Once a website benefits from visitors in some way, it’s time to worry about where those visitors are coming from. Doing so lets you:
Encourage sites that send you traffic, either by contacting them, sponsoring them, or inviting them to become an affiliate of some sort.
Advertise on sites that send you visitors who convert, since visitors they send your way are more likely to do what you want once they reach your site.
Measure affiliate referrals as part of an affiliate compensation program.
Understand the organic search terms people use to find you and adjust your marketing, positioning, and search engine optimization accordingly.
Verify that paid search results have a good return on investment.
Find the places where your customers, your competitors, and the Internet as a whole are talking about you so you can join the conversation.
The science of getting the right visitors to your site is a combination of Affiliate Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization, which are beyond the scope of this book.
When a web browser visits a website, it sends a request for a page. If the user linked to that page from elsewhere, the browser includes a referring URL. This lets you know who’s sending you traffic.
The HTTP standard actually calls a referring URL a “referer,” which may have been a typo on the part of the standard’s authors. We’ll use the more common spelling of “referrer” here.
If you know the page that referred visitors, ...