Note: Google made a change a few years ago to how they track keywords and it has had a big impact on the discovery process. Before the change, Google would show which keywords consumers were using to find your website, making it easy to understand where and how your website was ranking. Google changed their tracking system so that any users who are logged into a Google account while searching will no longer have their keywords tracked as their Google activity remains encrypted. Due to this, when looking at Organic Traffic reports you will see (not provided) as a keyword throughout the reports – this often makes up over 90% of organic traffic and requires us to dig a bit more creatively to find what we need.
Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.
The term “organic traffic” is used for referring to the visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (“organic”) search results. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which defines the visits generated by paid ads. Visitors who are considered organic find your website after using a search engine like Google or Bing, so they are not “referred” by any other website.