referral traffic

There are a lot of ways to encourage people to visit your website. You can use search engines, paid ads, and of course, referrals. However, all these methods require you to put in some work if you want to see success, and that’s particularly true when it comes to referral traffic.

Aside from publishing quality content, there are a lot of ways you can drive more traffic from other places around the web. In most cases, these involve doing a little outreach, such as by looking for guest posting opportunities. However, the rewards are well worth the effort involved.

In this article, we’ll briefly talk about what referral traffic is in case you’re not familiar with the term. Then we’ll teach you four ways to bring in as much of it as possible. Let’s get to work!

Here’s what we mean by referral traffic

In a nutshell, referral traffic is the visitors who reach your website without going through a search engine (or typing in your URL directly). Essentially, they came from a link somewhere else, which could be another website, social media, email, etc. The main takeaway here is that referrals can be just as important as organic traffic, which is why you should care about encouraging them.

Your guide to bringing in more referral traffic (4 key techniques)

Like off-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO), getting more referral traffic is all about outreach. Of course, if you want other sites to link to yours, you’ll first need to focus on creating the best content you can. After that, the following four techniques should help you drive as much referral traffic as possible.

1. Look for guest posting opportunities

If you take a look at your favorite blogs, you’ll probably notice that a lot of them feature guest writers from time to time. Guest posting is a time-honored practice, where you strike a deal to publish your original content on someone else’s site.

In some cases, guest posters get paid for their work. Others do it to build up their portfolios, or just to get the opportunity to link back to their websites. There’s usually a tacit agreement with guest posts that you can link to your own website or social media accounts, as long as you don’t abuse that privilege.

This makes guest posts an excellent way to encourage referral traffic, as you’ll be driving visitors from other key sites back to your own content. Plus, guest posting also enables you to make a name for yourself within your niche.

How to find guest post opportunities

The best way to find guest posting opportunities is to check out the blogs you already follow. If they accept submissions, they’ll often have a dedicated “Write for Us” page.

You can also simply go through a search engine, where it’s easy to find lists of sites that accept guest post submissions:

A search for blogs that accept guest post submissions.

Once you’ve identified at least a few sites that permit guest posts, you can also check out which writers are the most prolific there. A quick reverse-image search for their headshots can often reveal other blogs where they’ve posted, which may also accept guest submissions:

Performing an image reverse search on an author's avatar.

Guest posting can be a powerful tool. Just remember that you also need to keep your own blog updated, so don’t try to take on too many extra articles at once!

2. Comment on blog posts and sites within your niche

One of the hallmarks of popular blogs is that they’ll get lots of comments on most of their posts. Once you get to that point, you’ll know you’ve made it too. However, you can also use those blogs’ popularity to your advantage while you’re still growing yours.

If you like to look through blog comments, you’ve probably seen many that look like this:

An example of a spam comment.

As you might imagine, these kinds of comments are meant to piggyback on the original post’s popularity to get some referral traffic.

The method from the screenshot isn’t usually the best approach because a lot of sites treat these comments as spam. So unless your link is super relevant, don’t go for the direct link.

A better way is to add your link to your name, which WordPress lets you do by default. A common strategy is to comment as your blog name. Or, for a more personal touch, you can include both your real name and your blog name like this:

John – ThemeIsle

You’ll see this approach a lot:

Comment for referral traffic

3. Ask influencers to link to your blog posts

Within almost every niche, there are a few people at the top who get a lot of attention because of their authority on the subject.

With some luck and hard work, you can also make it to the top of your niche. However, while you’re working on that, getting a shoutout from someone who is already well-established can be a significant boon to your website. The problem is that there’s minimal motivation for those established influencers to share content from up-and-coming websites.

This means that you’ll need to build a ‘relationship’ first, which you can do in several ways:

  • Submit guest posts to the influencer’s website often.
  • Share their content with your own followers via social media or your website.
  • Leave insightful comments on their posts (only when you have something to contribute to the conversation).

To put it another way, your goal should be to get on the influencer’s radar. Some people recommend asking influencers directly to share your content. However, that’s usually not as successful unless your website is already well established. After all, the more high profile someone is within your niche, the more likely it is that they receive dozens of such requests weekly (or even daily).

As for how to identify influencers within your niche, it’s all about keeping up with your competitors. Find out what the most popular sites and blogs are in your field, and keep track of who publishes great content often. Usually, these people will also have a large social media following, so they’re easy to identify.

4. Be active on social media platforms

If you want people to share your content on social media, it needs to be engaging, and you need to be active on the platforms you want to target. For most blogs, Facebook and Twitter are the obvious choices. Instagram can be important too, especially if your content is more visually-oriented.

ThemeIsle Twitter

Once you know what social media platforms your followers use, you’ll want to figure out when the best time is to share your content there. For example, if you post content at 1pm on Facebook, it’s more likely to get shares, but clicks seem to max out around 3pm.

Knowing when to share your content is only half the battle, however. For it to do well, you’ll want to use featured images that catch the viewer’s attention, and craft engaging headlines. If you can get the hang of these three vectors (timing, visual appeal, and strong titles), your content is likely to do well on social media.

Finally, remember to take some time to answer any questions your audience might have on social media platforms (something you should also be doing on your own site). That way, you’ll build a rapport with your followers, and it won’t seem like you’re just using social media to get more referral traffic.

To learn more, check out our post on building a social media strategy.


A lot of people think that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the only thing they have to worry about when it comes to getting more traffic. However, referral traffic can be just as important for driving people to your site. The more work you do to bring in referral traffic, the more your name will grow within your niche, so it’s a win-win situation.

To recap, here are four simple ways to maximize your referral traffic:

  1. Look for guest posting opportunities.
  2. Comment on blog posts and sites within your niche.
  3. Ask influencers to link to your blog posts.
  4. Be active on social media platforms.

Do you have any questions about how to get more referral traffic for your website? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

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