If you’ve done all of this, and you’re still not getting the traction you’re looking for… you may need to take a closer look at the other aspects of your digital marketing strategy. Are you using creative content marketing ideas to send positive signals to search engines about your content? Are you leveraging your social media accounts to send a steady stream of traffic to targeted pages? What’s your backlinking strategy? Are you using tools like HARO to earn valuable backlinks to your optimized content? Each of these is one piece of the puzzle, and a fully developed strategy always produces the strongest results.
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.
Love the five different area of investigation that you went over, great way to analyze and diagnosis the issue. I would also definitely agree doing a rankings comparison between the two time frames, and not only check what your Google ranking is, but also track the search volume for your keywords to see if it has fluctuated or gone down. Google Trends is a great tool for this as well, as one of your keywords that your ranking for may have just lost popularity online.

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.


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
Man I need to sleep after reading all this. Just thinking about doing all these is making me tired! Also reading all the stuff I'm *not* doing is embarrassing me. I've found that forum posting works great if you're really into the niche. If you're just there for the links it becomes a chore and people can tell. I've never thought about submitting images to Reddit. I see a lot of traffic coming in from Google Images, so I should probably give it a shot. This is a bad-ass post, Brankica!
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.

Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.


No one wants to work harder than they have to – and why should they? Why pour five hours into Plan A when Plan B takes half the time and can be twice as effective? While that might seem like common sense, many companies waste a lot of time churning out new website content, when they should be revamping their existing blog posts and landing pages instead in order to increase organic traffic.
Danny, thank you so much. I always blush when I get some nice compliment like this, from you, cause you are definitely one of my blogging heroes :) I really appreciate that you took the time to write this comment and share the post. I try to write about stuff I tried and tested, good or bad, and I hope I won't ever end up in that "copy/paste" group of bloggers. Again, thank you and comments like these make me just wanna push forward :)
WOW Brankica, cannot believe that you also includes Craigslist.org on your list! What a great post, indeed. ;) Elise add #51 email list building, so I would add #52 rss feed submission, #53 review websites like resellerratings.com, reviewcentre.com, etc., #54 blog search engine like Technorati, plus I have about 40 video websites where you can upload and share your video like break.com, blip.tv. Good luck with the contest. ;)
You can apply this to marketing in a few ways. If, for example, you purchase paid search advertising, you’ll want to make sure those “CPC” sources have generally low bounce rates. If a pay-per-click or cost-per-click campaign has a high bounce rate (1) check your landing page to make sure that it provides the content promised in your ad, (2) check your ad copy to ensure it is clear, and (3) check your keywords.
That helped explain some of the organic traffic loss, but knowing that this client had gone through a few website redesigns, I wanted to make sure that all redirects were done properly. Regardless of whether or not your traffic has changed, if you’ve recently done a website redesign where you’re changing URLs, it’s smart to look at your top organic landing pages from before the redesign and double check to make sure they’re redirecting to the correct pages.
Input your post’s url into SEMrush to discover the keywords that it’s already ranking for. Are you ranking just off the first page of the SERPs for any specific keywords that have a high search volume? Take a look at keywords which are ranking in positions 2-10 and try optimizing for these first — moving from third to first position for a term with high search volume can drastically increase organic traffic. Plus, it’s easier to bump a page up the SERPs when it’s already ranking for that keyword.
I am actually using a free service called Cloud:flood created by Glen of the ViperChill. I had great success with it, making a file available for download (I shared a list of 140 blogs worth following). It has two options, a person can RT the download that will take new people to a post where the download is (or what ever landing page you want them to come to) or they can share it on Facebook instead of tweeting it.
Hey Marcus, thank you so much. Hearing all the compliments make me wish I made a list of 100 traffic sources :) I don't think anyone would publish it though...too much work, lol. I hope everyone will use it and find some fresh traffic for their blogs, most of these sources will work for any blog but some will work better for specific niches. Thanks for sharing and appreciate the comment!
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.
Let’s say that you want to move your blog from a subdirectory URL (yourwebsiterulz.com/blog) to a subdomain (blog.yourwebsiterulz.com). Although Matt Cutts, former Google engineer, said that “they are roughly equivalent and you should basically go with whichever one is easier for you in terms of configuration, your CMSs, all that sort of stuff”, it seems that things are a bit more complicated than that. 
Putting it simple, duplicate content is content that appears on the world wide web in more than one place. Is this such a big problem for the readers? Maybe not. But it is a very big problem for you if you are having duplicate content (internally or externally) as the search engines don’t know which version of the content is the original one and which one they should be ranking.
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.

