Great post, though http://www.blogcatalog.com that sends millions of visits a month to blogs and has an engaged community of bloggers from startup bloggers to pros should be on any list. BlogCatalog is the parent company of http://www.bloggersunite.org a site dedicated to harnessing the power of the blogosphere and another great site for bloggers to connect and get traffic and become more effective bloggers.
Referral traffic in Google Analytics can also include your social traffic or even your email visits. This is largely because there are different ways to track data and there are imperfections in the system, but it also depends on which reports you look at. For example, Acquisition> All channels> Referrals will include much of your social traffic, but the default All channels report does not include Social in your Referrals. The best solutions:
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
So we’re confident that the high social traffic in the sixth example above reflects the highly successful social media campaigns the organization is working on. We could also see this pattern for a site which has decided that they can’t succeed with search and has, as Google suggests for such websites, chosen to work on social media success instead. The difference is, one site would have good Search and Direct traffic and really good social media, while the other might have dismal Search and rely heavily on social media, which is very time consuming and often has a low ROI. This second pattern is one we’ve seen with microbusinesses where the business owner is spending hours each day on social media and making very little progress in the business. Making the investment in a better website would probably pay off better in the long run, even if it seems like an expensive choice.
One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).
Forums are probably one of the least effective forms of free traffic, but it all depends on the forum. You’re looking for large, active communities where you can carve out a bit of a reputation for yourself. Sure, you can dominate a small forum, but the returns won’t be worth it. Conversely, too large a site and you may have trouble attracting attention at all. It’s a hard balance to strike.