Content marketing metrics that matter, part 3: Backlinks, traffic referrals, and unique versus returning visitors

The Scribble Weekly
Vol. 1, Issue 8

We’re sad that this content metrics party is winding down, but rest assured, our cruise director informed us there will be many others coming soon.

Before last call, we’re sharing our final three groundbreaking metrics to determine your content marketing ROI.

If you’ve missed this series, you can always go back to Part 1, where we discussed traffic, engagement, and sales conversions, and Part 2, when we talked about bounce rate, time on page, and click-through-rate (CTR).

This week, we’re wrapping up with backlinks, evaluating referral sources, and counting unique vs. returning visitors.

Again, we’ll be showing you how to find these metrics using Google Analytics. And if you’re not quite there yet, then head on over to this Google Analytics primer and watch this video tutorial for getting your site all set up.

If you’ve stuck around to geek out with us on content analytics, then this Scribble’s for you.


In Volume 1, Issue 2 of The Scribble, we talked about how backlinks are just one of 200 factors in Google’s search ranking algorithm. Content links from other, external sites that go back to your site are a good thing. This helps validate your content on a topic and positively impacts your domain authority, too.

Also called an Inbound Link (IBL), these links are important in determining the popularity (or importance) of your website. The more you have, the more search bots crawling your site will rank and reward your content.

The most practical and reliable way to view your current backlinks is to head over to Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. From there, you’ll see a list of linking domains on the left, and where those links point on your site.

Search Console Backlinks

console backlinks.png

While it’s good to link to your own content on your pages, as this may help improve your bounce rate, it’s best to have external sites link back to yours to help increase your search ranking.

Traffic referral sources

You may think you know where all of your website traffic comes from. It’s that awesome Entrepreneur blog post that featured your company’s product pivot, from an investment management company to a robo-advised tech platform, right?

Wrong. In reality, it’s from that money blogger who has more than 100K subscribers, and is a raving fan.

When it comes to who’s referring people to your content, it’s one thing to speculate, but it’s more fun to know for sure.

Here’s how: In Google Analytics, when you view your Referrals under Traffic Sources, you see the top domains that sent people to your website.


Source: Neil Patel

Then, click any of the source domains, and you’ll see specific referral paths. These hold the key to understanding how people find you and your site content.

Many popular content management platforms like WordPress and Squarespace will also have some level of traffic referral sources.

Understanding where your traffic comes from will help you focus on what’s working and what areas need improvement. For example, if not enough people are finding you from your social media channels, then perhaps it’s time to engage in some paid distribution efforts.

Unique vs. returning visitors

The sister metric to traffic referral sources is determining the number of your unique versus returning visitors.

According to Analytics Edge, “Most websites tend to have more new visitors and fewer returning visitors. But the returning visitors tend to have higher engagement — they bounce less, view more pages per session, and have higher session durations. They also tend to have higher conversion rates and higher sales … much higher. This makes us want more returning visitors.”

But every site needs both.

Google Analytics uses the dimension User Type to differentiate between a New Visitor and a Returning Visitor.

It shows this dimension in the standard report Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returningalong with a number of metrics.

The metrics displayed vary depending on whether you have Enable Users Metrics (Property Settings) or Enable Ecommerce (View Settings) options on.


Source: Analytics Edge


Source: Analytics Edge

For a deeper dive into how Google Analytics defines users and sessions, look here.

Once you know this data, you’ll want to digest who’s coming to your site for the first time, or back for more. And if your first-time users aren’t coming back, you may wish to incentivize them to come again. Install an exit pop-up, offer a coupon, encourage them to download an e-book, or sign up for a valuable newsletter.

If repeat users aren’t converting or have a higher bounce rate than new users, then you may wish to consider the quality or quantity of your content. Publish consistent, fresh content, optimize older content, and promote both on social media.

Another option would be to retarget visitors back to your site using cookie-based browsing data, where they are served ads to re-visit you.

At Scribe, we can help you create excellent, publication-ready, and compliant content that encourages backlinks, and gets you new and repeat customers.

We can help you create stellar content from scratch, and improve strategies that aren’t working.

Want to learn more?

Get in touch by replying to this email or contact us at today.

— Your friends at Scribe 

Join us next week:

  • We’re featuring insights from a serial entrepreneur who has never paid a single advertising dollar to get leads. His secret to getting clients knocking on his door? Guest blogging + posting on LinkedIn. We’ll show you how.

  • Want to know who outranks you in search engine results? We’ll tell you all about our custom SEO reports.

P.S. A 20 second-ish book review

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity, by Jamie Metzl

This title came up at not one but two recent dinner parties, so we had to give it a bash.

Its premise is that we are the cusp of a future where reproductive intervention could outpace natural selection. Mind you, the author is not a scientist and has only served as a prominent speaker in geopolitical affairs, but his future is one where people use gene selection techniques like cloning, in vitro fertilization, and CRISPR (all methods explained in the book), to advance the human species.

He considers religion yet, ultimately, leaves the question of what choices we can or should make for the human greater good, up to us as moral, responsible human beings. Insightful and worth a spin, especially if you want to be the science-y guest at your next dinner party. 👍👍