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Online Marketing for Book and Publishing Web Sites:

Step 6, Referrers

© 2001 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

In April I discussed tracking Web site traffic so that we can evaluate the results of our marketing efforts. That column mentioned referrers briefly. This month we'll go into greater depth on referrers.

The goal of online marketing is to generate targeted traffic. We want to attract many visitors who may be interested in whatever our site offers. Tracking our site referrers is a vital part of our traffic generation plan and our evaluation of the results of that plan.

What is a Referrer?

A referrer is any site displaying a link which leads a visitor to our site. A search engine can be a referrer, and a private site can be a referrer. The important statistic is the number of visitors who arrive at our site from each referring site.

What Makes the Difference in Number of Visitors from a Referrer?

Our site will receive more visitors from a high-traffic referring site than from a low-traffic referring site. Also, the way the referring site displays the link to our site affects the number of people being referred from the site to ours. We know that when a search engine displays SPAWN.org in the top three sites in a search on small publisher sites, our site will receive more visitors than if we came up number 684 in that search.

Why Do We Care about which Sites Send Us the Most Traffic?

Having our site listed on another site is a form of advertising, and we always want to measure the results of our advertising so that we can maximize the results. If we see that a search engine is sending us a lot of visitors, we may want to start placing a paid ad on that search engine. In contrast, if we see that a search engine never sends us visitors, we will want to find a way to improve our standing in that search engine. And if we are already paying for a listing on a search engine or specialized site, we want to confirm that we are receiving the number of referred visitors we expect to receive. If the number of visitors is not high enough, we should cancel the ad.

Every month we review the list of referring sites in the logs for our site. We evaluate the efficacy of each referrer and update our marketing plan accordingly.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at virginia@spawn.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com

 

 

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