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?
Referral means people clicked on a link somewhere else. This can be email or social, but is mostly links on other websites. If you switch the view in the Channels pie chart to Sources/Mediums, as we did for the screenshot below, you can see your most important links. For our lab site, Pinterest is major, as are Google’s educators’ sites and several homeschool sites. We can click on Acquisitions> Referrals to see more. Referral traffic can be a little confusing because it overlaps with Email and Social; more on that later.
According to our data, twenty-three out of the twenty-five largest retailers use Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are cost-per-click ads that are purchased through AdWords to promote products. Google initially launched Product Listing Ads in the US market in 2011. However, the advertising format experienced an astronomical rise around 2014, when the search engine launched the feature in other countries. Today, PLAs account for 43 percent of all retail ad clicks and a staggering 70 percent of non-branded clicks!
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.

To give you an idea of just how much money is being spent on paid search, take a look at Google. Google's AdWords program is the most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program available today. While the tech giant owns YouTube and Android, among hundreds of other profitable brands, AdWords accounts for roughly 70% of their revenue -- which speaks wonders for its effectiveness.
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.
Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed "results" on search engine results pages (SERPs) were ads, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results.[citation needed] The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, "results." So the qualifier "organic" was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.[citation needed]
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.
Thanks a lot for these info, sometimes I really like when I get so many info only in one page.. Sometimes I think that I should start using sites like Yahoo Answer and I think that I will at the end of the day and end up in sleepy mood and leave for next day which never comes.. :( You have told all the ideas I can think f so I can't suggest No.51, Sorry.. But you have given me lots of new idea Thanks a lot for that.. :)
Here is a common narrative that many e-tailers can relate to: You identified your “sweet spot” in the marketplace and know that charging above this threshold leads to price sensitivity. Your core products drive volume — which allows you to achieve amazing growth. Then, one day, your focus shifted. Maybe you stopped churning out iterations of your best sellers, or maybe you tried to focus on your higher-revenue products — all the while alienating the people who liked your previous offerings.
In short, press request alerts are requests for sources of information from journalists. Let's say you're a journalist putting together an article on wearable technology for The Guardian. Perhaps you need a quote from an industry expert or some products that you can feature within your article? Well, all you need to do is send out a request to a press service and you can wait for someone to get back to you.

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.


If you’re building your website from scratch, create your own templates for new pages and important elements so you don’t have to keep typing out the same code. Also make sure you’re familiar with dynamic web pages so you can edit elements like your website’s header in one place instead of having to make the same changes manually across every page.
The Forums – yes, I know some bloggers are telling you that you can not get anything from the Forums, but I can prove them wrong. One example: I met one of my dear blogging friends on a Forum way before I started blogging. She has been helping me since. Instead of struggling with some newbie mistakes, I skipped most of them and went straight for success. Most forums allow links in signatures – use it!
For an Agency like Aira, the speed of AccuRanker is a huge feature - the ability to do fast checks and instant refreshes on keywords means we can diagnose issues as and when they happen, during meetings or when on a client call. We love how quick Accuranker is and how scalable it is across regions around the world. We use it all the time for client reports and are now also making use of the Data Studio connector to pull data into our own existing report templates.
You could spend a week researching and writing a 3,000 word in-depth guide only to find that in a month its traffic is being eclipsed by a 300 word blog that took you one tenth of the time to write. That little gem could start ranking for some pretty valuable keywords – even if you never planned for it to. Give it a makeover and you’ll see your rankings on SERPs (search engine results pages) and organic traffic values soar. We’ve seen this strategy work with both our clients and our own website. Big bonus: it’s actually an easy strategy to pull off. Here’s how:

Hey Delena, I am not worried about you stalking me, I like it :) I think you can advertise any service on Craigslist. The idea you have is awesome. Not only you can point your ad to your blog but also make some extra cash. And instead just going locally, I am sure there is something you can do worldwide, like give people advice over Skype or something. Thanks for the awesome comment and the twithelp suggestion.


One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).
Hey Kim, thanks for thinking about the trees, lol. OK, let me think. First, yes it depends on the niche a lot. But I do need to say that it can also depend a lot on the creativity of a blogger. If you know Kiesha from We Blog Better, she is a really creative blogger. She once wrote a post called "What can bag ladies teach us about blogging". And of course, attached a photo of a bag lady. If it was a Flickr photo, you would go back and tell the author you used a photo on your post and tell him the post name. Everyone would be curious to see what the heck is all that about. I wrote about this Flickr tactics on Traffic Generation Cafe. Anyway, why am I mentioning Flickr? Because it would seem that it is the best place to get traffic if you have a photography blog, right? But in Kiesha's example, all you need is some creativity and it can work for every niche. I for example, am hardly using Quora. Everyone else is (well most of everyone, lol). But I am old school and use Yahoo Answers, that almost no one is using. So my results are great with YA. Answer sites require some time, but not more than commenting does and certainly less than guest posting does. And it is fresh traffic, not just bloggers that you connected with. But out of these all, I would focus on the first group, video/audio traffic sources, just because they are kinda up and coming compared to some others. If I can answer additional questions, feel free to add some, not sure if I answered what you needed me to :) Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers, I really appreciate it.
A link in the comment itself may or may not be called for. I recommend only including a link of you have a post on your site that ties in nicely. If you do, you can use it to expand your comment. “By the way, I wrote a post on this topic as well over here. My conclusions were X and they seem to contradict yours; what are your thoughts?” If you aren’t able to work in a relevant post, limit your link to in your profile for the comment, where the website field sits.
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I've been sending out stamped self addressed reply cards...........that hasn't been going so well so maybe it shouldn't be # 51............... Hey, I'm doing a few of these; I need to get away from looking at it like a minefield and more as a u-pick-em strawberry patch. Good stuff as always Brankica; you still rock and lookie there, I didn't even leave any lipstick on your butt..............:)
Using the same 2 steps, we can also filter the All Pages section and the Content Drilldown to explore further how our organic traffic is using the site. A focus on this Organic Traffic is important because this traffic is, in many cases, free traffic that your website is receiving. Focus on doubling down on your pages that perform well and working to identify any pages that aren’t getting the organic traffic they deserve.

