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Web Statistics for Dummies (part 2: Referrers)

Do you know how to use referrers to increase your traffic? How to increase your conversions? This article is the second in our series on learning how to analyse and understand your web site's statistics. The goal of this series is to help you increase your site's revenue. 
 
Part one was about using your sales statistics to enhance your web business (part one can be found here: www.redcarpetweb.com/promotion/0509.html#feature). Part two is about using your referrer statistics to increase traffic, ranking, and conversions. 
 
Part 2: Referrers
 
A referrer is a website that directly sends you traffic. The bulk of your traffic is referred by search engines, but other sites send you traffic as well. These referring sites will help you increase your position in search engines because by linking to you, they are essentially "voting" for your site. The search engines take these "votes", and count them towards how popular your site is. The more popular the site, the higher the site will rank on a search. Of course it is not that simple; content actually plays a more important role, but everything should be taken into consideration when fighting for your hard-earned placement within the search engines. 
 
Referring domains
 
So to get back to our main point: How can you use referring sites to help you make more money? Simple. By looking at your statistics, and finding out who is linking to you, you can see trends or patterns and capitalize on your site's strengths. For example, if you sell real estate, who is linking to you? Local businesses? Government sites? Other real estate sites? Is it only sites you have swapped links with or are there a pleasant amount of unexpected sites linking to you as well? 
 
If you do not have many sites linking to you, than maybe you should consider posting more useful information on your site. Try to make your site useful for anyone who wants to know about your industry (not just potential customers) by writing new informational pages. This will do two things: 
 
1. Your potential customers can find out about your industry without leaving your site, thus increasing your site's professionalism and usefulness. 
 
2. Other sites in your industry will start seeing your site as a useful resource to link to. You will become a leader in sharing information about the industry online. 
 
This can only lead to more links, more traffic, and ultimately more people talking about your site. 
 
Exchanging links is a good idea too, but it should only be done if the site is appropriate to link to. Do not link to sites that are unprofessional, or sites that are just a gathering of links (link farms); it will make your site lose its authority. 
 
Finally, there are directories. Directories like www.dmoz.org will link to you if you have good useful content on your site. Even if people do not actually search for your site on those directories the links from them tend to propagate your site throughout the web. Take your time and read the directory's instructions carefully before submitting. If you submit to them haphazardly, they will simply ignore you. 
 
Search Engine Referrers
 
Looking at your site's statistics, you can find out which search engines are sending you the most traffic. Usually the search engines that show up in statistics are Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask Jeeves. Find out with search engine sends you the most traffic, then take a look at what keyphrases the surfers are using to find you. These keyphrases will tell you what your clients are looking for. For example, here at Red Carpet Web Promotion, we get a lot of searches for carpets. Obviously we do not want or need this traffic, but due to our name it cannot be avoided. For us, it is important to keep track of this "carpet" traffic because it skews our numbers. If traffic doubles one month, is that because our position for "carpets" went up, or is it because our position for "web promotion" went up? It is important for us to figure this out, because if our position for "web promotion" went up but we did not get more sales, than we would need to update our web site to convert these potential clients into paying customers. 
 
By verifying the keyphrases that people are finding you with, you will better understand why people are coming to your site. If you are a plumber and most people find you with the keyphrase "sump pumps", you'd do best to make sure your site, or the section of your site they are arriving at, offers them sump pumps! Likewise, if they are coming from a site that is referring you as a great deep well repair man, than make sure that that section of your site promotes your deep well repairing skills. 
 
Conclusion
 
Look at your stats regularly, see where your traffic is coming from, and make sure your site caters to these people. If they are coming looking for sump pumps and you do not sell sump pumps, either start selling them, or sell something of value to these people. If you do offer the product that these people are looking for, but they are not buying, than figure out why. Is it your price? Is the shopping cart too complicated? Do people not see the "Buy a Sump Pump Here" link? Figure it out and fix it fast, because the Internet is so fickle that your "sump pump" traffic might be gone next week, and you would have missed out on the easy jackpot. 
 
About the Author:
Shawn Campbell is an enthusiastic player in the ecommerce marketplace, and co-founded Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc. (http://www.redcarpetweb.com) He has been researching and developing marketing strategies to achieve more prominent listings in search engine results since 1998. Shawn is one of the earliest pioneers in the search engine optimization field.

(part 1: Sales)

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