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?
Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.
For a small business, it is better to start with Organic SEO because aside from it is a low-cost investment, it will build your internet presence gradually and eventually have a solid foundation in your own niche – provided that you are doing the right way. It is not bad to invest in non-organic. You just have to make sure that you are investing on the right campaigns and not on the overly artificial ways to gain traffic and rank. Avoid investing too much on paid advertising and instead invest on creating relevant and useful content.
Traffic from organic search is free and long-lasting, which makes you less dependent on advertising budgets. If you look at the list of the top three American e-commerce retailers, you will find that it matches the above data with the top three companies getting the most organic traffic. This definitely proves that SEO pays off in the long run: you attract quality traffic in large volumes without paying for it directly.

Armed with this information, ecommerce marketers can learn why some sources might be underperforming or focus efforts on sources that drive better quality traffic. In some cases, this might mean relying less on search engines and more on social media or brand awareness. Other times the opposite could be the best course of action. Either way, the Traffic Sources section in Google Analytics can help.
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.
Basically, what I’m talking about here is finding websites that have mentioned your brand name but they haven’t actually linked to you. For example, someone may have mentioned my name in an article they wrote (“Matthew Barby did this…”) but they didn’t link to matthewbarby.com. By checking for websites like this you can find quick opportunities to get them to add a link.

Consumers only have so much attention and so much money — and for each, they set a “budget” for how much they want to spend with the brands that are important to them. Consumers invest their attention and money into big promotions. Typically, big promos have big results for the retailer, but the flip side is that the promo has emptied the consumers’ budget for attention and money. If the promo is big enough, it even entices some consumers to overspend a little bit (or a lot). When consumers have expended or exceeded their budget, they tend to engage with your brand less. They become immune to marketing messages and spend fewer dollars.


Brankica, I read through this and subscribed to the comments. Boy, it gets a little frustrating when you get so many emails that aren't to you:) When I first read I understood very lttle (very very lttle). Reading again has really been helpful. I understand these ideas so much better now. It follows that Hindu teaching, "When the student is ready the teacher will appear". You bring such value with your presentation style and willingness to go the extra miles (in this case). I will post exactly what my numbers are about two weeks from now after implementing at least 5 of these. I am hovering around 80 visitors daily in the last 10 days. I know it'll be a good report! Thanks, you rock girl. Live it LOUD!
Looking at the keyword rankings and organic landing pages provided a little bit of insight into the organic traffic loss, but it was nothing definitive. Because of this, I moved to the on-page metrics for further clarity. As a disclaimer, when I talk about on-page metrics, I’m talking about bounce rate, page views, average page views per session, and time on site.

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."
To do this, I often align the launch of my content with a couple of guest posts on relevant websites to drive a load of relevant traffic to it, as well as some relevant links. This has a knock-on effect toward the organic amplification of the content and means that you at least have something to show for the content (in terms of ROI) if it doesn't do as well as you expect organically.
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.
As I said at the beginning of the article, more naturally earned backlinks, will help you get more organic traffic and improve SEO. You can suggest your readers to link back to your website by having a small widget at the bottom of your posts. Just as you have the social media sharing links, an embedded linking widget will increase the chances to get more backlinks.
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).
If you indulge me an analogy, if you’re moving from one place to another, you would like the postman to send all the love letters to your new address and you wouldn’t want them lost in an old mailbox that no one uses, right? (I am guessing you would want the bills to be sent to the old address instead). A similar thing happens when it comes to moving your site’s address.
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?
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.
I just joined digg a few minutes ago. I gotta tell you that I have been researching on this topic for several months now. By far the best article I have come across on traffic generation. It's one of the most comprehensive ones I've read. And includes a variety of sources which never struck me before. I'm a musician and I plan on starting a blog and uploading videos soon. This is really going to help me a lot and I'm gonna follow. :) I really like the idea of using sites like wiki, about.com, scribd etc...
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.
Looking at the keyword rankings and organic landing pages provided a little bit of insight into the organic traffic loss, but it was nothing definitive. Because of this, I moved to the on-page metrics for further clarity. As a disclaimer, when I talk about on-page metrics, I’m talking about bounce rate, page views, average page views per session, and time on site.

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 :)
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.
We are here to give you the best web traffic you can get. We are experts in SEO methods and have been in this business for many years. We understand that our customers need to be our number one priority so one of our main objectives is to ensure the rapid growth of your website and to do everything to make your business more visible online.          
Comments need special attention to be successful, though. Generally, you will have strict rules to follow. You can’t simply leave a “this was great, hey check out my site” comment. It will either be filtered for spam or it will be ignored. You need an insightful, detailed, and helpful message. You need to expand upon the topic in the post, argue against it, or support it with your own data. The point is to be valuable and attract positive attention.
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.
I don't generally think of my own list as a traffic source, because those are people that subscribed and keep coming back, mostly because of good content. This is more tutorial about where to get fresh traffic from in case a person is not using some of these sources already. Where have you guest posted, I haven't seen any, would like to read some of those :)
So much traffic sources here, that I have not even come across. While there are the "most popular" ones, half of the sites you mentioned here are relatively new to me, so they all will be worth checking out. You are right about "forums" though, and although I am basically stuck with two (warrior and another that is unrelated), it does provide you some traffic provided as always, that you provide good feedback, help people, engage effectively with the community and of course, having a good and well structured signature :) Finally published :) Hopefully on your way to 300+ RTs, LOL
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.
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).

Brankica I like your Point about being a Master of Catchy Titles when Using Commentluv, I can also see that you use a different link whenever possible replying to comments here. This is just proving you know what you are talking about great insight into getting traffic from multiple sources and looking for alternative traffic not just thinking about getting visitors from search engines.

Hi Brankica Wow, this is a super-comprehensive list for me to go through one by one and try those I have not even heard of till now :-) As always, some very useful information for those of us serious about our traffic generation and making an impact in our niche. Thanks for sharing your own experiences and I'll let you know how I go when I have implemented some of your suggestions. Patricia Perth Australia
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.

For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 
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.
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.
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.
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