Understanding how people landed on your website is a key component of optimization. If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics (and if you haven’t you should), you’ve probably seen the words “Direct,” “Referral,” and “Organic” in relation to your traffic. These are the sources where your users come from — or what Google calls channels. But what do these words really mean, and why do they matter?

For our client: We rolled out a successful implementation of rel="author" for the three in-house content writers the company had. The client had over 300+ articles made by these content writers over the years and it was possible to implement rel="author" for all the aged articles. I advise anyone who has a large section of content to do so as it will only benefit the website. We were also in the process of rolling out further schema markup to the site's course content as it only has a benefit for CTR.
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.
There are always high profile blogs in your industry, no matter what that industry is. It might be sites like Business Insider, Forbes, and Inc. It might be sites like Medium and Gawker. It might be sites like Search Engine Journal and QuickSprout. The fact is, every industry has its dominant forces, and as long as you’re not the dominant blog, you can use the dominant blogs as traffic sources for your own.
On the basis of this article alone, you should be given a Ph.D in internet traffic generation. Absolutely fantastic set of ideas & sources for traffic generation. I had taken a print of this article the first I read it and then took some serious action of some of the ideas that have mentioned here - flickr images, blog commenting, slideshare (this even resulted in some great business leads and closures), sites such as blog engage, blog interact, social media sources such as LinkedIn, forum participation etc. And they have done wonders to my sites. The fact that there are 319 comments here even as I write is testimony to the authenticity of the ideas presented here. Great article which will one day be a classic - if it is not already.
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Good point,The thing with this client is they wanted to mitigate the risk of removing a large number of links so high quality link building was moved in early before keyword research. So it is on a case by case basis, but defiantly a good point for most new clients I work with who do not have pre-existing issues you want to do Keyword Research very early in the process. 
Google claims their users click (organic) search results more often than ads, essentially rebutting the research cited above. A 2012 Google study found that 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks happen when there is no associated organic search result on the first page.[2] Research has shown that searchers may have a bias against ads, unless the ads are relevant to the searcher's need or intent [3]
I feel that an article is only good if it adds value to the reader, and this one qualifies as a great article because it has shown me quite a few new ways in which to generate traffic to my blogs. I would like to tell you that I had read your suggestions about using flickr images on blog for traffic generation some other place as well and I have religiously followed that on my blog and today at least 15% of the traffic to my site comes from there! I am therefore going to follow the other suggestions as well (the ones that I am not following now) and hope to take my blog from Alexa 500K to sub 100K in the next couple of month!
Referral means people clicked on a link somewhere else. This can be email or social, but is mostly links on other websites. If you switch the view in the Channels pie chart to Sources/Mediums, as we did for the screenshot below, you can see your most important links. For our lab site, Pinterest is major, as are Google’s educators’ sites and several homeschool sites. We can click on Acquisitions> Referrals to see more. Referral traffic can be a little confusing because it overlaps with Email and Social; more on that later.
Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
If your site gets most of its traffic from Paid Search, you should ask yourself the same kinds of questions. Is this because you have decided to use aggressive advertising to give your business a nice big push? Is the paid search bringing in plenty of sales for your healthy website? If so, that’s great; this strategy can be seen with some large successful companies. If it’s because you are unsuccessful with organic search so you’re doing paid search instead, you’d probably get a good return on investment if you optimize your website. Typically, the Paid Search results stay about the same, but the Organic Search increases and so do sales.
Now we have a list of landing pages for only visitors that originated from organic searches. Using this list, you can begin to explore your site content and better understand how the search engine is ranking your pages and where some of your traffic is originating. In addition to that, you can also see valuable information about how long these visitors average on the website and how many other pages they view after their initial landing.
Google claims their users click (organic) search results more often than ads, essentially rebutting the research cited above. A 2012 Google study found that 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks happen when there is no associated organic search result on the first page.[2] Research has shown that searchers may have a bias against ads, unless the ads are relevant to the searcher's need or intent [3]
Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.
Brankica, Very comprehensive list there. Can't think of anything else :D RT! I think the traffic sources that I hardly use is answering questions. I find that traffic conversion there is poor for me, so I don't focus too much on it. I think of all those in the list, focus on those that gives you the best kind of traffic. Forums can be a particularly useful one especially when people are there asking for help. Answering their questions and giving them a link that benefits their query is one good way of getting the right kind of traffic.
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.

