Google Analytics – Referrals, links back to your Folksy shop

Where did you say you were from?

Red earth original Paul Bailey Watercolour

This is the third post in our series on getting to grips with the basics of Google Analytics reports, we’ve already looked at visitor reportskeywords and SEO and now we are going to look at referring sites reports. Where is the traffic to your Folksy.com shop coming from?

‘Referring Sites’ reports are found under Traffic Sources on the left hand side navigation list of your dashboard. They tell you which websites are linking to your shop and your listings.

Why do I need to know where they came from?

If you are keen to make a success of your Folksy shop you will need to  spend time on promotion.  It’s useful to know whether your hard work is paying off.  Emailing your details to journalists, blogging, posting in forums, posting on social media sites and holding giveaways can all be evaluated to see if the time (or money) spent was worthwhile in terms of not only the number of mentions of your shop online but also the quality of the traffic that clicked through.

Without this info it’s difficult to tell whether your items are not selling because of the items themselves or because of a lack of targeted traffic to your listings.  Armed with this analytical information you can make positive changes and become more efficient at promoting your Folksy shop.

Why are referrals or ‘back links’ so important?

Referrals are not only important for bringing visitors directly to your site, these back links also indirectly increase visits to your shop through search engines.  It is important to try to build links from quality websites as these links will support the credibility of your shop in the eyes of google, yahoo and bing.

Think of a link from another webpage as a vote, the more relevant the website that links back the more these votes for your shop will count.  The words that are hyperlinked are also important and can help to boost your ranking in search results. (just like with that link!) If you are being featured you could ask for a blogger or journalist to add these kind of in text links rather than just a url pasted at the bottom of an interview or online feature.

Understanding the Referring Sites Reports

Referring sites sent X visits via Y sources

The fist page you see on clicking ‘referring sites’ will show the total number of referral visits and the number of sources they came from.  There will be a list displayed with the top referring sites in order.  The list shows just the domains, clicking the link will take you to a further list showing the various pages within that domain containing a link to your shop and a breakdown of the traffic.

Above you can see Folksy.com was featured in an article called 30 affordable gifts you wont find on the high street we had a healthy number of referrals from this site when the article was published.  Clicking through from the first list page which showed the domain lovemoney.com we are then able to see the exact page link that sent over the traffic, one domain could have numerous pages that link to your shop.

If you click the arrow to the left of the url it will take you to the page containing the link. If you weren’t expecting the link to your Folksy shop it’s a good idea to check what people have written and what context your items are being used – if you are unhappy with the affiliation just contact the site and ask them to remove the link.  Contact support@folksy.com if you are worried or would like some further advice.

Finding out more

It’s great when traffic is being directed at your shop, especially if it is as a result of your marketing or social networking efforts. Looking at the referring sites report you can see if your promotional activity is paying off. Click on each referring link  and you can answer all of these questions about the success of a backlink:

How long did the visitors via this link stay? – Did they like what they saw / read or did they see the product and just click ‘back’ immediately.

How many pages did they look at? – If they are interested in your shop then it’s likely they will have a good look at all your items.

How many of them were new visitors? – Did this link reach out to new people, or was every visit from one of your existing fans.

Which page on your site was linked to? – The landing page. You can use the little drop down box (circled in red on the image) to find landing page details.

Where did they come from geographically? – Again using the drop down box you can look at the town, city or country that a visitor came from.  This can be useful for tracking local interest when you have been featured on facebook pages which won’t give you the private profile page. (just /l.php )

Acting on the Info

As we have said before, if you don’t act on the information that Google Analytic provides then it’s not worth looking at it.  If people are clicking through but not hanging around or looking at other items in your Folksy shop, then you could surmise that they didn’t like what they saw.  This needs addressing, it could indicate you need to improve your shop front or it could simply mean that the traffic wasn’t from your target market.  You may need to reconsider your promotional efforts. If you have paid for an advert this is especially important, but do remember the indirect effect of backlinks on search results.  We’ll look at how to analyse this effect in a later post.

Next time we’ll be looking at your Folksy.com Shop listings by finding out how to use ‘content’ reports to good effect.

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8 Comments

  • January 10, 2011

    Lisa Hafey

    I did all that, but you know what? Not one of the links had referred to my shop at all, I think the referring sites were just the ones people had visited *before* they’d looked at mine, but there was no clue in the stats as to *why* they might have visited…

  • January 10, 2011

    Paul Bailey

    Great pic ;)

  • January 10, 2011

    Hilary

    Yes a great pic Paul! It’s stunning.

    Hi lisa, yes it’s a pain about these kind of referrals. They are created with cookies from visits to the main site or other shops and then will show as the referrer. Eg if a visitor came from the craft carousel blog to a shop and then eventually found one of your items through the internal search.

    There’s other theories surrounding these sort of links like multiple browser windows and also out of date browsers. On some browsers you can actually turn off the referral string so GA can’t report where a visitor came from.

    It’s a shame not to have links though so perhaps your investigation has proved you could work to increase the backlinks into your shop :)

    These ‘real’ links should appear with multiple click throughs so be nearer the top of your list and easier to spot.

    Interestingly you see google and search engines appearing as referrals, for some reason image searches appear as referals which seems odd, perhaps this will change soon. Don’t confuse this with the search traffic reports.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by folksy, Google News US. Google News US said: [wikio.com] Google Analytics – Referrals, links back to your Folksy shop (Folksy Blog): Where did you sa… http://bit.ly/hl0aXd #google […]

  • January 12, 2011

    A Deegan

    Thanks Hilary, I’ve always checked my referrals out of sheer nosiness but now i see that it might just be useful too. And thanks for explaining those referring sites that don’t refer!

  • […] for Folksy it has taken a back seat but I thought a cheeky link was in order.  (read our recent google analytics basics post here on the Folksy blog if you are unsure of how useful backlinks can be […]

  • […] you will have read the previous posts in this series and you will now know how important knowing where traffic has come from is. Often promotional activities are specific to a new item or listing so rather than looking at […]

  • January 17, 2011

    Vicky

    Thanks for this interesting series of articles. I was just wondering if there is a way of excluding your own visits from google analytics reports? On days when I’m updating my shop I’m constantly checking the shop page and listings and don’t want these visits included. Any help appreciated!