In yesterday's Daily Golden Nugget, I detailed how several different methods of referred visitor traffic have changed over the last 2 holiday seasons. Two highlights from yesterday are:
1. A decline in referral traffic from Chamber of Commerce websites.
2. A decline in referral traffic from directory websites (e.g. citysearch.com).
I don't know why these 2 type of websites have lower traffic referrals, but my speculations are as follows:
Speculative #1: A regretful byproduct of Google's 2012 policies. Chamber of commerce sites are usually poorly structured and have little content other than huge numbers of outbound links to other sites.
Speculative #2: There are far too many websites out there with directory listings of businesses. Much of the information is redundant so Google removes all but the highest quality results from the SERPs.
One of the more surprising things I noticed during my annalists was the jump in the referrals from sites that have paid ads. These paid ads were not from AdWords, but from other sources which I've explained below.
The biggest single jump in referral traffic comes from TheFind.com. TheFind is a website database of retail products. Merchants can create an account for free and upload products for price comparison shopping. When you pay for their "Upfront" service, your products are displayed more often.
The biggest collective jump in referral traffic comes from advertising agencies. I see many local and national ad agencies that are posting ads and website links online. My perception is that agencies are offering a value added service to jewelers who are still paying for traditional media ads. One of the biggest methods of ad distribution is through the home pages that your ISP shows you.
AT&T, AOL, SBC Global, Yahoo, Verizon, and countless others all have customized home pages for local towns. The more technologically advanced advertising agencies have bulk media buys on those home pages for local advertisers. The next time you hire an ad agency, you should ask them about online distribution of a digital version of your ad. You should consider taking your advertising business somewhere else if they are clueless about online distribution.
Community websites are the next group of websites providing an increase in referral traffic for retail jewelers. This group includes tourism websites, local town websites, multi-town (i.e. community) websites, and university campus websites. Websites in this category are usually very well written with all original content. They typically include photos of the local area, blogs, business listings, local news, and everything that any member of the community would want to know to keep up to date.
Many of these community websites employ their own advertising methods and advertising sales staff. This means more jewelers are paying for ads to appear on these community sites, and the ads are working.
As a final note, the measurements I'm seeing for referral traffic are growing, but they are still a very small percentage of the traffic that I monitor; most traffic comes from AdWords and simple organic searches. I am NOT recommending for you to give up on SEO efforts or AdWords campaigns, I'm only guiding you to some extra added places you can gain business.