Now, there's one more little group that might fall into direct traffic -- it's something you might have heard about as "Dark Social" if you've been staying up to date on, well, dark social as a referral source. Basically, dark social is what some people are calling the social site traffic that most analytics programs can't capture since it lacks referral data, but is coming from things like emails and instant messengers (which, technically, are social mechanisms). Often, this unidentifiable traffic -- anything without a referring URL -- is also bucketed into direct traffic. Now, as BuzzFeed so eloquently puts it, "all 'dark social' traffic is direct traffic, but not all direct traffic is dark social."
Brankica, So far 223 Comments. No wonder ! This post is SO full of rich content. Thank you for such distilled and valuable content. Just yesterday I said I didn't know what SlideShare is. Now I know. Here's an off-beat traffic source #551 not mentioned yet: Free off-line advertising. Have your blog URL and logo printed on magnetic signs (DL envelope size) and stick it on both sides of your car/family cars. Depending on how clogged your roads are, there'll be a few hundred more people see your blog address every week. We've done it for our solar website and get many comments.
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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.
This section is particularly helpful when looking at organic results from search engines, since it will let you know which search queries resulted in engaged traffic. Below is another example from a site that focuses on electronic components. Overall, the Google organic source was well behind the site average, but some specific search queries were actually performing better than average.
Hi SEO 4 Attorneys, it could be any thing is this for your site for a clients site.It could be an attempt at negative SEO from a competitor? The thing is people may try to push 100's of spammy links to a site in hopes to knock it down. In the end of the day my best advice is to monitor your link profile on a weekly basis. Try to remove negative links where possible if you cant remove them then opt for the disavow tool as a last resort. 
I just joined digg a few minutes ago. I gotta tell you that I have been researching on this topic for several months now. By far the best article I have come across on traffic generation. It's one of the most comprehensive ones I've read. And includes a variety of sources which never struck me before. I'm a musician and I plan on starting a blog and uploading videos soon. This is really going to help me a lot and I'm gonna follow. :) I really like the idea of using sites like wiki, about.com, scribd etc...

We are using automated methods and search engine marketing methods to provide you with visits to your links. Our algorithm is using public search services, we are not affiliated with the search engine companies in any way. RealVisits.org will not accept websites that contain or promote Illegal, adult or offensive content. We reserve the right to reject any website that we feel does not meet our standards. There is no risk of getting your Page banned or penalized by Google and it is 100% AdSense safe. We are selling our services only for business marketing purposes. By purchasing and using our services, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.
Direct traffic is people who type your URL into their navigation bar, or who use a bookmark. These are your regular visitors, people who’ve discovered you in some other way and are now coming back, and — less now than in the past — people who type in a URL they’ve seen on your offline ads or who guess your web address based on your company name. Direct traffic is often the highest converting kind, but it can also be regular blog readers or your own staff. Filter your workers out if at all possible to keep your data clean. If you can’t filter them, at least ask them to use direct methods (rather than search, for example) and you may be able to identify it when you work in Analytics. Any traffic that Google can’t identify will also show up in Direct traffic, and that can include ads if you haven’t hooked up your ad accounts with your analytics, email or SMS campaigns if you haven’t tagged them for Google, and other sources that aren’t identified. Tag well and you’ll see less of this.

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 only used a smaller quantity of very high-quality link building each month. So, for example we only built 40 of the best links each month to supplement the work we were doing on the content marketing front. We also invested heavily into tracking competitor backlink profiles, using Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. We worked out how the competitor's acquired specific backlinks, then by using outreach and content creation we obtained these links.
Well as noted in the post it is not just above the links that was only one key part of a wider strategy. This website in question has deep levels of content. So it is not just about a blog section, they have numerous high quality content sections we have developed over time. It would not be advisable ever to attack competitors sites with low quality links.
Hey Caroline, that is one of the great things, being included like that. Happened to me once, when my favorite blogger asked a question on her FB page and then included the testimonials in one of the pages. So not only did I get a dofollow link from a site that is Alexa less than 5.000 but I was so happy to be featured on her blog. Thanks for the awesome comment and I would love some feedback in a week or so, when the first results come in :)
Implementing structured data markup (such as that from schema.org) might seem like a one-time project, but that “set it and forget it” mentality can land you in hot water. You should be monitoring the appearance of your rich snippets on a regular basis to ensure they are pulling in the correct information. As you change the content on your website, this can alter the markup without warning.
Once you receive a response, it’s time to hand over the list of links and suggest your content. But remember: this isn’t a time to pitch! Instead, your response should aim to point out your content, and suggest that it might make a good addition to their page if they want to add it. By employing this method, the site owner will be far more likely to include your link as a thanks for pointing out their broken links.

