Lee Wilson is head of enterprise SEO at Vertical Leap and has been leading digital marketing teams since the early 2000’s. He has headed up the SEO department for a top 10 leading search and digital agency (Vertical Leap) from 2010 to present. In 2016, he had his first solely authored industry book published (Tactical SEO – the theory and practice of search marketing).

Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.

Hey Don, that is a great question and I will give you the overview. Now I have been trying these out for almost two years, for example Yahoo Answers was one of the first ones I tried and brought great results then. So first you need to decide which ones will you try and then track the results. I use Google Analytics to track the incoming traffic. So if I am focusing for example on blog commenting, I will note where I commented, how many times, etc and then see if those comments brought me any traffic. It depends a lot on the type of comment I make, the title of my ComLuv post, but you can still get some overview of how that traffic source is working for you. There are of course sources I discover "by chance". For example, in the last month Paper.li brought me 24 visitors, that spent more than 2 minutes on average on my blog. That is more than some blogs I comment on regularly bring me. So in this case, I will try to promote the paper.li a bit better and make it work for me. I will unfollow some people on Twitter that are not tweeting anything good so my paper.li chooses better posts hence better tweeps and get me exposed to them. A lot of them will RT my paper.li daily, so there is more potential of my content being shared. In case of the blog I mentioned, since none of the posts are becoming viral, the blogger is average, it is obviously not bringing me any traffic, I will start commenting less and work more on those that bring me more traffic. Now this is all great, except I get emotionally attached to blogs I read so I don't look at numbers like that :) But that is how you should track results. The main thing after reading this post is to choose up to 5 of these sources you feel comfortable with, work on them and track results. Keep those that work for you and ditch those that don't. It is a lot dependent on the niche you are in, too. I always try one source for up to a month, if there are no results in a month, I stop working on it and move to another one. If I didn't answer all you wanted to know, just ask additional questions, I am more than glad to help :)
You might see referral traffic coming from search engines like Google or Bing, a blog, newsletter, or email or social media sites like Facebook. Referrer traffic could be organic or through a paid search like cost-per-click (CPC) advertising or a paid advertising campaign that you have created (but in many cases, the paid advertising will show up in its very own Paid traffic type).
When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.
Hey Brankica, These are some great sources to get more traffic to your sites. I do agree with your arguments about answer sites and forums. Most of us, including myself, don't use these much, nowadays. I clearly don't know the reason. But I can tell you one thing : Some forums ban you if you promote your site (that depends upon what type of forum it is). Anyway, thank you for sharing the great resource ! And Best of luck with the contest :D I think you would probably win the contest :D (because you have useful posts). Jeevan Jacob John
Traffic from organic search is free and long-lasting, which makes you less dependent on advertising budgets. If you look at the list of the top three American e-commerce retailers, you will find that it matches the above data with the top three companies getting the most organic traffic. This definitely proves that SEO pays off in the long run: you attract quality traffic in large volumes without paying for it directly.

