I’ve picked up an interesting article from Fortune Magazine regarding what makes Google News worth so much to Google when there are no ads.

Basically, free products offered from Google helps driving traffic to their search, and tie users into a broader Google ecosystem. This is a similar concept to creating micro sites for any web sites out there trying to market their site, products, or services.

The great question that comes out of this is, how valuable is that micro site or sites that refer traffic to your site? Is it the level of traffic that refers to the site for increased exposure and awareness, or is it the conversion and quality of traffic that is brought to your site?
What makes Google’s model so great is that, each site connects in a form of “relevancy”.

Google News is relevant to Google search because people who read a news article may get more curious about certain topics or content, and they’ll go off searching (likely through Google).

Same logic may work for you site, when you’re trying to leverage referrals from others. So in order to maximize the value of referring traffic to your site, you need to understand if you’re acquiring the right kind of users. Knowing the content you serve through your web site, are there any gaps between the interest of the users, and the relevancy between the other sites and your site?

It becomes more critical to understand this, especially if your visitors are bouncing away or even paying for that traffic acquisition (money going out). When you test your metrics through analytics, look at the key metrics (page / visits, bounce rate, conversions, etc.) by referring domains. Search engines aren’t the only traffic acquisition method, and quality referrals from other sites could produce valuable outcome. It can broaden your site’s ecosystem.

Obviously, there is really not much you can control when people are linking to you site on their own will, but assessing and optimizing the referrals could be done if it’s within the reach of your control like:

  • Micro sites
  • adjusting content
  • adding content
  • buying ads on other sites
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