Hey Diana, out of these 50, you know all of them will work different for different blogs and I haven't fully "milked" some of them, but my top 10 are: commenting, Stumbleupon, Twitter, guest blogging, Reddit, Networked blogs, Blogengage, Bloginteract, round ups and Linked In. Not necesarily in this order of course. I do have to add that one of my top traffic sources (actually the number one) are search engines. Also, I have a lot of subscribers so they keep coming back too. If you have any questions, just post them and I will try to explain better :) Thanks so much for the comment!
That's way easier to do when you understand what all the things you're measuring actually mean. The first place I always start when evaluating a business' marketing is figuring out where the heck all their site traffic, leads, and customers come from. But it occurred to me -- if you don't even know what all those channels mean or how they're bucketed as traffic sources to your website -- it's probably pretty hard for you to start that self-evaluation.
This, of course, if you do care about your organic traffic and your overall inbound marketing strategy and you don’t want to make a mess out of them. The truth is that Google has so many rules and algorithms for scoring a website and that the SERP is so volatile that it’s nearly impossible to predict which site will have the best organic traffic and from what exact reasons.
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.
The truth is that a major problem for search engines is to determine the original source of content that is available on multiple URLs. Therefore, if you are having the same content on http as well as https you will “confuse” the search engine which will punish you and you will suffer a traffic loss. This is why it’s highly important to use rel=canonical tags. What exactly is this?
Reddit is also worth a special mention here. It’s a cross between a social network and a web forum, which is a traffic source we’ll discuss later. Reddit is one of the largest sites online, and the entire focus of the site is based around posting links and discussing the content of those links. A lot of the content you see trend on Facebook or Twitter is trending because Reddit got hold of it and started engaging with it. However, Reddit is a very tricky platform to use for marketing. You have to avoid approaching it like a marketer, because Reddit users are like piranhas. If they sense you trying to use their audience for money, they’ll swarm you and savage you until you feel like you can’t use the site again. Make sure to read up and take great care before trying to market on Reddit.
Thanks for this handy info. I wasn't aware that Google owned Vark so I'm off to check it out. There is so much to learn about the best sites to use on the internet for traffic generation. I'm too frightened of spending more time surfing than actually writing for my own blogs that I probably don't do nearly enough 'looking'. Does anyone else have this time problem V's actual work time?

The best of profitable visitors which you can get to your site is from Organic search results. This means, when people search for something and land on your website because these are the people who are most likely to convert into customers or clients. In blogging, it’s also most profitable as users will be seeing more high CPC Adsense ads, as they will see ads based on their search term.


I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.


Superb resource list Brankica, thank you. I've also included it this week's Erudition, not just because you're in a competition, but because it really is a resource we should all have bookmarked. Actually, I need to make it a study priority and see how many of the sources I can reasonably use on a regualr basis. Link to Erudition | Help files from Information Junkies Anonymous
Hey Christy, thanks so much for the comment and I hear about this HARO thing for the first time. I am definitely going to have to check it out. I have this OCD (lol) that as soon as I hear about something new, I gotta join and try it out. This is officially the new item on my to do list that now has only 563 bullet points. Just kiddin', although we all have long to do lists I always find extra time to see what are the things other bloggers talk about. Thanks so much again :)
Everything on Wikipedia and other Wikis has a resource part. So if the image's resource is your blog (and I am talking about useful and good images, not just anything) you will get traffic. I explained in the post how it generally works for a travel site for example. It works better for some niches than others but creative people can make everything work for them.
You are right. Actually, it is the same with answer site, I mean the same strategy. But you need to be smart using them, you have to answer the question and point them to a link. But with people's short attention spans, they are satisfied with what ever answer you give them and they don't go exploring links so much. Again it does depend on the niche and the type of question. I like that you tracked what converts on your blog, because that is the best thing to do to see what to focus your energy on. Thanks so much for the comment, Bryan.
Bonus: WHAFF is a good tool to make traffic, and also a good tool to make money if you share your invite code in microworkers.com alike websites. Get WHAFF rewards on your abdroid device, and use my invite code: CG90779 to get your first $ 0.50. After getting at least $ 10.5 you can withdraw using your Scrill account and upload the balance to microworkers to make further campaigns
Hey Diana, out of these 50, you know all of them will work different for different blogs and I haven't fully "milked" some of them, but my top 10 are: commenting, Stumbleupon, Twitter, guest blogging, Reddit, Networked blogs, Blogengage, Bloginteract, round ups and Linked In. Not necesarily in this order of course. I do have to add that one of my top traffic sources (actually the number one) are search engines. Also, I have a lot of subscribers so they keep coming back too. If you have any questions, just post them and I will try to explain better :) Thanks so much for the comment!
Hey Brankica! Awesome contest entry! Love it. I, like you, get a decent amount of traffic from Ezine Articles, too! I am not in a rush to do anything drastic just because of the algorithm change. Hubpages is also a lot of fun and I am pretty close to finally making my $100 payout from Adwords. My hubs have been viewed over 10,000 times and I've had a lot of fun there.
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.
WOW Brankica, cannot believe that you also includes Craigslist.org on your list! What a great post, indeed. ;) Elise add #51 email list building, so I would add #52 rss feed submission, #53 review websites like resellerratings.com, reviewcentre.com, etc., #54 blog search engine like Technorati, plus I have about 40 video websites where you can upload and share your video like break.com, blip.tv. Good luck with the contest. ;)

