Home How to Get More Referral Traffic from Your Offsite Links

How to Get More Referral Traffic from Your Offsite Links

By now, you’re likely familiar with link building as a central strategy in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). With the help of the right link-building services, you can establish a broad network of links pointing back to your site.

When you have links pointing back to your site, these links help you generate more authority and trustworthiness for your domain, which will then increase your likelihood of ranking highly for terms relevant to your brand. In short, lots of powerful links will boost your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

But external links aren’t just about improving your authority; they’re also about increasing your referral traffic. Don’t forget that links still serve their first and most important purpose – aiding web users in getting to their intended destination. If placed and used correctly, your network of links can generate thousands of regular visitors to your website.

Get More Referral Traffic from Your Offsite Links


You can start by focusing on the publishers you choose for your core content. Millions of different publishers are available online, from mega institutions that get millions of views to obscure niche publishers that barely get any traffic.

Choosing better publishers can mean the difference between an article getting no referral traffic and one that practically crashes your website due to its popularity.

Here are some tips to help you in this area:

  • Align with your brand when possible. Consider your industry and brand identity. When feasible, choose publishers that align with your areas of expertise and your values. This will make it much easier to get accepted and get your content published. More importantly, it’s going to give you a properly aligned target audience who is more likely to click through to investigate your link.
  • Work with the best and most prominent publishers you can. One of the most obvious strategies is to work with the best publishers you can find, optimizing your strategy to get content placed on publishers that see a lot of traffic and engagement. However, this is easier said than done as the world’s most popular publishers are both pickier about the content they accept and rife with competition.
  • Climb the ladder. The best way to approach this problem is to climb the publisher ladder, starting at the bottom and gradually working your way to more prominent publishers. You’ll develop a much better reputation as you get more work published on more outlets. In time, you’ll have such a reputation as an author that it’s trivially easy for you to get a shot at producing content for a major publisher.
  • Accept nofollow links. Search engine professionals sometimes hold themselves back because they prioritize regular links over nofollow links. If you didn’t know, nofollow links are links that Google practically ignores; they are indexed, and they can’t possibly contribute to your domain authority. So if you hear that a publisher only accepts nofollow links, you might be tempted to avoid it in pursuit of more authority. But if referral traffic is one of your top priorities, nofollow links are just as valuable.
  • Diversify your publisher portfolio. You should also try to diversify your publisher portfolio, working with a wide range of different publishers in different industries. It’s an excellent way to hedge your bets and make sure you always have a stable network of publisher relationships to rely on.
  • Measure and recognize your best sources. While optimizing your link-building strategy, make an effort to measure and recognize your best sources. For example, which publishers send the most referral traffic your way, and why are they better than the others? Similarly, don’t be afraid to cut publishers that aren’t yielding any value for you.

Core Content

Next, you’ll need to think about the core content you’re writing. The highest quality links are ones that are housed inside well-written, detailed content. It’s no coincidence that better content typically yields higher clickthrough rates.

Here are some ways you can optimize your content for referral traffic.

  • Choose evergreen topics (for the most part). Most of your strategy should focus on so-called “evergreen” topics – topics that will remain relevant indefinitely. Evergreen content has a much longer lifespan, allowing your links to continue generating traffic for months or even years into the future. Accordingly, these pieces of content tend to be much more valuable than their short-lived counterparts. Of course, there are some exceptions here, as covering newsworthy events can be valuable as well.
  • Create compelling headlines. Most people disproportionately look at the headlines of new articles on their paper publishers. Without a compelling headline, you’re not going to get a readership, and without a readership, you’re not going to generate traffic. So spend plenty of time optimizing your headlines for engagement.
  • Appeal to a specific niche. If you want to see better results, try appealing to a specific niche. Understand your target demographics inside and out and bright content specifically optimized for them. Always get to know your publisher before writing a piece for them.
  • Write masterfully. This is generic advice, but it’s impossible to concisely summarize what makes a good article good. You’ll need to include ample detail, write fluidly and in a decipherable way, and cite all your sources.

Placement and Enticement

You also need to think about how you’re placing the link and how you’re enticing potential visitors to your website.

  • Cite something important. Consider including your link as a citation for a specific statistic or other information your target audience will want to investigate. Anyone curious about learning more about the context of this fact will inevitably click the link.
  • Link to further reading. You could also consider including a link to further reading on a given subject. You can imply that there are many more details to learn about this subject, and provide a link to an onsite resource that provides those details. Interested parties will be motivated to follow the link to learn more.
  • Place your link above the fold. Always try to include a link proverbially “above the fold,” meaning as high as possible in the article. This will increase the likelihood of each individual reader encountering the link, since some people will abandon your article before reading the whole thing.
  • Minimize competition (to an extent). It’s always a good idea to include links other than your own in the body of an article, so your link doesn’t come off as too promotional. However, you should be wary not to endorse or link to your competitors.
  • Avoid selling yourself too hard. Links can and should be somewhat promotional, but don’t go overboard. If you market yourself too hard, the link may be removed, and readers may form a bad impression of your brand. If the link comes off as a pure advertisement, very few people will follow it.
  • Include links in your bio as well. Of course, links in the body of your article aren’t the only links you can build while relying on publishers. Most publishers will encourage you to create a bio page, where you can include additional links back to your site.


Your article will likely generate at least some traffic entirely on its own, just by virtue of being published in a publicly accessible place. But if you want your links to perform their best, you’ll need to support them in other ways.

As a simple measure, you can share your new article across social media and tell people you know about it. But if you want to give it some extra juice, you should consider doing something even more powerful, such as paying for advertising to promote your work.

Volume and Scaling

Once you have the fundamentals in place, you can work on scaling your efforts; in other words, you’ll be writing more content, working with more publishers, and building more links. Don’t worry about overwhelming yourself with new work; you can always hire additional writers or freelancers to help you shoulder the burden. At scale, your link-building efforts will yield far value far exceeding whatever you spend on content creation initially.

Referral traffic can singlehandedly support your website if you learn to master the art of link building. It works even better as a complementary strategy for your other traffic generation efforts. All it requires is a bit of extra attention and planning.

Image Credit: George Morina; Pexels; Thank you!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Timothy Carter
Chief Revenue Officer

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & Law.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach -- preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter

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