Using Google Analytics and Website Referrals to Learn More About Your Audience

Chad Egeland
Chad Egeland Social Media Strategist, Social 360

Posted on June 21st 2014

Using Google Analytics and Website Referrals to Learn More About Your Audience

Are you constantly checking your traffic stats in Google Analytics? Looking at which pages receive traffic and how long site visitors remain on the page? Maybe you dig a little deeper and check which landing pages are performing well and maybe even examine the conversion rate for your goals.

While these metrics may give you an indication of how well your site is performing and possibly alert you to any issues that you may need to take care of, there is more you can learn from your website analytics.

Information such as:

  • Which bloggers are linking to your content
  • Which sites are sending traffic to your site
  • Which social networks are sending traffic to the site

You can learn this and more using the referral reports found within the Google Analytics dashboard.

Why Do Referrals Matter?

Why are we even talking about referrals? Do they even matter? All I really want to know is how many people are visiting my site. Sound familiar?

If you’ve ever found yourself saying something similar or have heard someone else repeat that phrase, I’m here to tell you that referrals are important. They provide your site with information you just can’t get from looking at your traffic stats.

Some important data you can learn from referrals include:

  • Which social sites are sending you traffic (This can tell you where your audience may be talking about you)
  • Which page the referral traffic is landing on (Letting you know which content is most popular and most sought after)
  • The location (page) that the referral traffic came from (Which website/blogger is sending you traffic or linking to you)
  • Who may be talking about your content (Bloggers that may be linking to your content or even discussing what you are saying)

How To Find Them?

Numbers are great but they can only tell you part of the story. By making use of more of the reports within your analytics you can begin to see the full story as it relates to how you are doing online.

Referrals are important as they tell you who is visiting your site, from where they came from, what they’re looking at and how they found you.

You can find referral reports by visiting and signing into Google Analytics, navigating to Acquisitions and finally All Referrals.

Choose your date range (day, week, month and even year) and in the reports for the All Referrals you can view where your traffic is coming from, choosing a secondary dimension such as Landing Page can help you determine which pages this traffic is going to.

How You Can Use Them

Now that you know a little bit more about Referrals and where to find them I want to share a few ways with you that this important data can be used to help you engage with those in your community, reach out to bloggers and even determine what is converting.

  • Blogger Outreach
    As you scan through your list of referrals look for individual bloggers that are sending you traffic and investigate their websites. If they are a fit for what you are doing and not some type of spam site reach out to them with a comment or email. Let them know you appreciate the mention f your site and begin forming a relationship with that individual. This can be mutually beneficial to you both. You may earn yourself an ally online, someone who shares your content and your message and you may have also formed a new relationship which itself is highly valuable.
  • Social Traffic Identification
    Do you know which social networks send you the most traffic? Or which pages see the most traffic from which social networks? Using referrals can help you determine this data. If you see Pinterest is sending you a lot of traffic it might be worth spending more time there or if Facebook is lagging far behind it might be time to revamp your strategy.
  • Find Your Audience
    As with the above point, looking through your traffic referrals is a great way to identify a new audience that you may have been unaware even existed. If you see that Pinterest, Google+ or any other network where you currently are not active on is a source of traffic for you, this could indicate that your audience is already talking about you on that platform. You can investigate it further and even begin engaging with them on this platform and even build out a social profile on that platform for your brand.
  • Determine Which Social Traffic Is Most Valuable
    If you have your goals properly set up and configured within Google Analytics you can use referrals as a way to determine which referrals (including social networks) are most valuable to your business. If you include a configured goal (using the drop down menu found in the table under Conversions) you can then identify which referrals convert at the highest rate by looking under the column Sign Up Completions. This can help you determine which social networks are most valuable to your brand and which ones you may wish to spend more time building your presences.
  • Determine The Pages Which Convert The Highest
    Along the same lines as determining which referral traffic is most valuable to your business. You can include a secondary dimension of Landing Page to find which pages happen to convert the highest from the traffic it receives. You may be surprised to learn that a page with the highest amount of traffic actually converts at a lower rate than another page. You can then push that content back onto the social network where it converts to potentially drive even more conversions.

Adding secondary dimensions and changing up goals within Referrals can open up a wealth of information that you can turn to in creating and revising strategies. This information can be used to better serve your community with content created that they are looking for. Play around and experiment with this data and the secondary dimensions to see what else you can learn.

Final Thoughts

While numbers and stats are great for a quick glance to see how you are doing. The real value of your data becomes visible when you dig a little deeper and use the data to find out more about your audience and their wants and needs.

Many people find data and analytics to be intimidating as you are presented this wall of information that can overwhelm a person. Try not to feel intimidated. Instead think of Analytics as a learning experience. You can’t break it, have fun playing and experimenting and seeing what you can learn from it. If you get stuck there’s always a Google search to help you find your way :-).

Over To You

Do you ever look into Google Analytics for more than just traffic numbers?

The post Using Google Analytics And Website Referrals To Learn More About Your Audience appeared first on Social 360.

Chad Egeland

Chad Egeland

Social Media Strategist, Social 360

I am the owner of Social 360, a social media website geared at helping others use social media to grow their brands and increase sales by building relationships with their customers and fans.

You can find me on Twitter at @cegeland, on Google+ and Facebook

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