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!
Google claims their users click (organic) search results more often than ads, essentially rebutting the research cited above. A 2012 Google study found that 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks happen when there is no associated organic search result on the first page.[2] Research has shown that searchers may have a bias against ads, unless the ads are relevant to the searcher's need or intent [3]
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!).
Use social media. Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. All of these activities help to get your name out and website address out on the internet. Read about how we doubled our social media audience in a week. Add share buttons to your site to make it easy for people to share your content. And write content worthy of sharing.
The time might have come when you want to secure your website and switch from HTTP to HTTPS. Easier said than done. A lot of issues might appear along the way that can screw up your hard-worked organic traffic. However, there is one thing that can really mess up things for your website while moving your site to https; and that is the canonical tag. 

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 :)
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.
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 :)
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.

For our client: We rolled out a successful implementation of rel="author" for the three in-house content writers the company had. The client had over 300+ articles made by these content writers over the years and it was possible to implement rel="author" for all the aged articles. I advise anyone who has a large section of content to do so as it will only benefit the website. We were also in the process of rolling out further schema markup to the site's course content as it only has a benefit for CTR.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest downsides to SEO is that Google is constantly making changes to their algorithm; they come out of nowhere, and they can drop your domain authority by 5, 10, even 15 points and it almost feels like you need to start optimizing all over again. It's frustrating, it's hard work and the results aren't always visible - but if you can get SEO right, it can truly be an amazing source of traffic.
And although livescience.com has way more links than its competitor, it seems that emedicinehealth.com is performing better for a lot of important keywords. Why, you might wonder. Well, the answer is simple: content. And although they are both offering good content, livescience.com is a site offering general information about a lot of things while emedicinehealth.com offers articles highly related to the topics, leaving the impression that this site really offers reliable content. We are not saying that the 5 mil links livescience.com has do not matter, yet it seems that in some cases content weighs more.
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.

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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