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What is Referral Website Traffic?

Wondering what referral website traffic is?

The world of digital marketing is rife with jargon and technical terms, but this one is pretty easy.

In this guide, you’ll learn exactly what referral traffic is and how to track it for your website.

Let’s start with the basics.

What exactly is website traffic?

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, traffic basically means how many people looked at your website. It isn’t a metric, so it’s not referring to the number of views or visitors specifically. Rather, it’s a reference to the amount of activity on your website.

Now let’s talk about referrers.

What is a referrer?

When someone on another website clicks on a link that takes them to your site, that qualifies as a referral, and the website they came from is the referrer.

For instance, if someone clicks on a link on Facebook and it takes them to your website, then Facebook is the referrer. If someone visits your site by clicking on a search result in Google, then Google is the referrer.

Most of your site’s traffic is going to come from referrers. When a visitor reaches your site by typing the URL into the browser address bar, this is called “direct” traffic since there is no referrer..

What is referral website traffic?

Now that you know what website traffic is and what referrers are, we can put together a good definition for referral traffic.

Referral website traffic is a measure of visitors that reached your site by clicking a link on another website. Your referral traffic includes all visits from search engines, social sites, and other websites combined.

The question you probably have now is how to find your own website’s referral traffic, and that’s easy to do with the right tool.

How to track your site’s referral traffic

To see your referral traffic, you’ll need to install web analytics on your website.

Add analytics to your site

If you’re using WordPress, this can be done easily with the Independent Analytics plugin.

Independent Analytics plugin page

We developed this plugin as a simpler alternative to Google Analytics. It installs in seconds, is GDPR-friendly, and doesn’t require any technical expertise.

Once installed on your site, it will begin tracking visitors right away, and data will start showing up in the dashboard.

Independent Analytics dashboard in WordPress admin
The analytics reports are available inside the WP admin dashboard

If you’d prefer not to use a WordPress plugin, you can consider a third-party app like Google Analytics or Clicky.

Where to find your referral traffic

Regardless of which analytics tool you choose, there will be a report showcasing your referrers.

In Independent Analytics, this data is readily available in the Referrers menu.

Referrers menu item

In this report, you’ll find all the sites that have sent you visitors, sorted by those that have referred the most visitors.

Referrers table example

This lets you view all the traffic sources for your website. You can see which ones are sending the most visitors and discover sites you haven’t even heard of before.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on which referrers are growing/shrinking the most. The Visitors Growth column makes it easy to monitor these trends.

Visitors growth column

One last thing you’ll want to try is filtering the referrers by type. For instance, you can filter the data to show only Social referrers, allowing you to compare traffic between social networks.

Social referrers

With these tools, it’s easy to extract valuable insights about your website’s traffic sources and get new ideas for traffic growth.

Regardless of which analytics plugin or tool you choose, studying your referrers will be an awesome way to learn more about your website.

Learn more about your website

Tracking your referral traffic is essential if you want to understand where your visitors are coming from.

If you aren’t tracking your site’s referrers yet, try our free analytics WordPress plugin:

Get started with Independent Analytics

Learn more Click to download

Once you get an idea of where your visitors are coming from, you’ll find it much easier to focus your marketing efforts on the tactics that are working best.

Thanks for checking out this guide on what referral traffic is, and feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section below.

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