Hey Brankica, I'm going to have to kill a tree for this one too.... going to print it! :-) (but is it as bad if I use a piece of paper that I printed something else on the other side?) Lots of great ideas here I haven't seen as well as some reminders- thanks! Personally, my biggest challenge is consistency! Have you found that some methods take longer to see results or are there certain things you do that consistently work for you? Just curious... I would think that it might depend on the niche as well? (of course you don't know until you try it, huh? ;-)) Thanks for such a great resource- I'll definitely be sharing this with my readers too! :-) Kim
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Now that we have the data we want in the chart, we use the advanced search to filter it down to only the traffic we want to see. Click the blue “Advanced” link beside the search bar that is just to the top right of your list of landing pages. This will open the Advanced search screen, where we want to setup our query. In the green drop down, choose “Medium” and in the text box at the end of the row we type “organic”. Click the Apply button below the query builder to apply this search.
Organic traffic is a special kind of referral traffic, defined as visitors that arrive from search engines. This is what most marketers strive to increase. The higher you rank for certain keywords, the more often your search result appears (increasing your impressions), ultimately resulting in more visitors (aka clicks). It’s also important to note that paid search ads are not counted in this category.
When you run an email marketing campaign, we hope you're including links in that email that lead recipients back to your website -- to read more content, convert, whatever. When you take a look at email marketing as a source of traffic, you'll be able to see how much traffic is sent to your website due to email marketing campaigns you've sent out. That's how we found out, for instance, that driving blog email subscriptions was extremely important to the growth of a business blog -- because many of the visits we receive each month come from subscribers who get pinged in their inboxes that a new blog post is published, prompting a click through to the post! Just be sure to include tracking tokens in the links of your email, otherwise the clicks won't be properly bucketed under the email marketing source.
I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
Hey Jeevan, Forums can ban people for promotion but most of them only do it for certain types of behavior. For example, some of them don't allow signatures until a certain number of posts. All of them will allow related links if it helps answering the question. I have never been banned from a forum and try to play by their rules. Thanks for the compliment and I think you have a great contestant as well, I RTed it the other day cause it is really useful!
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Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.

But now, that is all changing. We can still see all of that information ... sometimes. Things got a whole heck of a lot more complicated a little over a year ago, when Google introduced SSL encryption . What does that mean? It means Google started encrypting keyword data for anyone conducting a Google search while logged in to Google. So if you're logged in to, say, Gmail when you do a search, the keyword you used to arrive on a website is now encrypted, or hidden. So if that website drilled down into its organic search traffic source information, they'd see something like this:


If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a element or HTTP header.


So, Google has accepted the reconsideration request, you can now move forward with creating high-quality link building and a content creation strategy. I see every one creating threads about great content marketing examples, but the problem is that most of the time these are big business examples. SME’s and start-ups do not have big dollars to do such things, so the next best thing is to is to create a content market calendar for your clients. 
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