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?
The time might have come when you want to secure your website and switch from HTTP to HTTPS. Easier said than done. A lot of issues might appear along the way that can screw up your hard-worked organic traffic. However, there is one thing that can really mess up things for your website while moving your site to https; and that is the canonical tag.
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.
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.