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On a proposal page over at Area 51, it says,

Eventually, 90% of a site's traffic should come from search engines.

I propose it would be useful to add a referrer row to the metrics table. I don't suggest anything too low level, more along the lines of:

20% Search Engines (Bing, Google etc)
15% Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook etc)
45% StackExchange Network
20% Other

Far form just stats porn, it would provide insight into the quality of content and dynamic of the site. Low search engine referrals would indicate poor quality questions and answers or little wider appeal. High social network referrals suggest active and engaged community.

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+100 if I could – Borror0 Mar 15 '11 at 20:33
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your suggestion has been heard and we will be looking at this issue further. The implementation of this is not exactly trivial so we need to decide exactly how useful the data would be.

The problem is that there is no criteria on exactly what is the right balance of referal traffic from these different sources. Bringing in new traffic from outside sources (referrals) is obviously important for growth. Historically, most Stack Overflow traffic was derived from search-engine traffic; but that was before social networking was such a force and an integral part of these sites.

So is "search engine" traffic better (or worse) than "social network" referrals? Is heavy cross-SE promotion a bad thing? Is defining whatever we deem to be "optimal" necessarily the same across sites?

If there is something useful to be learned beyond "I was just curious", the feature could be useful. Absent any understanding what the data actually means is just information porn.

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