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."
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!
This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.
This community is full of opportunities if you're a fashion-based retailer. One of the major advantages is the fact that they add links to each of the products that they feature within their outfits - the links go directly to product pages. This is the holy grail for ecommerce SEO, and the traffic those links will bring through will convert at a very high rate.
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.
Hi, thanks for your comment. When you refer to incognito browsing, I think it's important to clarify that referrer data *is* passed between sites. Click on a link whilst in incognito, and the referrer header is passed as usual. The exception is if you're browsing normally, and then opt to open a specific link in incognito mode - this won't pass referrer data.
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."
BuzzFeed: Everyone knows the primary perpetrator of Clickbait and content appropriation on the web, but seemingly few people realize that anyone can write for them. You can sign up for a free account here, and simply start creating content on their site. There’s a lot of content that sees very little exposure on the site, but if something does catch on – perhaps because of your audience and your brand reputation – BuzzFeed will reach out to you and help by promoting it on the main sections of their site.
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.
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.
This, of course, if you do care about your organic traffic and your overall inbound marketing strategy and you don’t want to make a mess out of them. The truth is that Google has so many rules and algorithms for scoring a website and that the SERP is so volatile that it’s nearly impossible to predict which site will have the best organic traffic and from what exact reasons.
Who are you man!? You better be back here till tomorrow and give me number 51 or you will be doing push ups for the rest of your blogging life!!! RLMAO Hey Steve, thanks so much for the comment and I am glad that there is someone after all that is getting all the traffic his webhost can take! I am already thinking of how to enter your Webmaster tools and redirect your whole blog to mine... thinking, thinking, thinking.... Thanks for the RT and love having you as my blogging friend!
Ezinearticles.com, although hit by the new Google algorithm, it is a great source of highly targeted traffic. The bounce rate of visitors I get from EZA is always less than 20%! Choosing a good keyword for an article can result in incredible amounts of traffic. I have been receiving a lot of traffic from a single well written article for a year and a half now!
However, this may not be the case for your company or your clients. You may start by looking at keyword rankings, and realize that you’re no longer ranking on the first page for ten of your core keywords. If that’s the case, you quickly discovered your issue, and your game plan should be investing in your core pages to help get them ranking again for these core keywords.
hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
The thing about SEO in 2018 is that Google changes its algorithms more than once a day! Reports say that the company changes its algorithms up to 600 times a year. While the majority of those updates consist of smaller changes, among them is the occasional, major update like Hummingbird or Panda that can really wreak havoc with your traffic and search rankings.

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.  
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