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.

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.
Fantastic post Tom! There's a lot of confusion on direct traffic to begin with. These are even more finer nuances that you have explained. I have a client whose top source of traffic is direct, and part of it is maybe due to the fact that they don't do any promotion, and it's mostly shared around internally within their team. But I just noticed that their URL is http and not https so this might be something for me to take back to the team. Thanks!
Thank you Jayne, for doing all that voting and sharing, means the world to me! I am glad you saw some new ideas and looking at all the comments, I think I killed a really bug tree with this post, that is how many people want to print it out, lol. If at any point of time you get stuck with one of these, send me an e-mail, tweet, what ever and I will try to help you with extra ideas :)
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!
For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 
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.
Forum comments work much the same way as blog comments, except you tend to lack the base post from which to play off. Instead, you need to invest some time into getting to know the culture of the forum, the prominent users, the rules, and the discussion flow. If people generally post one sentence at a time, adding a 3,000 word post will be excessive and may be mocked. If people tend to post lengthy discussions, short posts may have a negative effect. And, like Reddit, some sites may be very rabid about enforcing no advertising.
Blog comments have a number of sources of value, and traffic is just one of them. By monitoring your competitors and your betters, you get a keen sense of what the industry is doing and where trends are going. You leave valuable comments and people take notice, including industry influencers and possibly the owners of these top-tier sites. You create a gateway back to your site, and even though the links are nofollowed, they’re still links for people to click. You also build a personal reputation as a commenter around your industry, raising sentiment and value.
So, you have downloaded your links profiles on a CSV and you now have an extensive list of all your linked domains. If you have been doing SEO for 8+ years like me you can probably just know from analysis which links are bad from a TLD and URL point of view. If you do not know too much you can use tools such as Link Detox: http://www.linkdetox.com/ to complete analysis of your link profile. I would always consult the advice of an expert SEO in this instance because it is easy for these tools to mistake good and bad links.
Once you've set up an alert within Mention, go to your settings and then 'Manage Notifications'. From here you can select the option to get a daily digest email of any mentions (I'd recommend doing this). You also have the option of getting desktop alerts - I personally find them annoying, but if you really want to stay on the ball then they could be a good idea.
11th point to me would be too look at your social media properties, work out how you can use them to assist your SEO strategy. I mean working on competitions via social channels to drive SEO benefit to your main site is great, working on re-doing your YouTube videos to assist the main site and also working on your content sharing strategy via these social sites back to the main site.
In all of the above cases, you’ve potentially found a page on your website that could turn into a keyword monster with a little extra content and keyword integration. Although we’ve discussed blog posts in this guide, don’t completely overlook the other pages on your website – these tips will work to increase organic traffic on all pages, not just individual blog posts.
Comments need special attention to be successful, though. Generally, you will have strict rules to follow. You can’t simply leave a “this was great, hey check out my site” comment. It will either be filtered for spam or it will be ignored. You need an insightful, detailed, and helpful message. You need to expand upon the topic in the post, argue against it, or support it with your own data. The point is to be valuable and attract positive attention.
As I said at the beginning of the article, more naturally earned backlinks, will help you get more organic traffic and improve SEO. You can suggest your readers to link back to your website by having a small widget at the bottom of your posts. Just as you have the social media sharing links, an embedded linking widget will increase the chances to get more backlinks.
I'm a IT Technician that has decided to take my knowledge of computer repair and maintenance online. So I made a blog about 2 months ago and I'm getting a small trickle of traffic a week. Most of those are from Yahoo! Answers. Twitter I just started using a few days ago and haven't got many followers yet. So It may not be the fastest methods but it's slowly working for me. I just need that surge of constant traffic flow. Thanks for the advice
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.
Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.
We used to like best to see a fairly balanced mix, back when there were mostly just three sources: Organic, Direct, and Referral. Organic Search traffic is a good sign of general site health, it’s usually the top source of conversions, and it generally shows great ROI. Direct traffic is often the people who love your site or are coming back to buy after they found you in some other way. These two groups of visitors are probably the ones that bring you the most sales or leads.
If your page is ranking for a keyword like “social media management,” you might want to look into similar long-tail keywords, such as “social media management pricing” or “social media management tools.” Chances are, adding in sections that address these subjects will be fairly easy. Additionally, by adding in a few extra long-tail keywords, you’ll have the added bonus of increasing the total keyword density of the page.
Good content is not enough anymore. Your articles have to be outstanding and must be much better than the one of your competitors. Don’t write just and useless articles just for the sake of publishing something new. Instead, concentrate on quality and make your content stand out from the crowd. The competition is increasing as we speak, and quality will be the only way to succeed.
This is a fantastic list! I thought I had it covered, but I'm only half way there. I can't wait to tackle some of these. It can all get overwhelming at times, because there's so much information and so many resources out there. I would like to take advantage of Facebook and Google ads, but I'm not sure if they'll be worth the investment when compared to everything else out there. I just started guest posting, I have three due this weekend. And I'm going to start writing articles for Biznik.com - which is a great site and has put me in touch with loads of local people. Love it. The forums is an area that I just recently started dancing around it and I'm still finding my way. Thanks for sharing this great information.
Understanding where your site visitors come from is an integral part of any marketing strategy. Your website is the heart of your digital marketing practices, with traffic acting as the blood. No traffic means your website can’t do anything for your business; knowing the different kinds of traffic and how they play into your website gives you the power to make educated decisions on how to improve your marketing practices.
Wow, what a massive post Brankica! I love it. :) I especially liked your suggestion to answer questions on answer sites. I've tried Yahoo Answers before, though didn't do much with it. I'll definitely give it another go in the future though! Man, just when I was tidying up my to-do list, you had to make it longer for me. ;) Thanks for such an awesome read! By the way, I found this post on StumbleUpon (crazy how the world works). =p Christina
Direct traffic can encompass a wide range of sources, including those you would have liked to have tracked in analytics. A drop in traffic from a particular source does not necessarily mean a drop in traffic. It could indicate a case in which that source ended up being categorized under Direct traffic. The best advice is - proactively use tracking parameters in cases where you may be risking not properly seeing traffic. There is actually a nice infographic showing the main factors impacting traffic. I use it sometimes to solve the current issues. Taking the right steps to address potentially miscategorized traffic, as well as being upfront with clients about the causes, can help to mitigate problems.
Optimise for your personas, not search engines. First and foremost, write your buyer personas so you know to whom you’re addressing your content. By creating quality educational content that resonates with you>r ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO. This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries. Optimising for search engines alone is useless; all you’ll have is keyword-riddled nonsense.
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