Traffic coming from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is free, while traffic generated from PPC (Pay Per Click) ads is not free. PPC ads are displayed above organic search results or on the sidebar of search engine pages for search queries related to their topic. Landing page keywords, ad keywords, CPC (cost per click) bids, and targeting all influence how those ads are “served” or displayed on the page.
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.

Interviews can be a source of some decent traffic, both in giving and hosting them. On the giving side, you’re building your reputation and you’re gaining links, as the places who interview you publish a link to you as their source. On the hosting side, you publish links to influencers you interview, who have a decent chance of linking to you as a “check out this interview I did” comment somewhere. They have an interest in promoting it, after all.
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.

You might remember “Face Off” , a movie from ‘97 where Nicolas Cage is a terrorist and John Travolta is an FBI agent. And, as it happens in movies, they became obsessed with one another. Travolta needs information from Cage’s brother, so he undergoes an operation in which he gets Cage’s face; a few plot twists later and Cage has Travolta’s. They continue to pursue each other with new identities, the bad guy the good guy, the good guy the bad guy and so on and (almost) no one knew who is who. Dizzy yet?
So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.
Once you’ve identified a relevant keyword target, add in it — but don’t stuff the page. Only use additional keywords where it makes sense. Don’t forget to hyperlink these keywords to other relevant blog posts you’ve written, and incorporate them into headings and sub headers for increased SEO oomph. If you need some additional help here, check out our guide on how to write a blog post that ranks well (and converts!).
Hi Brankica, wow what an extensive list. As a one-month old blogger this list is overwhelming so there were four things I have noted and will look into further are stumbleupon, digg, roundups and vark. I hope to implement them soon and will keep track of the results. As for the other sources, I will come back to this post to see what other sources to use next. I am curious to know from your experience, what are the Top 10 most effective traffic sources?
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.
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.
Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.

Talk about a blog post that's worth bookmarking and reading over and over!! Nicely done Sharp Shooter. There are just too many here that I don't even think of looking at (and even a few I've never heard of) and now I'm feeling kinda silly that I have all these resources to take advantage of and I don't. I'm just gonna have to count on you to remind me and give me a good kick in the toosh every so often lol! This is beyond useful Brankica. I hope I'll smarten up and take some of your awesome advice here! Thanks for writing this up for us. You rock "Mon..y" lol ;)
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).
If you’ve recently modified your on-page copy, undergone a site overhaul (removing pages, reordering the navigation) or migrated your site sans redirects, it’s reasonable to expect a decline in traffic. After reworking your site content, Google must re-crawl and then re-index these pages. It’s not uncommon to experience unstable rankings for up to a few weeks afterwards.
Facebook ads are a great way to get highly targeted traffic to your blog (landing page, fan page, what ever). Although not a free traffic source, it is a great one. The price is not very high and I think it is pretty acceptable considering that you can choose demographics of Facebook users that will see your ad. I had great success getting traffic that converts on one of my niche sites.

As a website owner it's important to regularly review your streams of traffic. You want to be in the know if any channels are growing or declining at an unusual rate, especially when it comes to your organic traffic. So if you're interested in learning more about how we can help you increase the amount of daily visits your website receives feel free to contact us for more information about our white hat SEO services.
Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.

Hey Sheila, I think offline marketing can work amazing, as long as the URL is catchy and easy to remember, as you say. I am sorry that I messed up some people's plans of blog development with these new traffic generation ideas, but if they get some results from it, I am sure gonna be glad! Thanks for the comment and hope to hear some good feedback from you :)


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.
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