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.

Hey Caroline, that is one of the great things, being included like that. Happened to me once, when my favorite blogger asked a question on her FB page and then included the testimonials in one of the pages. So not only did I get a dofollow link from a site that is Alexa less than 5.000 but I was so happy to be featured on her blog. Thanks for the awesome comment and I would love some feedback in a week or so, when the first results come in :)
Optimise for your personas, not search engines. First and foremost, write your buyer personas so you know to whom you’re addressing your content. By creating quality educational content that resonates with you>r ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO. This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries. Optimising for search engines alone is useless; all you’ll have is keyword-riddled nonsense.
Google is currently been inundated with reconsideration requests from webmasters all over the world. On public holidays the Search Quality teams do not look at reconsideration requests. See below analysis. From my experience it can take anywhere from 15-30+ days for Google to respond to reconsideration requests; during peak periods it can even take longer.
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.
Hi Chris, "Good content" means a couple of things - good for readers and good for Google. Good content for readers means that the content answers questions, provides value, offers solutions, and is engaging. You want to keep the reader on the page and on your website for as long as possible. To make good content for Google, you have to provide the search engine with a set of signals - e.g., keywords, backlinks, low bounce rates, etc... The idea is that if you make good content for readers (engaging, valuable, actionable, and informative), your content will get more engagement. When your content gets more engagement Google will see it as good content too and put it higher in the SERPs. Making "good content" is about striking that balance. Let us know if that answered your question!
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
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.
Thanks for this handy info. I wasn't aware that Google owned Vark so I'm off to check it out. There is so much to learn about the best sites to use on the internet for traffic generation. I'm too frightened of spending more time surfing than actually writing for my own blogs that I probably don't do nearly enough 'looking'. Does anyone else have this time problem V's actual work time?
Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media's General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.
Hi Matt, realizing now how difficult it is to run a blog, trying to promote it and carry on with your daily activities. I would say it's a full time job. Once you thing you done learning about something, something else is coming :). My blog is about preparing for an ironman so I need to add the training on top of it. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us so we can keep focus!!!
Google is currently been inundated with reconsideration requests from webmasters all over the world. On public holidays the Search Quality teams do not look at reconsideration requests. See below analysis. From my experience it can take anywhere from 15-30+ days for Google to respond to reconsideration requests; during peak periods it can even take longer.
You might see referral traffic coming from search engines like Google or Bing, a blog, newsletter, or email or social media sites like Facebook. Referrer traffic could be organic or through a paid search like cost-per-click (CPC) advertising or a paid advertising campaign that you have created (but in many cases, the paid advertising will show up in its very own Paid traffic type).

Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.


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.
Yahoo Answers is one of my favorite traffic generation sources when it comes to answer sites. It has been one of my main traffic sources on a niche site for a long time, even after I haven’t used it for months. The main thing is to give your best when answering. If your answers are chosen as the best ones, you will have more respect in the eyes of the visitors so… yes, more of them will come to check out your blog.
Hey Peppy, I am glad you found this post too :) I wanted to write it in even more details but it was getting so long I thought if I add one more word, no one would read it, lol. I tried all these traffic generation sources, some worked miracles some were so and so. But I can bet everyone can find winners here. Actually all these sources can work miracles, it all depends on what you find more natural to do. I am for example really slow with videos and still not comfortable making them so YouTube doesn't bring thousands of people to my blog. It brings some. But when it comes to answer sites, I had so much success with some of them, that I just have to recommend them. Blog commenting is working better as I learn to write better titles, so people click on my Comment Luv links. Anyway, thanks so much for the great comment and hope to hear some feedback from you, about how there worked out on your blog.