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).

Organic search engine optimization (organic SEO) refers to the methods used to obtain a high placement (or ranking) on a search engine results page in unpaid, algorithm-driven results on a given search engine. Methods such as boosting keywords, backlinking and writing high-quality content can all improve a site’s page rank. Black hat SEO methods, such as the use of keyword stuffing and link farming, can also boost organic SEO.
Nice post. I was wondering if all this content of your strategy was been writien in blog of the site, or if you added to content in some other specific parts of the sites. I don't believe 100% in the strategy of reomoving links. If Google just penalize you taking into account your inbound likes, It would be so easy to attack your competitors just by buying dirty link packages targeting to their sites.
There are always high profile blogs in your industry, no matter what that industry is. It might be sites like Business Insider, Forbes, and Inc. It might be sites like Medium and Gawker. It might be sites like Search Engine Journal and QuickSprout. The fact is, every industry has its dominant forces, and as long as you’re not the dominant blog, you can use the dominant blogs as traffic sources for your own.
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.
One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).
Improving organic traffic can sometimes be challenging, but if you apply the correct SEO strategies, the hard work will eventually pay off. Search engine traffic is great because it’s relevant and targeted. For most websites, organic traffic converts much better than traffic from social media or other sources. Another great advantage is that visits from search engines are much more consistent.
This quickly turns into a “chicken-and-egg” situation. Are fewer people coming to your site due to poor visibility in the SERPs? Or have you shifted your product focus, and is that why consumers are no longer interested in your brand? For a quick check, look at Google Search Console data, and pull positions and clicks by page. If position is staying relatively stagnant, this means your brand is not losing visibility in the SERPs, and there may be a bigger issue at play.
You are right. Actually, it is the same with answer site, I mean the same strategy. But you need to be smart using them, you have to answer the question and point them to a link. But with people's short attention spans, they are satisfied with what ever answer you give them and they don't go exploring links so much. Again it does depend on the niche and the type of question. I like that you tracked what converts on your blog, because that is the best thing to do to see what to focus your energy on. Thanks so much for the comment, Bryan.
Brankica Great post. Looks like I've got a few weeks worth of exploring to do - checking out these blog traffic boosting tools and ideas! One question I have: How do you measure the success of each of these tools and tips? Surely you have tried some that were less successful than others. Do you track metrics and weed out the less-than-stellar time-suck ideas? I'd love to hear how you settled on these that you mention in the post. Perhaps there's value in talking a bit about the ones that have fallen by the wayside and why as well.
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).
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 …
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Hey Tia, thank you so much for the comment and glad you liked it. I like Hub pages and Squidoo for traffic but the money is equal to none compared what you have to do to get so many views, lol, guess no pain no gain. I am also not worried about Ezines because I actually wrote unique articles and did my best to make them great quality ones. Guess that is why I posted just a few of them, lol. But they still get me nice amount of traffic. I like it more that I didn't have to post 200 articles to make it worth. Thanks again for the comment!
Let’s say you wish to block all URLs that have the PDF. extension. If you write in your robots.txt a line that looks like this: User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /*.pdf$. The sign “$” from the end basically tells bots that only URLs ending in PDF shouldn’t be crawled while any other URL containing “PDF” should be. I know it might sound complicated, yet the moral of this story is that a simple misused symbol can break your marketing strategy along with your organic traffic. Below you can find a list with the correct robotx.txt wildcard matches and, as long as you keep count of it, you should be on the safe side of website’s traffic.
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.
For our client: We only used a smaller quantity of very high-quality link building each month. So, for example we only built 40 of the best links each month to supplement the work we were doing on the content marketing front. We also invested heavily into tracking competitor backlink profiles, using Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. We worked out how the competitor's acquired specific backlinks, then by using outreach and content creation we obtained these links.
Referral traffic is the third most important source, bringing 8.3% of total traffic to the leading retailers’ websites. There are four online retailers that receive significantly more referral traffic than others: Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and Gap. Live.com is their leading referral source sending nearly 3% of traffic to these sites. Also, we see that Amazon often directs its visitors to Walmart , which brings this company 3% of its traffic. And Amazon itself receives most of its traffic from Amazon-affiliated sources such as Primevideo.com and Audible.com.
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.
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