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How-to 7 min read August 21, 2019

How To Analyze Traffic Of External Links With Google Analytics

Analysis of external links helps to determine the effectiveness and quality of external promotion. If somebody clicks on links from external resources and visits your site, the search engine sees this and gives the link a great value.

Analysis of external links of the site

The purpose of link arrangement is to get the link mass and as many user conversions as possible. The analysis of external links is carried out to establish the presence of traffic on the links, evaluate the success and, if necessary, change your strategy.

How to check how many backlinks a site has? Google can help you with it.

The special report Acquisition in Google Analytics tracks the most effective sources. There are a number of detailed reports that help analyze traffic, check backlinks and link analysis is one of them. In order to create a report log in to the panel. Select the Acquisition section on the toolbar:
Acquisition in Google Analytics
To get a data summary of external hop count, click All Traffic, and after click Referrals.
Referrals in Google Analytics
A summary of traffic sources collects and organizes data on sources and their channels. The report consists of a graphical overview and a table.
Traffic sources and channels in Google Analytics
To get away from the separation of search engines, networks, and other sources, all clicks are grouped according to the total number of site visitors. Traffic sources are all transitions to the site that the user makes. These sources are a search engine, the address of the original website, newsletters, and direct access.

There are different channels, such as organic search, cost per click (CPC), referral, the name of the user's channel that you created, and the direct traffic, which is designated as none. You can control the data summary with the help of the menu below the graph. Settings allow you to make reports on sources, campaigns, keywords, ad content, and landing pages.

To see traffic sources by links, select the Source section, which displays where was the traffic sent from, including UTM tags.
Traffic sources filter in Google Analytics
Set the period for specific traffic analysis. There are special buttons in the upper right corner of the chart:
Traffic analysis by day in Google Analytics
Analyze the table. The main indicators that you should pay attention to are:

  • traffic availability;
  • quality of traffic.
Pay attention not only to the links from which visitors attend the page but also to the results of clicking on them. The Bounce Rate, the number of visited pages and the session duration demonstrate the quality of the received traffic. Conversion links are the most valuable for the site, so you have to be out of them.
External links' traffic analysis with Google Analytics
You should pay attention to the high Bounce Rate and the absence of further transitions. Analyze the links without further site transition and find out what is the reason for it. It is possible that the donor subject matter does not match yours, you use the wrong anchor, or another problem has arisen.

If you used internal supervision where donors and landing pages were recorded before links publishing, then you would find resources with active links. To analyze traffic on a specific link, use the search:
Internal links' analysis using Google Analytics
After analysis, you can easily find out which links bring the best traffic. Follow them to establish the probable reason for this success. If you understand why users not only go from the donor to you but also stay on your site, then you can focus on arranging the most effective links, which significantly affects the quality of SEO promotion.

However, if it is difficult for you to evaluate the effectiveness and find new directions in the development of link mass, you can conduct an analysis of the competitor's external links. You can do it with the help of Serpstat.

Links that give you traffic, but have a high Bounce Rate for your topic also require special attention. First of all, make sure that the content of the donor matches your subject, and the link looks harmonious in the text. The location of the link is also important. User has to see it to click, but not find it accidentally while reading. Therefore, it is better to place links in the first part of the page, especially when it comes to reviews.

Not all links lead to a site transition, so you also need to conduct an online analysis of external links that do not influence the traffic level. Firstly, you should analyze these links and make sure that they still contain a hyperlink to your site. Then analyze if is it convenient for the user to find the link; whether the surrounding content is suitable for the topic.

These factors do not guarantee you many clickthroughs but increase their general possibility.


Google Analytics collects all information about the site, including referral sources. To analyze the presence of traffic via an external link, go to the toolbar and select the Acquisition section. Next, click on All Traffic and click on Referrals. Adjust the received report by periods and special report indicators.

During the analysis, pay your attention on:

  • if there is traffic, find out what influences it to use it as an example in a future publication of links;

  • if there is traffic, but the Bounce Rate and visit depth are not justified, then find out the reason for it. Perhaps it can be fixed;

  • if you do not find links from which you expected to have traffic, then check whether these links are published at all, where they are published and among which content.

Nevertheless, even when there is no traffic, links pass the link juice from donors. However, a link that has clicks is more valuable for search engine optimization. Therefore, you need to focus on finding precisely effective channels.
How To Get Quality Backlinks: The Ultimate Guide (2021 Linkbuilding Strategies That Work)

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