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Referral Traffic: A Form of Word of Mouth

By Gyi Tsakalakis

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of web traffic sources for your law firm’s website, and embraced the importance of direct traffic, it’s time to tackle referral traffic.

Referral traffic is made up of visitors from other websites around the web. They are the visitors who get to your site by clicking links on other sites. For example, let’s say you write a blog. Let’s also assume that at the end of posts, you include a link to the profile that appears on your law practice’s website. People who read your post and click the link to your bio page will register as referrals to your website from your blog.

Referral Traffic

There are countless ways to generate referral traffic. Online commenting, social sharing and guest blogging are among the most common. But of course, what you share and where you share it, matters.

In many ways, referral traffic is one of the best indicators of how what you’re doing online is being perceived by others. It’s the online arbiter of distinguishing quality from crap. You see, you might be able to “game search engines” (at least for a time) and trick searchers into clicking through to your pages. But it’s much more difficult to trick a real person into clicking through from another website.

In fact, even if you do get the click, an unhappy visitor may make you wish you hadn’t.

With referral traffic, you are really forced to earn the click.

How to Earn Referral Traffic

The most difficult way to earn referral traffic is by publishing “stuff” that people actually want to read. This might be contrary to what you’ve heard before. You’ve probably read somewhere that “content is king” and “if you write it, they will come.”

I've come for your splogs.But not all content is majestic. In fact, most is worthy of regicide.

However, like most things, in its difficulty lies its value. If you are capable of doing stuff that’s worthy of online attention, earning referral traffic will come quite easily.

But if you can’t write, fear not, there are other ways to earn it.

You should start with your clients. If you are able to provide clients with exceptional experiences, some of them are likely to sing your praises online. And some of these testimonials, ratings and reviews will contain links. So, when people look you up online, they’ll find this happy client evangelization and they’ll click through to learn more about you.

Voila, referral traffic.

This is how referral traffic works like word of mouth.

But perhaps you help clients who are reluctant to share with the entire world that they were in need of your particular kind of legal services. If this is the case, you might begin by engaging your local community online. How?

Seek out people you know who might be interested in socializing with you online. Find them on social networking sites. Say hi. Shoot the breeze. Share interesting stuff you find around the web.

When someone in your online network is in need of your services (or knows someone else who might be), they’ll think, “doesn’t Larry Lawyer do this?” And they’ll look you up.

Of course, most of them will probably turn to search engines (a discussion for another time). But others will remember you from other sites. When they find your profile on these sites, they’re likely to click through to your site to learn more.

Even those who turn to search engines may find themselves clicking through to other sites before clicking their way to yours. These visitors will also register as referral traffic.

If you already know all this, and you’re still not generating referral traffic, you need to take a look at what you’re doing online. Perhaps your posts, comments, tweets, and shares aren’t really as click-worthy as you think.

Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because clients are looking for them there. He is a co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms. You can find more of Gyi’s writings in his “Optimize” column on Attorney at Work, on Lawyerist and on Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog. You can ask him a question (or just say hi) on LinkedInTwitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Catch Up on Gyi’s Website Traffic Series

Illustration ©istockphoto

Categories: Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Marketing, Optimize
Originally published November 13, 2013
Last updated February 18, 2020
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