How to Mine Referral Data for Paid Advertising Opportunities


Purchasing advertising on third-party sites can be a challenge since there’s no guarantee your spend will generate anything worthwhile.

But, by using Google Analytics with correctly set or established goal values, you can mine your referral data for potentially lucrative paid advertising opportunities – often those sitting right under your nose.

Your referring traffic report is a potential gold mine – one that is easily tapped if you follow a few key steps to ensure you measure the value of referring traffic sources.


In case you’re not a Google Analytics expert, here’s why this is important…

Google Analytics allows you to define goals. These could be anything from visits to a key page on your site to form submissions or actual purchases.

But here’s the kicker… in addition to defining goals, you can also assign a dollar value to those goals.

Know why that’s amazing? Because it unlocks endless varieties of analytics functionality that don’t exist without goal values.

When you assign values to goals, Google Analytics automatically calculates the dollar value of a wide variety of things, such as pages on your site and traffic sources.


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You can find this report in Google Analytics under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.


The last column of this report shows Google’s calculation of the value of each page on the site based on the dollar values that were set for each goal.

But defining goal values can be really tricky.

What’s the value of your inbound marketing? A whitepaper download? A newsletter signup? A visit to your about or pricing pages?

The good news: It doesn’t matter. Just make a rough estimate.

Try to set the relative value for each of these goals to something that makes sense – don’t worry about figuring out what each goal is actually worth.

For example, a contact form submission is probably worth substantially more than a visit to your About Us page.

Following this model, set your contact form goal value to $100 and your About Us pageview goal value to $3.

Done. It’s that simple.


Next we need to find the most valuable referrers. And this part is crazy easy…

In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.

You should see something like the screenshot below, listing all your top referring sources.

Two important notes here:

  1. These will be sorted by Sessions. Instead, sort by that last column, “Goal Value.”
  2. By default, Analytics will show values for your first goal. To see the combined value of all goals, be sure to select “All Goals” in the “Conversions” box above the last column. 

Now you have a report that lists each referring website and its corresponding goal value.

It’s easy to see in the above screenshot that the first site was responsible for $9,390.00 in goal value in the past 30 days.

That’s 32% of the goal value of every referring site in the last 30 days!

If we’re going to advertise anywhere, it’s going to be on that site.


So, now we know which sites are sending the most valuable traffic.

Let’s go get more of it.

Find their contact info, ask for advertising information or negotiate something new if they don’t already offer it.