The Value of Various Website Referrers

To me, it’s interesting to look at how traffic from different sources behaves on The Deets. Below you’ll find three lists that break down the sources of traffic for three different actions people often take on this site: Subscribe, Comment, or Click on an Ad (AdSense, specifically). This represents Q4 2009.

While there is some overlap in traffic sources between actions, there are more differences than similarities. For example, MinnPost is a good source of new subscribers, but hasn’t generated a penny in AdSense income for me over the past quarter. That’s also probably due to the fact that I tend to get linked up relatively quickly when I write something MinnPost worthy, and I serve fewer AdSense ads on fresh content. What I can’t measure is whether MinnPost referred subscribers turn into ad clickers and commenters via Google Reader, bloglines, iGoogle, and mail subscriptions down the road.

At the Other Future of News Conference, some people mentioned that referrals from search engines aren’t worth much, and went on to mention that traffic entering through a site’s homepage is worth much more to newspaper websites. While I agree with that, the common reaction seems to be to focus on homepage traffic since that type of visitor sticks around longer per visit and is more loyal.

What I wonder is this: Why not run separate strategies to make the most of referring traffic from search engines? There is little chance that someone arriving here from Google Pakistan is going to become a regular reader, so they may as well find what they were looking for, then leave through a Google AdSense ad that may be written in Urdu.

How much time do your site’s regular visitors spend perusing your archives compared to search referrals? The majority of the top earning pages for Q4 were written between 1-2 years ago. That revenue is not coming from loyal readers. Ignoring it is a missed opportunity.

Sites that Generated New Subscribers

powerliberal.blogspot.com / referral
coveritlive.com / referral
minnpost.com / referral
errorpage.comcast.net / referral
twitter.com / referral
search / organic
feedburner / feed
(direct) / (none)
google.com / referral
google / organic

Sites that Generated Comments

cardswap.ca / referral
mail.live.com / referral
futuregringo.com / referral
e-strategyblog.com / referral
reubencollins.blogspot.com / referral
ypgreen.wordpress.com / referral
twincities.com / referral
altavista / organic
blogger.com / referral
phantomreadings.blogspot.com / referral
bloglines.com / referral
kellynford.com / referral
blogcatalog.com / referral
twittergadget.com / referral
mail.google.com / referral
becauseemilysaysso.blogspot.com / referral
coveritlive.com / referral
feedburner / feed
google.ca / referral
heavytable.com / referral
search.mywebsearch.com / referral
facebook.com / referral
flickr.com / referral
google.com / referral
secretsofthecity.com / referral
ask / organic
twitter.com / referral
adventuresofjohnnynorthside.blogspot.com / referral
google.com.eg / referral
(direct) / (none)
tumblr.com / referral
yahoo / organic
google / organic
aol / organic
blog.craigslist.org / referral
bing / organic
images.google.com / referral

Sites That Generated AdSense Income

search.aim.com / referral
mws.ask.com / referral
home.myhughesnet.com / referral
search.myway.com / referral
co102w.col102.mail.live.com / referral
bridgelandnews.org / referral
kd.mysearch.myway.com / referral
errorpage.comcast.net / referral
webcrawler.com / referral
googleblog.blogspot.com / referral
charter.net / referral
twitter.com / referral
search.mywebsearch.com / referral
aol / organic
yahoo / organic
search / organic
bing / organic
google.com.qa / referral
ask / organic
investorguide.com / referral
google / organic
tumblr.com / referral
outside.in / referral
blog.craigslist.org / referral
adverlab.blogspot.com / referral
google.co.in / referral
portal.wowway.net / referral
images.google.com.pk / referral
(direct) / (none)
sobeale.blogspot.com / referral
images.google.ae / referral
webhelp.qwest.net / referral
google.com / referral
pastaqueen.com / referral
guide.opendns.com / referral
google.ae / referral
images.google.com.eg / referral
google.com.bh / referral
images.google.fr / referral
blogger.com / referral
google.com.pk / referral
kellynford.com / referral
reddit.com / referral
images.google.com.sa / referral
images.google.co.in / referral
instapaper.com / referral
brianonline.wordpress.com / referral
dogpile.com / referral
minnehahablog.blogspot.com / referral
images.google.com / referral
cotweet.com / referral
heavytable.com / referral
crazyinternetbeatz.com / referral
blogs.experiencelifemag.com / referral
minnesota.publicradio.org / referral
blog.thinksem.com / referral
images.google.com.bh / referral
thelistenerd.com / referral
bloglines.com / referral
newsbobber.com / referral
horizontalambition.com / referral
mncampaignreport.com / referral
kungfugrippe.com / referral
images.google.ch / referral
feedburner / feed
dallasgoogleguru.wordpress.com / referral
facebook.com / referral
secretsofthecity.com / referral
mnpublius.com / referral

8 thoughts on “The Value of Various Website Referrers”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Value of Various Website Referrers | The Deets -- Topsy.com
  2. @taulpaul, I would imagine that PPC would generally steer toward loyal traffic since the terms media sites would like advertise on would tend to be along that theme. That being said, if someone detects valuable sources of traffic coming from certain keywords and can capture more at a reasonable price using PPC, by all means do.

    @Bill, could that be Hotmail subscribers to your site? Or people using Hotmail who’ve received links to articles from friends?

  3. Well passing the links around is certainly possible but I find it odd that they’d be the #2 ad referrer to the site. I mean we’re talking a lot of money coming from referrer. Doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

  4. One day I will have to click an online ad somewhere, if only to make my existence online worth $0.02 to someone somewhere, eh? 😉

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