Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:

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]


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.
Unlike text and display ads, PLAs enable e-commerce companies to target specific products and product groups at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. They also help to increase brand awareness as they position their brand in front of a highly targeted audience that is looking for a product the company offers. Typically, a PLA contains a product picture and a price, along with a store brand. So it comes as no surprise that Walmart, as one of the world’s largest online retailers, appeared to be the undisputed leader in using PLAs, with almost 604,000 keywords used in April. The company is followed by Home Depot, which sells various home improvement items and targets 139,000 keywords.

Keywords research is a very important process for search engine optimization as it can tell you the exact phrases people are using to search on Google. Whenever you write a new blog post, you have to check the most popular keywords, but don’t be obsessed by the search volume. Sometimes, long tail keywords are more valuable, and you can rank for them more easily.
IMDB: This site is #1 when it comes to movies and TV shows. Getting a link from IMDB can be worth a ton of value, but they don’t link out to just anyone. However, that’s not reliable or even plausible for most people. Instead, you need to turn to the one location you’re free to post; the IMDB forums. These forums have a huge audience and narrow topics, and like Reddit or web forums in general, they can be great places to show your expertise, link to your content, and promote deals.

The amount of dark social that comprises one's direct traffic is going to vary. For example, you might be diligent about incorporating tracking tokens into your email marketing campaigns, and asking your co-marketing partners to do the same when they promote your site content. Great. You won't have a huge chunk of traffic dumped into direct traffic that should really go into email campaigns. On the other hand, perhaps you're embroiled in a viral video firestorm, and a video on your site gets forwarded around to thousands of inboxes ... you don't exactly have control over that kind of exposure, and as a result you'll be seeing a lot of traffic without referral data in the URL that, consequently, gets bucketed under direct traffic. See what I mean? It depends.


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.
The top five leaders in paid traffic (Google Adwords) are the same companies that lead in search, with Amazon again on top. Leading retailers don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket, and they are willing to invest heavily in pay-per-click campaigns. Clearly, PPC has worked for them because we see four out of the top five spenders are the leaders in annual sales numbers.

We have been using AccuRanker for the past few months and the team have so much good stuff to say about it. Not only do the ranking seem accurate, there are a lot of added features within the platform making reporting on the data very effective. With any new tool, there are some recommendations of features that we have put forward and AccuRanker have been very receptive to these ideas and we are hopeful that they will be implemented in the near future.
The good news is, however, indications are that dark social should decrease more and more over time, as social media as a sharing mechanism -- as opposed to email -- only continues to grow. In fact, in the same article we mentioned earlier, BuzzFeed cited a preference with millennials to share over Facebook and Twitter, alongside a longer term downward trend of sharing over email.

There’s also other search engines. Ask, Dogpile, IxQuick, and so forth; these are all minor. However, one search engine seems to be gaining market share and exposure, and that’s DuckDuckGo. It has been trending in the wake of Google privacy concerns and some clever marketing from the DDG staff. It’s something you should, at least, pay some attention to.
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.
Wow! I have learned so much from you this evening. Thank you. It prompted me to create a list of my own I have sporadically (and unfocused) have been doing myself. I have been using Flickr, but not linking back to my post... shame on me. Going back tomorrow and starting to add links. I do Cinch my articles which can be found on Itunes and I use Odiogo where people can also listen to all of my articles (including the ones I don't personally Cinch). Also, I like Blog Glue to refer and be referred. My main goal is to have a focused plan. I like your recommendation to focus on 5 at a time. Thanks again.
As we mentioned before, when someone finds your site via a link on a social network, they'll be bucketed under social media as a traffic source. This could include someone tweeting out a link, or it could include you posting a link to your Facebook page. If it's you doing the posting, you can also add a tracking token before posting to track those links as part of a larger campaign for you to analyze later!
Another big benefit to using social media is that it can help you gain more influence, as well as grow your business across board. And although social media has little direct influence over your search engine ranking, it can help your SEO, albeit indirectly. By helping to grow your business and your website, gaining more traffic, more backlinks and so on, this will improve your website's domain authority, and thus, its search engine ranking by extension.
Hi , the post is really nice , and it made me think if our current strategy is ok or not , 2 things are important " High quality content strategy " and " Good quality Links " now joining those correctly can pose some real challenges , say if we have n no of content writers who are writing for couple of websites, to be generic let’s consider , 1 writer @ 1 website . We have to write make a content strategy for in-house blog of the website to drive authentic traffic on it and a separate content strategy for grabbing  links from some authentic High PR website i.e. CS should be 2 ways , In-house / Outhouse .
Brankica, Excellent list. The only one I could think of is mentioning through email to family and friends. Example: Hey Guys and Gals, Sorry I haven't been in touch for a while. I've been working my tail off building something I hope will be special. I would appreciate it if you could do me a huge favor. My blog is still new and I need some opinions on where it can improve. Let me know the good, bad and ugly:) Also, can you pass it along to some of your friends? The more opinions the better idea I have at what works and what doesn't. etc. Thanks for the post. Live it LOUD!
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.
BrightEdge research supports that a blended approach is best for delivering high performing content. Not only will combining organic and paid search increase website traffic, but it will offer a bigger return on the investment. Take Retail, Technology and Hospitality industries, for example — organic and paid search combined make up more than two-thirds of their total revenue.

I have 103 with the trackbacks in the bottom, lol. For now... and I hope to get many more. I think the sources can be useful and hope someone will find good use of them :) I love how people are in the mood to comment. My favorite thing about blogging are all the connections and I try to be really helpful. So I guess that is the reason I get a lot of comments. Not to mention that I even put a post up on my blog asking everyone to help me be one of the winners :) This is my first contest. I am glad you liked it and sorry for popping up everywhere, lol.
This was awesome! Holy moly! THIS type of post is definitely worth bookmarking and coming back to :) Number 51? Find Brankica and hire her for free to be your publicist!! :P LOL. You really covered pretty much all of the main traffic methods, I can't really think of much of anything else! Hmmm... maybe email list building? Like partnering up with someone else who has a list and swapping opt-in ads? Lots of people do that to get more subscribers! So, that could be another traffic method as well. :) GREAT POST! I'll try to remember to tweet this one a few times this week!

hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
This traffic source comes from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Remember, paid search ads or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising are not included within this source category. If you choose to run a paid advertising campaign for your business, it will not affect your website’s ranking within an organic search. Organic search is obtained through natural placement on search engine results, without paying for it, through search engine optimization best practices.

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.
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.

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.


One of the most significant changes to Google’s algorithm over the years has been how it uses keywords to match relevant content to queries. The days of simply matching search terms to the keywords on your page are behind us, and Google’s machine learning algorithms are able to match the topical relevance of your content to the contextual meaning behind user searches.

Organic traffic is the primary channel that inbound marketing strives to increase. This traffic is defined as visitors coming from a search engine, such as Google or Bing. This does not include paid search ads, but that doesn’t mean that organic traffic isn’t impacted by paid search or display advertising, either positively or negatively. In general, people trust search engines, and sayings such as “just Google it” reinforce that humans are tied to the search engine. Thus, paid search, display, or even offline campaigns can drive searches, which may increase organic traffic while those campaigns are running.
×