User Channel Referrals are those users that find your website without searching for it on search engines. These can be users that clicked on a link in a forum, on another website or in a blog. All of the referral traffic to your website comes from various external backlinks that lead to your URL, which allows you to see where the users on your website are originating from.

Reasons to track User Channel Referrals

Referral traffic is an important traffic source for your website. By analyzing your referral traffic, you can understand from which domains the traffic comes from and how users interacted with your website. Usually, referral traffic is very relevant to your business, since these are visitors that heard about you in some form (for example through an article or through clicking a referral link on a forum or social media). In other words, users that are coming from referral traffic have a high potential to be exactly your target audience.

Referral traffic does not just send you valuable potential customers but also improves your SEO rankings. Backlinks from domains with high domain authorities that are relevant to your business can improve your Domain authority as well. Moreover, good referral links will also help you to rank higher on Google organic search.

Common variations of User Channel Referrals

Referring traffic and Referral traffic: Both terms are used and mean the same. 

Nevertheless, below you can find more user channel sources that are used in Google Analytics.

NameDescriptionPlatform
User Channel SocialThis is a traffic that is coming from social media,  any link that is clicked via social media that leads to your website.Google 
Analytics
User Channel AffiliatesThis traffic comes from third-party websites that lead to your website via various paid activities.Google 
Analytics
User Channel DirectThis is traffic that comes directly to your website when a user types in your website URL.Google 
Analytics
User Channel DisplayThis is traffic that comes from display ads (such as banners).Google 
Analytics
User Channel EmailThis is traffic that comes from Emails.Google 
Analytics
User Channel Organic SearchThis is traffic that comes from search engines organic results.Google 
Analytics
User Channel Other AdvertisingThis is traffic that sources from advertisements, but cannot be classified into a specific commonly used ad category.Google 
Analytics
User Channel Paid SearchThis is traffic that comes from all of the paid activities from search engines.Google 
Analytics

How can Referral Traffic or User Channel Referrals help you to become more data-driven?

Analysis of your referral traffic can open up new potential audiences for your business and widen up your identified user personas.

Nevertheless, it is important to evaluate your referral traffic and see if the backlinks are relevant to the linked site and that it offers valuable information for the users. 

Behaviour and engagement analysis of referral traffic on your website is very important and might differ a lot from the users that come from other traffic sources such as for example organic or paid. 

The following tips will help you to analyse the behaviour of Referral Traffic on your website:

  • Inspect the landing pages that brought the most of the referral traffic. 
  • Analyse how the users interacted with the landing page; depending on your goals: Bounce-rate, time-on-site, engagements such as clicks, page views, conversions such as google goals (for example forms filled) 
  • Analyse and compare the referral traffics; Which referrals bring the most traffic and which the least and what referral converts.
  • Analyse and inspect the landing pages where the referral links were placed. What type of website brought the best referral traffic and what websites brought the worst referral traffic. 
  • Try to contact referring domain administrators for optimizations of those backlinks and content if needed.

Additional information about User Channel Referrals

  1. Tool to find your backlinks from ahref
  2. Find out how to increase your referral traffic
  3. Read more about why referral traffic is important
  4. Read about how you can get leads via referral traffic

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