Outreach vs Paid Search: What Use is Referral Traffic to PPC?

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We’ve all read plenty of articles regarding the age-old debate of paid vs organic/direct/referral traffic; but why should these channels be at war? The truth is they shouldn’t.

When your website receives referral traffic, the end game is to increase domain authority and generate more leads, increase sales and achieve other goals you may be tracking in Google Analytics. However, there is another string to the bow of inbound links – and your PPC campaign is poised to reap the rewards.

So, are you using referral data to improve your PPC strategy?

How to use referral traffic to improve PPC performance

When it comes to reviewing the quantity and quality of referral sources, the bigger the list, the better!

Firstly, check your number of sessions over a 3, 6 or 12 month period. The number of sessions depends on the readership of your referral sites (is it high or low?), seasonality (is the link topical to current trends and therefore more likely to be found?) and your outreach efforts (are you actively building relationships or waiting for links to build themselves?).

Secondly, do referral sources with high sessions also show a high number of goal completions or a high conversion rate?



If yes, we can take this data and capitalise on it… all by applying what Google Analytics shows us to the Display Planner in AdWords.

Seven steps to Display campaign heaven:

1. Pick a referral domain from Analytics

mumsnet-referral2. In AdWords, open the Display Planner (tools > display planner)

3. Enter domain [i.e. mumsnet.com]

4. If the domain appears in the Display Planner, you can advertise on this website

(If the domain does not appear in Display Planner, select another referral source from Google Analytics.)

5. Analyse CPC, and cookies/impressions per week

mumsnet-display-planner6. Add this placement (domain) to a separate Display campaign within AdWords

By showing display ads on converting referral sites, you will get your ads seen by an appropriate target audience*.

*if they have converted by a referral link, this implies the source is visited by your target market and visitors who are likely to convert

7. Repeat this process until you have exhausted your referral list in Analytics


You can use this referral data to run a smarter, more targeted display campaign; driving cost-effective and qualified Display traffic to your site to increase conversions!


For more handy tips on making your organic, direct and referral traffic assist your PPC campaigns, get in touch or sign up to our webinars.



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