Hey Mavis, thanks for that :) I wrote down all the ideas from the comments as well so there are at least 65 ideas now, lol. I just wish we all had more time in a day to really work on all of them. I guess all that testing and tracking comes now so we can focus on the best for our blogs. But do I even need to say how much I hate testing and tracking.
Wow, great post, Brankica!!! I've used Flickr in the past and while I haven't gotten much traffic from it, I've gotten a ton of backlinks. Like there's this one photo in particular that I tagged as "SEO" and included a link in the description back to the blog post I used the photo in. I guess there are lots of autoblogs that scrape stuff like SEO-related images, and since they scrape the description, too, I get lots of automatic backlinks. Sure, they're crappy backlinks, but still backlinks :)
In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.
Visual assets aren’t regular images you might pull from a Google Image search. Instead, these are unique diagrams or infographics you’ve created specifically for your epic content. These kinds of diagrams or infographics explain a theory, communicate a point, or showcase data in exciting and interesting ways—and gain attention (and links) because of it.
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.
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.

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Search engines (especially Google) are unpredictable. No matter how adept you are at using the AdWords keyword planner or how targeted your SEO strategy is, you can never be completely sure which of your blog posts or even your landing pages will perform the best — and which keywords they’ll rank for when they do. You’ve got to hit publish, then wait to see how the results shake out over time (and it can take months for a post to gain, or not gain, the traction you’re looking for).
It works in a similar way as a canonical tag does to show when a duplicate version of a page exists. But in this case, it helps Google index local content easier within local search engines. It also helps to pass trust across sites and improve the way Google crawls these pages. To know more about how errors you should not make when it comes to hreflang tags, you can check our previous article.
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 ;)
Those two ideas are great. I didn't know you are allowed to post links to you Amazon reviews! That is great to know, I already have some ideas in my head about this :) QR codes are definitely something to start using ASAP, too. With all the new gadgets and technology being developed, the sooner you start using it, the better results we can get :) Thanks for such an awesome comment!
Buy brasilian search traffic visitors from Google.com.br for 30 days – We will send real brasilian visitors to your site using Google.com.br's search field with your keywords to improve your SERP CTR and SEO strategy. All visitors will be shown as organic traffic in your Google Analytics. Having a constant in organic web traffic is imperative in order to maintain your rankings and minimize the risk of dropping in the SERP's. So, don't wait use our Google Brasil Web Traffic Service today …
Google doesn't always include a whole paragraph of text in the Featured Snippet. If you add "Step 1," "Step 2," "Step 3," etc. to the start of each HTML heading within your content (for example, within your H2 tags), Google will sometimes just list out your headings within the Featured Snippet. I've started to see this happen more and more in keywords beginning with "how to".
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.
Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.

We used to like best to see a fairly balanced mix, back when there were mostly just three sources: Organic, Direct, and Referral. Organic Search traffic is a good sign of general site health, it’s usually the top source of conversions, and it generally shows great ROI. Direct traffic is often the people who love your site or are coming back to buy after they found you in some other way. These two groups of visitors are probably the ones that bring you the most sales or leads.
Connect with people you know and they will see your updates. If you are a good writer and post great content, you will receive traffic from them. You can generate traffic by joining LinkedIn groups and helping people in your niche by pointing them to your relevant posts. Besides groups, there is an answers section. Answer questions the best you can and point people to relevant links (your blog).
Very often, display advertising stands at the beginning of the customer’s journey, and with this type of ad you can target a much broader audience during the inspiration/awareness phase and create attention for your brand thanks to targeted placement. It is also one of the cheapest ways to increase brand awareness. Just going off of the Google Display Network alone (which SEMrush provides data on), it reaches approximately 92 percent of all internet user and 65 percent of those users are reached daily.
Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.
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.
Organic Search is visitors who reach you by Googling or using another search engine which Google recognizes as a real search engine — mostly Bing and its second string, Yahoo. People using other search engines like DuckDuckGo or sites which are now commonly used as search engines but which have other purposes, like Pinterest, will show up in Referral traffic and in the case of Pinterest, in Social. If you have a good, well-optimized website, Organic Search will usually be your most frequent source. At our lab site, we do nothing to encourage other sources, so Organic Search is absolutely the top.
To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
Hey Michael, thanks so much for the comment. After this post, I decided to revamp my traffic generation strategy and work more on the existing sources and work a bit more on the ones I was not using that much. I saw results almost from the first day. This list is good because of the diversity of the ideas, cause if one thing doesn't work for you, there has to be another one that will sky rocket your stats :)
Danny, thank you so much. I always blush when I get some nice compliment like this, from you, cause you are definitely one of my blogging heroes :) I really appreciate that you took the time to write this comment and share the post. I try to write about stuff I tried and tested, good or bad, and I hope I won't ever end up in that "copy/paste" group of bloggers. Again, thank you and comments like these make me just wanna push forward :)
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.
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.
Understanding how people landed on your website is a key component of optimization. If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics (and if you haven’t you should), you’ve probably seen the words “Direct,” “Referral,” and “Organic” in relation to your traffic. These are the sources where your users come from — or what Google calls channels. But what do these words really mean, and why do they matter?
James, you give a great template for how a business needs to move forward in their chosen niche online.  Quite informative and the meeting of minds has been something a number of us have done online and in person to gain better insight into our small similar businesses.  Thank you for sharing your detailed approach to increasing organic traffic...content still is king.