The "Direct Session" dimension, not to be confused with the default channel grouping or source dimension, is something different. It can tell you if a session was genuinely from its reported campaign (reported as No), or if it was simply bucketed there due to the last non-direct click attribution model (reported as Yes). I didn't mention this dimension in the article because it has some flaws which can cause brain bending complexities, plus it goes a little beyond the scope of this article, which I tried to gear more towards marketers and non-expert GA users. It's certainly an interesting one, though.
In 2014, Cisco stated that video made 64% of all internet traffic. In 2015, Searchmetrics was releasing a white paper quoting that 55% of all keyword searches in the U.S. return at least one video blended into Google’s web search results and that 8 out 10 of those videos belonged to YouTube. And in 2016, Cisco was also sharing that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.
PPC platforms hinge not on fixed prices, but on bids. Marketers bid for what they’re willing to pay for a single keyword click. Some industry words are much more expensive than others. The more expensive the word, the more likely you should rely on SEO to deliver traffic and leads to your organization. To find average industry CPCs, you can use Google’s keyword planner tool.
Hey Patricia, glad you liked the post and found more things to do... Like you are not overwhelmed with stuff lately anyway, lol. Please, don't try all at once. One traffic source every few days. For two reasons: not to get overwhelmed and to be able to track some results. I think if a blogger would master only 3 to 5 of these sources, it would bring incredible amounts of traffic. By master I mean just that - be a master, not just do it in some spare time ;)
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.
I don’t know how much time it took to gather all this stuff, but it is simply great I was elated to see the whole concept related (backlinks, content strategies, visitors etc) to see at one place. I hope it will be helpful for the beginners link me. I recently started a website, also I’m newbie to blogging industry. I hope your information will helps me a lot to lead success.
Yahoo Answers is one of my favorite traffic generation sources when it comes to answer sites. It has been one of my main traffic sources on a niche site for a long time, even after I haven’t used it for months. The main thing is to give your best when answering. If your answers are chosen as the best ones, you will have more respect in the eyes of the visitors so… yes, more of them will come to check out your blog.

The big other search engine people recommend is, of course, Bing. Bing and Yahoo have something of an alliance, with Yahoo taking their data primarily from the Bing index, so appealing to either one is the same as appealing to both. SEO for Bing is a little different than it is for Google, though. Exact match keywords tend to have greater weight, for one thing. Bing also has a bit more of an emphasis on links from edu and gov sites.
Visitors can also fall into the direct category by clicking a link to your site from an email or PDF document, accessing your site from a shortened URL (which is an abbreviated version of your website address), clicking on a link from a secured site to your non-secure site, or clicking on a link to your site from a social media application like Facebook or Twitter. And, there is a chance that accessing your site from an organic search can end up being reported as direct traffic.
You had to know social media would be on the list. I generally recommend that a site only have a presence on 2-3 social networks, at least while they’re small. It’s a lot of work to maintain, engage, and update a social network profile, and keep its messaging consistent with your branding. You can always spay someone to do it for you, but then it’s not a free traffic source, is it?
I've started a fairly new blog, aimed at fairly new bloggers, by a fairly new blogger! I've had another blog up and running for about four months and it's building up quite well, but I've learned a lot from you here, and am looking forward to trying all the ideas that are new to me. You've been so thorough that I can't suggest a 51, but perhaps a 50a - I use Tweetadder with my Twitter accounts; it's a brilliant tool for automating tasks and driving traffic. I won't spam the comment with a link here, but there is one on my blog for anyone who is interested. Thanks again for all those ideas, cheers, Brent
I had great results with Stumble Upon cause I have been a user for years and Stumble a lot of things that have nothing to do with blogging or my blog. And Networked blogs is working great for me too :) I am glad you found some new sources here. I would love, if you had the time, to look into one or two that seam interesting to you, and maybe try them out... and then come back and tell me if they worked OK for you?
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.

