One of the most common ways to measure the success (or lack thereof) of an SEO program is to track the growth of organic visitors that came to the site using non-branded keywords. These are the visitors that found your website in the SERPs that weren’t looking to do business with you specifically. For instance, someone might find DailySEOTip.com by searching for something like “SEO tips.” The more visitors that find DailySEOTip.com through non-branded searches like “SEO tips” and its long tail variations the better the site’s SEO program is doing overall. But organic traffic isn’t the only way to tell if your SEO campaign is performing well. You should also take a look at the Referral Traffic data in your Google Analytics account, which can give you an idea of how well your link building activities do at driving targeted visitors through to your website.
In my opinion, the best kind of links to build with your white hat link building campaign are the ones that not only boost the search engine trust and SEO value of your website, but also that ones that send a few targeted visitors your way every month. You might scoff at two or three extra visitors (after all, that’s not about to break any SEO records) but think of all the links you’ve built and earned over the years with your link building and content marketing efforts. It could easily be hundreds, if not thousands of quality links and, provided they come from the right kind of site, if each referral link only sent one targeted visitor each month that’s hundreds or even thousands of extra unique visitors coming to your site. Stretch that out over 6-12 months and suddenly it’s not just 2-3 visitors from one link; it’s 2-3 thousand visitors from hundreds of links. When you add that final number to the total organic visitors coming to your site suddenly your SEO campaign is looking a lot more powerful.
For instance, when my interview with Eric Ward went live he graciously posted it to his website for several weeks. That one referral link in the side bar of his website sent hundreds of his loyal readers over to the interview on my site. For many of those readers it was the first time they’d ever heard of Brick Marketing and many of them signed up for my company newsletter, started following me on Twitter and so forth. Did I get any new business from that one link? Not this time (although the right link on the right site can definitely land you new clients!) but it introduced me and my company’s brand to a whole new network of potential clients and go the ball rolling by forging that initial touch point.
Another example – several months ago I was running a quick audit on my site’s back link profile and noticed a brand new link from a New York Times blog post. That was a referral link I hadn’t set out to get with my link building, but one that I had earned for my site with years of content marketing and social media promotion under my belt. Powerful referral links can come from any site at anytime even if you aren’t actively pursuing them and these natural links are a huge boon to any link profile. Not only is it coming from a highly trusted source it’s also coming from a highly trafficked source, and although it’s not giving me hundreds of visitors a day I’m more than happy with the handful of visitors it drives each month. That plus the link juice of a link from the New York Times is more than enough to keep me happy!
Referral link reports in Google Analytics also include the traffic that comes from your social profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more. It’s always a good idea to see what social network seems to get the best responses so you can fine tune your social media marketing program and focus more of your efforts on that particular site.
As crazy as it sounds coming from an SEO professional, you want to go about your link building almost as if Google didn’t exist. Still abide by their Webmaster Guidelines of course, but imagine what would happen if Google vanished tomorrow – how would potential customers find your site? Every referral link you build has the potential to deliver targeted traffic right to your doorstep. The next time you are in your Google Analytics account take a look at the Referrals section of the Sources tab. You might be surprised at what sources outside of Google is sending targeted traffic your way!
About the Author: Nick Stamoulis is the President of Boston SEO services company Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com). With over 13 years of industry experience Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.
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