Referral links from suppliers, customers, directories and strategic partners are valuable source of leads for most businesses.
BUT over time links that were once sending traffic to your site may have been removed or no longer finding your site. For instance, an organisation that was once sending you referrals may have upgraded their website and not reinstated a link to your site or maybe you changed your own site and forgot to redirect an old URL to the new URL.
[The end result can be costly:]
Whatever the reason, the first step is identifying lost sources by visiting Google Analytics under Acquisition > Referrals. Then extend the time period to at least a year – or 5 years if you’re an established business. Next, click on the top referral sources to see if they are increasing, decreasing or have stopped completely.
Identify sources that have dropped off and then establish when that occurred. You can dig deeper by clicking the referral source and finding out the exact referral path and open up that actual page to see if your link is still showing. If it’s no longer present you may want to contact them asking for it to be restored!
Another method of identifying referral links that may not be reaching you is by looking inside Webmaster Tools under Crawl Errors. Check your own URL error pages and ensure no referral partners are linking to your 404 error pages. If they are, make sure you redirect that 404 error to the most relevant page.
Taking time to do this will no doubt uncover some unexpected sources of referrals – which should give you ideas for establishing new online referral partners that can send your business free and targeted leads.