Another key consideration is that social platforms have become search engines within themselves. Just look at Twitter, for example - you can use it to see what the biggest trending news of the day are and you can easily search for great content. You can search based on your location, in different languages and if you click on advanced search, there are even more options:
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.

You should definitely listen to than man. He knows what is working and that is why all the SBI sites are so successful (at least for those that actually apply his tips, lol). Not going to tell you what to do, but try other free sources before spending on Adwords. I actually think ADW is great for landing pages, where you are selling something that will make you a nice amount of money, but it is hard to get them to work if you are not an expert. Actually what I am trying to say is that if you are trying to just get more traffic, blog commenting would be much better. OK, all the free resources need time, but they can often convert better than others. PreSell and SEO the SBI way are a guarantee of a successful site (talking from experience here). Thanks for the comment and waiting for more feedback :)
Recent studies have found that upwards of 80% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now occurs via these private channels. In terms of numbers of active users, messaging apps are outpacing social networking apps. All the activity driven by these thriving platforms is typically bucketed as direct traffic by web analytics software.
Good question, for most directories I use they ask for mobile number to send a message of verification, for the ones which phone you for verification inform the company before hand to tell their customer service people to be ready. I know the bigger the company the more tricky these things get you just have to find out what works best to answer the calls even if they give you a direct number to use. 
About.com – How many times have you tried to do something and needed instructions? You Google it and it brings up how-tos from About.com. Well, you can contribute to this site with some of the how-tos for your niche and get traffic from it. Additional tip – there is an About.com Forum where you can be helpful to people in need and get additional traffic to your blog.
Hey Michael, thanks so much for the comment. After this post, I decided to revamp my traffic generation strategy and work more on the existing sources and work a bit more on the ones I was not using that much. I saw results almost from the first day. This list is good because of the diversity of the ideas, cause if one thing doesn't work for you, there has to be another one that will sky rocket your stats :)
Wow Brankica! I just don't know how I missed this awesome post :) I have just been going through it for quite sometime and finally bookmarked it for future reference whenever I need it- it is that good! Awesome indeed :) I loved the way you shared all the way you could get traffic and even though I am doing most of these things, there is so-so much more that I need to work on and change the way I look at some others. Thanks so much for sharing, and wishing you the best for the contest :)
Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a  element or HTTP header.

Organic search traffic used to just mean the amount of traffic that came to your site via someone who found your site using a search engine. Then, you could drill down into more detail to see which keyword they searched to get to your website. For example, we might learn that someone came to HubSpot.com by searching the keyword phrase "inbound marketing." This is important to know because it helps businesses understand which keywords are driving the most traffic, leads, and customers so they can develop better-informed content and keyword strategies.

If your page is ranking for a keyword like “social media management,” you might want to look into similar long-tail keywords, such as “social media management pricing” or “social media management tools.” Chances are, adding in sections that address these subjects will be fairly easy. Additionally, by adding in a few extra long-tail keywords, you’ll have the added bonus of increasing the total keyword density of the page.

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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