If you’ve recently modified your on-page copy, undergone a site overhaul (removing pages, reordering the navigation) or migrated your site sans redirects, it’s reasonable to expect a decline in traffic. After reworking your site content, Google must re-crawl and then re-index these pages. It’s not uncommon to experience unstable rankings for up to a few weeks afterwards.

Wow, great post, Brankica!!! I've used Flickr in the past and while I haven't gotten much traffic from it, I've gotten a ton of backlinks. Like there's this one photo in particular that I tagged as "SEO" and included a link in the description back to the blog post I used the photo in. I guess there are lots of autoblogs that scrape stuff like SEO-related images, and since they scrape the description, too, I get lots of automatic backlinks. Sure, they're crappy backlinks, but still backlinks :)

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. 
The amount of e-commerce platforms and online stores are growing yearly. But do we really know how the leading retailers become leaders? What efforts need to be made to execute an effective online strategy? How to do first things first and sort everything out in order? SEMrush conducted an e-commerce study to answer these questions, along with many others. We analyzed...

If you don’t want your Google traffic dropped dramatically due to indexing and content pruning, we are going to list below the steps you need to take in order to successfully prune your own content. We’ve developed this subject in a previous blog post.  Yet, before doing so, we want to stress on the fact that it’s not easy to take the decision of removing indexed pages from the Google Index and, if handled improperly, it may go very wrong. Yet, at the end of the day,  you should keep the Google Index fresh with info that is worthwhile to be ranked and which helps your users. 
Although it may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, the data still seem to hold true. Organic is simply better for delivering relevant traffic. The only channel that performs better in some capacities is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions, not overall traffic delivery (Paid Search only accounted for 10 percent of overall total traffic).

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.
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.
You know, a lot of blog posts promise to show you how to grow your blog and bring traffic in. And then they go and copy/paste a bunch of other bloggers, change two or three words, and then publish. Then wonder why no-one read, commented or shared. Somehow I don't think you'll have this problem, Brankica - this is one of the most solid pieces on traffic generation around. Great stuff, miss, and something every blogger can take something away from.

Referral traffic in Google Analytics can also include your social traffic or even your email visits. This is largely because there are different ways to track data and there are imperfections in the system, but it also depends on which reports you look at. For example, Acquisition> All channels> Referrals will include much of your social traffic, but the default All channels report does not include Social in your Referrals. The best solutions:
To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
In order to get the whole bundle of internal links for your website, in the same Search Console, you need to go to the Search Traffic > Internal Links category. This way you’ll have a list with all the pages from your website (indexed or not) and also the number of links pointing to each. This can be a great incentive for discovering which pages should be subject to content pruning.
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.

Google measures average time on site by first collecting each visitor’s exact time on a particular page. Imagine that a visitor lands on page 1 of your site. Google places a cookie, including a unique code for the visitor and a time stamp. When that visitor clicks through to page 2 of your site, Google again notes the time, and then subtracts the time that the visitor arrived at page 2 from the time that the visitor arrived at page 1. Google then averages each and every page’s time spent to get the average time each visitor spends on the site.
IMDB: This site is #1 when it comes to movies and TV shows. Getting a link from IMDB can be worth a ton of value, but they don’t link out to just anyone. However, that’s not reliable or even plausible for most people. Instead, you need to turn to the one location you’re free to post; the IMDB forums. These forums have a huge audience and narrow topics, and like Reddit or web forums in general, they can be great places to show your expertise, link to your content, and promote deals.

One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).
You are giving some great advice to use for increasing readership and loyal followers. I am trying to include 2-3 sources from each of your list categories so that I have a balanced approach to increasing traffic. Right now I am learning Stumble Upon and Squido.com. Although I submit articles to Ezine, I think my keywords are not strong enough to get a good click through rate. I am getting better about writing articles with strong keywords now; sort of fell off the pace of that when I started using a lot of guest authors :( Thanks for your great insights and check list for increasing traffic, Brankica!
While it’s best to create a custom dimension for filtering out bots, applying the generic bot filter is a good place to start. It’s important to note that filters cannot be applied retroactively, so if you’ve recently turned on this feature, you should be receiving less traffic. Additionally, double-check that you are filtering out your own traffic and IP address.
This traffic source comes from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Remember, paid search ads or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising are not included within this source category. If you choose to run a paid advertising campaign for your business, it will not affect your website’s ranking within an organic search. Organic search is obtained through natural placement on search engine results, without paying for it, through search engine optimization best practices.
Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:
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