to heavily. Other brands will share and link to infographics in their own content, driving tons of visitors to your site.

That’s why infographics are among the fastest-growing assets in digital marketing. They’ve seen a nearly 70 percent increase in use over the last few years. This popularity is due largely to their shareability. They’re also easier to digest on mobile than long-form articles because of their visual nature. 

Of course, creating infographics of your own that convey compelling concepts requires a lot of work and research, so not every brand will have the resources to pull this off early on. But you should still aim to get there as soon as possible to take advantage of the authority that original research confers on you and your business.


3. Online Communities

A well-placed comment on the right forum or social post can lead to a tremendous amount of traffic. That brings us to the next suggestion: Get out and engage with the communities where your customers spend time. This could be other blogs, online forums, Facebook groups or Reddit, among many others.

This participation provides a simple opportunity to get your brand name out there and bring value to the community at the same time. The trick is to be subtle about your brand. Rather than shouting out your company and plastering links around the forums, aim to simply provide value. You can then simply stick a link to your company’s site in your profile or forum bio to let folks know where to find you. 

Eventually, as you help answer questions and interact with the community, people will click the link and visit your site, slowly building referral traffic. 

For example, if your company provides SEO services for small businesses, you might hang around a forum where new business owners ask for website or marketing advice. When a question pops up, chime in and provide an expert answer. You’ll eventually build a name for yourself, and clickthroughs will follow. 


4. Social Media

Similarly, social media remains an excellent source of referral traffic. As with any of these methods, there are no guarantees here, though. Activating social media requires a dedicated effort, and the focus has to be on providing value to your growing audience. Still, despite the challenge, the rewards of this medium can be well worth the effort. 

Reliability and consistency tend to be the keys to social media marketing. Aim to post at least one valuable thing, however small, every day. Timing is also important, although specifics vary by industry and channel. Figure out what cadence works best for your specific field and customers. As you build followers, make sure to keep taking time to engage regularly. Share posts, respond to comments and participate in discussions. 

Finally, make sure you choose the right platforms. Facebook still tends to bring the most referral traffic, followed by YouTube and then Instagram. 


5. Press Releases

Finally, press releases can be outstanding traffic drivers if done right and sent to the right channels. Choose these based on their audience’s overlap with your customer base. To use the SEO agency example from before, you might target small business news outlets to publish your press releases because those will reach the most relevant audience. 

Getting your release published is much the same as getting a guest blogging spot. Focus on the pitch: Offer a strong and compelling subject line in your outreach communications, and time the pitch properly to maximize your chances of getting through. 

Always ensure that you offer value to the publication: How do they benefit from publishing your news? Lastly, make sure to follow up on your pitches. Editors frequently get inundated with pitch requests, and it’s easy for single emails or messages to get buried in a crowded inbox.

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Referral Traffic Is the Way Forward

As we move into 2022, startups should aim to finalize their marketing plans for the year. Those plans should certainly include building website traffic, and referral traffic in particular, as it tends to be highly qualified. 

As you build out your plan, focus on these five sources of referral traffic to maximize your spending and drive key results.

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