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


Brankica, what a valuable post you've contributed here! These are all great methods for driving traffic to your website. Here's two more suggestions: 1. Write Amazon reviews on products/books related to your website and sign those comments with your name, the name of your blog, and its URL. You can even do video reviews now and mention your blog as part of your qualifications to review a particular book or product. 2. QR codes on flyers. People can scan these with their phone and be sent directly to your blog. I'm seeing these all over the city lately linking to things like bus schedules, Foursquare pages, and what not. Once again, thanks for this post!
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.
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.
If you want to know how engaging your content is, you might look at bounce rates, average time on page and the number of pages visited per session to get an idea – and Google can do precisely the same. If a user clicks through to your site, quickly returns to the results page and clicks on another listing (called “pogo-sticking”), it suggests you haven’t provided what this person is looking for.
Great post, though http://www.blogcatalog.com that sends millions of visits a month to blogs and has an engaged community of bloggers from startup bloggers to pros should be on any list. BlogCatalog is the parent company of http://www.bloggersunite.org a site dedicated to harnessing the power of the blogosphere and another great site for bloggers to connect and get traffic and become more effective bloggers.
Brankica, Excellent list. The only one I could think of is mentioning through email to family and friends. Example: Hey Guys and Gals, Sorry I haven't been in touch for a while. I've been working my tail off building something I hope will be special. I would appreciate it if you could do me a huge favor. My blog is still new and I need some opinions on where it can improve. Let me know the good, bad and ugly:) Also, can you pass it along to some of your friends? The more opinions the better idea I have at what works and what doesn't. etc. Thanks for the post. Live it LOUD!
Visitors can also fall into the direct category by clicking a link to your site from an email or PDF document, accessing your site from a shortened URL (which is an abbreviated version of your website address), clicking on a link from a secured site to your non-secure site, or clicking on a link to your site from a social media application like Facebook or Twitter. And, there is a chance that accessing your site from an organic search can end up being reported as direct traffic.
Hey Don, that is a great question and I will give you the overview. Now I have been trying these out for almost two years, for example Yahoo Answers was one of the first ones I tried and brought great results then. So first you need to decide which ones will you try and then track the results. I use Google Analytics to track the incoming traffic. So if I am focusing for example on blog commenting, I will note where I commented, how many times, etc and then see if those comments brought me any traffic. It depends a lot on the type of comment I make, the title of my ComLuv post, but you can still get some overview of how that traffic source is working for you. There are of course sources I discover "by chance". For example, in the last month Paper.li brought me 24 visitors, that spent more than 2 minutes on average on my blog. That is more than some blogs I comment on regularly bring me. So in this case, I will try to promote the paper.li a bit better and make it work for me. I will unfollow some people on Twitter that are not tweeting anything good so my paper.li chooses better posts hence better tweeps and get me exposed to them. A lot of them will RT my paper.li daily, so there is more potential of my content being shared. In case of the blog I mentioned, since none of the posts are becoming viral, the blogger is average, it is obviously not bringing me any traffic, I will start commenting less and work more on those that bring me more traffic. Now this is all great, except I get emotionally attached to blogs I read so I don't look at numbers like that :) But that is how you should track results. The main thing after reading this post is to choose up to 5 of these sources you feel comfortable with, work on them and track results. Keep those that work for you and ditch those that don't. It is a lot dependent on the niche you are in, too. I always try one source for up to a month, if there are no results in a month, I stop working on it and move to another one. If I didn't answer all you wanted to know, just ask additional questions, I am more than glad to help :)
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.
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
Unfortunately, this particular client was fairly new, so as a result, their Moz campaign data wasn’t around during the high organic traffic times in 2015. However, if it was, a good place to start would be looking at the search visibility metric (as long as the primary keywords have stayed the same). If this metric has changed drastically over the years, it’s a good indicator that your organic rankings have slipped quite a bit.

Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll 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.
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.
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
Hey Ryan, thanks for including me, I will be over there to thank you as well :) I am glad you liked the post and definitely don't advice on getting into all of them at once, lol. I am the first one that would try all, but I learned that it is the wrong way to go in about anything. The best thing would be choosing one or two of these and tracking results. I learned that Flickr can take too much time for some types of blogs, while others will have great results with it. Depends on the niche a lot. But I know you will do the best thing, you always do! Thanks for the comment and helping me in the contest!
Brankica, Gooooood...ness! Where to start giving you props on this VERY well developed post. Absolutely brilliant. You have covered so much, so many areas and done it extremely well. Two items that grabbed me the most, as I have commented time and again about where I got my blogging start, and that is through freelance writing. So, I have always limited myself by using this form of media. Video / photo journalism are brilliant forms of communication, but I've always said, "Ah, that's for someone else..." And I noticed that you lightly touched on e-zines (article submissions). These will become viable again as they make adjustments. Anyway, I could go on forever. Again, you have done a fantastic job with this post. All the best, Bryan
Mobile traffic: In the Groupon experiment mentioned above, Groupon found that both browser and device matter in web analytics’ ability to track organic traffic. Although desktops using common browsers saw a smaller impact from the test (10-20 percent), mobile devices saw a 50 percent drop in direct traffic when the site was de-indexed. In short, as mobile users grow, we are likely to see direct traffic rise even more from organic search traffic.
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