So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.

I don't generally think of my own list as a traffic source, because those are people that subscribed and keep coming back, mostly because of good content. This is more tutorial about where to get fresh traffic from in case a person is not using some of these sources already. Where have you guest posted, I haven't seen any, would like to read some of those :)

Another tip you can use is just reach out to the prior agency and say something like the following: “We realise you were using link networks for our website which has resulted in a Google penalty and loss in business. Can you please remove my website from any link network you have built?”. If the prior agency is decent, they will remove the links from the network.
You could spend a week researching and writing a 3,000 word in-depth guide only to find that in a month its traffic is being eclipsed by a 300 word blog that took you one tenth of the time to write. That little gem could start ranking for some pretty valuable keywords – even if you never planned for it to. Give it a makeover and you’ll see your rankings on SERPs (search engine results pages) and organic traffic values soar. We’ve seen this strategy work with both our clients and our own website. Big bonus: it’s actually an easy strategy to pull off. Here’s how:
If you want to know how engaging your content is, you might look at bounce rates, average time on page and the number of pages visited per session to get an idea – and Google can do precisely the same. If a user clicks through to your site, quickly returns to the results page and clicks on another listing (called “pogo-sticking”), it suggests you haven’t provided what this person is looking for.
The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.[1]
However, this may not be the case for your company or your clients. You may start by looking at keyword rankings, and realize that you’re no longer ranking on the first page for ten of your core keywords. If that’s the case, you quickly discovered your issue, and your game plan should be investing in your core pages to help get them ranking again for these core keywords.
In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.

Being a good internet Samaritan is great and all, but how does this help you build links? Let me explain: the kind of broken links you’re looking for are found on sites relevant to your business, industry, or niche. By finding these sites and informing them of these broken links, you strike up a conversation with the site owner and give yourself the opportunity to suggest a link to your epic piece of content be added to their site.

The first step that I take is to do a quick Google search to find pages on my domain where I've mentioned the keyword in question so that I can add an internal link. To do this, I'll use the following search query, replacing DOMAIN with your domain name (e.g. and KEYWORD with the keyword you're targeting (e.g. "social media strategy"):
You had to know social media would be on the list. I generally recommend that a site only have a presence on 2-3 social networks, at least while they’re small. It’s a lot of work to maintain, engage, and update a social network profile, and keep its messaging consistent with your branding. You can always spay someone to do it for you, but then it’s not a free traffic source, is it?
The strength of your link profile isn’t solely determined by how many sites link back to you – it can also be affected by your internal linking structure. When creating and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.

James, you give a great template for how a business needs to move forward in their chosen niche online.  Quite informative and the meeting of minds has been something a number of us have done online and in person to gain better insight into our small similar businesses.  Thank you for sharing your detailed approach to increasing organic traffic...content still is king.
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.