Remember when you used to rely solely on search engines for traffic? Remember when you worked on SEO and lived and died by your placement in Google? Were you #1? Assured success. Well, okay, maybe not assured. Success only came if the keywords were relevant to your site users, but it was the only real roadmap to generating site traffic and revenue.

The most common way a user can arrive at your website is by typing the URL into the address bar. This is known as direct traffic. Your visitor arrives directly without coming from anywhere else on the web. Other forms of direct traffic include clicking on a bookmark, or links from documents that don’t include tracking variables (such as PDFs or Word documents).
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!
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.

You could get even more specific by narrowing it down to customer base. Is there a specific group of clients you tend to serve? Try including that in your long-tail key phrase. For example: “SEO agency for non-profits in Albuquerque NM.” That’s a key phrase you’re a lot more likely to rank for. Not to mention it will also attract way more targeted, organic traffic than a broad key phrase like “SEO agency.”
As we mentioned before, when someone finds your site via a link on a social network, they'll be bucketed under social media as a traffic source. This could include someone tweeting out a link, or it could include you posting a link to your Facebook page. If it's you doing the posting, you can also add a tracking token before posting to track those links as part of a larger campaign for you to analyze later!
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
The "Direct Session" dimension, not to be confused with the default channel grouping or source dimension, is something different. It can tell you if a session was genuinely from its reported campaign (reported as No), or if it was simply bucketed there due to the last non-direct click attribution model (reported as Yes). I didn't mention this dimension in the article because it has some flaws which can cause brain bending complexities, plus it goes a little beyond the scope of this article, which I tried to gear more towards marketers and non-expert GA users. It's certainly an interesting one, though.
Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.
Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.  
×