Kristine Schachinger has 17 years digital experience including a focus on website design and implementation, accessibility standards and all aspects of website visibility involving SEO, social media and strategic planning. She additionally specializes in site health auditing, site forensics, technical SEO and site recovery planning especially when involving Google algorithms such as Penguin and Panda. Her seventeen years in design and development and eight years in online marketing give her a depth and breadth of understanding that comes from a broad exposure to not only digital marketing, but the complete product lifecycle along with the underlying technology and processes. She is a well known speaker, author and can be found on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.
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!

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


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.
The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.[1]

For our client: We were lucky enough to remove most from the prior agency outreach, we also went directly to many webmasters in which we wanted to remove links. We did not use the Disavow tool as it was not around when we completed this link cleanup, but we all know it has been said that if you are going to use the Disavow Tool to use it with caution.

If you check out some of the suggestions below this though, you're likely to find some opportunities. You can also plug in a few variations of the question to find some search volume; for example, I could search for "cup of java" instead of "what is the meaning of a cup of java" and I'll get a number of keyword opportunities that I can align to the question.
But now, that is all changing. We can still see all of that information ... sometimes. Things got a whole heck of a lot more complicated a little over a year ago, when Google introduced SSL encryption . What does that mean? It means Google started encrypting keyword data for anyone conducting a Google search while logged in to Google. So if you're logged in to, say, Gmail when you do a search, the keyword you used to arrive on a website is now encrypted, or hidden. So if that website drilled down into its organic search traffic source information, they'd see something like this:

If we are managing any SEO project for a long time, then it is our responsibility that we should analyze our track record and modify required changes in every 6-7 months according to organic traffics, keyword search volume, ranking position, landing page metrics, INSTEAD of comparison these points after loosing our ranking position and organic traffic.

Many bloggers don’t get time to maintain their blog frequency thus search engine bots also don’t like such blogs much. It is not that tough to maintain blog frequency, just need to be bit organized. But writing post frequently doesn’t mean that you write articles not related to your niche. Always write article related to your niche and take care about keywords.
By using the Content Assistant feature of Cognitive SEO, I’ve included the majority of the suggested keywords by the tool on the content assets we’re aiming to increase in organic visibility.  I’ve also restructured the underperforming content and added new sections – to make the inclusion of the suggested key phrases more logical, natural and create relevant content.

Looking back at our lab site, we can see that Organic Search is doing well for us. However, if we put a little effort into social media, we’d probably see growth in that sector — and a bigger pie. We’ve got some strong referrals (and high quality links that improve our search presence), but if we put some work into building more of those links, we’d probably see more referral traffic and, again, a bigger pie. Should we add paid search? For this site, no. It’s part of our community service and has little revenue potential, so we wouldn’t see much ROI from ads.
Hey, Kevin, love connecting with people and more then happy to tell you that my user name is brankica81 I will sometimes just stumble for fun and thumb up the pages I like. That is how I got a high number of favorites. The good thing is, that once I started using SU to promote my blog (just occasionally) my discoveries were valued more. I am actually a pretty fair user, I never thumb up something just to have higher numbers. Great thing is to have a friend with high number of stumbles, that can sky rocket your post, happened to me the other day as well. Paper.li is still new (for me) and I can see a lot of potential in it.
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. 
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.

I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.

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.

Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.


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.

At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.


Great article! SEM Rush's new ranking study of 600,000 search queries showed a positive correlation between direct traffic and top rankings. They indicated that Google prioritizes domains with authority and consequently more direct traffic when ranking websites in its search results. See their study here: https://www.semrush.com/ranking-factors/. So, direct traffic can be viewed as a positive ranking correlation.
If your site gets most of its traffic from Paid Search, you should ask yourself the same kinds of questions. Is this because you have decided to use aggressive advertising to give your business a nice big push? Is the paid search bringing in plenty of sales for your healthy website? If so, that’s great; this strategy can be seen with some large successful companies. If it’s because you are unsuccessful with organic search so you’re doing paid search instead, you’d probably get a good return on investment if you optimize your website. Typically, the Paid Search results stay about the same, but the Organic Search increases and so do sales.

Organic traffic is a special kind of referral traffic, defined as visitors that arrive from search engines. This is what most marketers strive to increase. The higher you rank for certain keywords, the more often your search result appears (increasing your impressions), ultimately resulting in more visitors (aka clicks). It’s also important to note that paid search ads are not counted in this category.
Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.
Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media's General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.
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.

That's way easier to do when you understand what all the things you're measuring actually mean. The first place I always start when evaluating a business' marketing is figuring out where the heck all their site traffic, leads, and customers come from. But it occurred to me -- if you don't even know what all those channels mean or how they're bucketed as traffic sources to your website -- it's probably pretty hard for you to start that self-evaluation.
Hey Matt, thank you so much for such a great compliment. I had my head spinning when I started pulling up all the traffic sources for this post. I tried them all and recommend everyone to do it. But definitely not at once, lol. It would be great to choose one or two and try them out. Every niche is a story for itself and I am sure one of these sources you haven't tried before can bring great traffic to you.

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).


And although livescience.com has way more links than its competitor, it seems that emedicinehealth.com is performing better for a lot of important keywords. Why, you might wonder. Well, the answer is simple: content. And although they are both offering good content, livescience.com is a site offering general information about a lot of things while emedicinehealth.com offers articles highly related to the topics, leaving the impression that this site really offers reliable content. We are not saying that the 5 mil links livescience.com has do not matter, yet it seems that in some cases content weighs more.
On the other hand, structured data are also a real asset to increase your organic traffic and improve your CTR. They refers to values that help search engines categorize and index your content in a creative ways for the user. While there is no direct correlation between those data and a SEO improvement, structured data can really help you boost your visibility in SERPs.

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. 
Though a long break is never suggested, there are times that money can be shifted and put towards other resources for a short time. A good example would be an online retailer. In the couple of weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays, you are unlikely to get more organic placement than you already have. Besides, the window of opportunity for shipping gifts to arrive before Christmas is ending, and you are heading into a slow season.
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.
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!
This was awesome! Holy moly! THIS type of post is definitely worth bookmarking and coming back to :) Number 51? Find Brankica and hire her for free to be your publicist!! :P LOL. You really covered pretty much all of the main traffic methods, I can't really think of much of anything else! Hmmm... maybe email list building? Like partnering up with someone else who has a list and swapping opt-in ads? Lots of people do that to get more subscribers! So, that could be another traffic method as well. :) GREAT POST! I'll try to remember to tweet this one a few times this week!
Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
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