A couple of weeks ago, one of my email subscribers asked me an interesting question. According to Google Analytics, her top 10 traffic sources to her website included both Google / organic and Google / referral. What, she wanted to know, was the difference?
We both had a good idea of what organic Google traffic was: it was is a visitor who found her website in the Google search results and clicked on it. But we were stumped on what Google referral traffic might be, since she wasn’t running any Google Adwords.
I Googled It
So, like any child of the 21st century, I Googled “Google referral traffic.” (Is that meta or what?) Half a dozen blog posts later, I was still none the wiser.
Each article clearly defined Google organic traffic, but when they were non-descriptive when it came time to explain Google referral traffic. One post even tried to liken Google referral traffic to the Hubspot network, which might have been useful to someone familiar with Hubspot, but which was not at all enlightening for me.
Finally, I put the question to Daryl Welch, my mentor at Affordable Web Technology, Inc., and a Google Adwords specialist.
In a nutshell, Google referral traffic is traffic from other parts of Google that are not its search engine. For example, if someone clicked on your website from the marker on the Google map, that would be counted as a Google referral.
Or, if an image from your website showed up in Google images, and someone clicked on it and it brought them to your website, that would also be counted as a Google referral. (As an aside, YouTube and Google+ are considered separate traffic sources when looking at your website traffic source statistics.)
In a nutshell, then, Google organic traffic is any website visitor who finds your website in a Google search results page and clicks on it.
Google referral traffic is any other way that visitors can use Google to find your website, without going through the search engine, Google+, or YouTube.
As it turns out, that wasn’t so hard to define after all.
Coming Next Week
Stay tuned for next Thursday, when I’ll be answering another reader Q & A right here on this blog!
P.S. If you have a question about online marketing (websites, email lists, Facebook, Twitter, or social media), shoot me an email – I’d love to hear from you!
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