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.
Google makes constant efforts to improve the search algorithm and detect quality content and that is why it rolled out the Google Panda 4.0 update.  What is this update really doing? It deranks low quality content and boosts the high quality one, according to Google’s idea of valuable content. In the screenshot below you can see what kind of content you shouldn’t be looking into if you are really determined in making a mess out of your organic traffic. 
Hi Brankica, wow what an extensive list. As a one-month old blogger this list is overwhelming so there were four things I have noted and will look into further are stumbleupon, digg, roundups and vark. I hope to implement them soon and will keep track of the results. As for the other sources, I will come back to this post to see what other sources to use next. I am curious to know from your experience, what are the Top 10 most effective traffic sources?

So, Google has accepted the reconsideration request, you can now move forward with creating high-quality link building and a content creation strategy. I see every one creating threads about great content marketing examples, but the problem is that most of the time these are big business examples. SME’s and start-ups do not have big dollars to do such things, so the next best thing is to is to create a content market calendar for your clients. 


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.
Hey Jeevan, Forums can ban people for promotion but most of them only do it for certain types of behavior. For example, some of them don't allow signatures until a certain number of posts. All of them will allow related links if it helps answering the question. I have never been banned from a forum and try to play by their rules. Thanks for the compliment and I think you have a great contestant as well, I RTed it the other day cause it is really useful!
Look at the biggest startup success stories and analyse their content. Airbnb positions itself as the place to find unique travel experiences with locals, Uber is the cheap, on-demand taxi alternative and Skillshare carved its niche as a free learning exchange platform. They all address their audience concerns in a way nobody else is doing and their content has a friendly, approachable tone – even when we’re talking about software startups like IFTTT or Slack.
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.

Hey Jeevan, Forums can ban people for promotion but most of them only do it for certain types of behavior. For example, some of them don't allow signatures until a certain number of posts. All of them will allow related links if it helps answering the question. I have never been banned from a forum and try to play by their rules. Thanks for the compliment and I think you have a great contestant as well, I RTed it the other day cause it is really useful!
On the basis of this article alone, you should be given a Ph.D in internet traffic generation. Absolutely fantastic set of ideas & sources for traffic generation. I had taken a print of this article the first I read it and then took some serious action of some of the ideas that have mentioned here - flickr images, blog commenting, slideshare (this even resulted in some great business leads and closures), sites such as blog engage, blog interact, social media sources such as LinkedIn, forum participation etc. And they have done wonders to my sites. The fact that there are 319 comments here even as I write is testimony to the authenticity of the ideas presented here. Great article which will one day be a classic - if it is not already.

Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.
Hey Julia, thanks so much for the comment. I just saw the idea you were talking about, that is awesome. I think you are right cause although it seems a bit inconvenient, I personally wrote down a few URL like that in my cell phone or notebook to check it out when I am back at the computer. Wow, this is something I need to think about. Also, how about those big billboards?
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The main tip about using answer sites is not to link to your blog every time you answer a question. Especially if the post is not closely related to the question. Answer some questions for the sake of answering them. You will always have links in your bio/profile, so if you answer a question like a rock star (without a link),  some traffic will come from people checking out your profile.
Real Visits is using a completely legitimate process in order to get you organic visits, improve keyword rankings and even your PR if you use it correctly together with SEO methods. Visits come from all over the world but our main traffic source is US and Europe but also Asia if needed. Our service has a good impact on all website analysis tools. All visits will be delivered in one month, so don’t wait, choose the perfect package for your business and purchase one of our services today. Besids WordWide Organic Traffic, we also offer US only organic traffic or UK only organic traffic.
Hey Caroline, that is one of the great things, being included like that. Happened to me once, when my favorite blogger asked a question on her FB page and then included the testimonials in one of the pages. So not only did I get a dofollow link from a site that is Alexa less than 5.000 but I was so happy to be featured on her blog. Thanks for the awesome comment and I would love some feedback in a week or so, when the first results come in :)
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.

This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
For our client: We monitored everything on a daily basis. If something came up, which needed to be fixed, we were quick to implement it with the development team at the business. We also rolled out numerous campaigns multiple times as they worked effectively the first time around in generating significant traffic so it was second nature to do the same thing twice.
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.

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.


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).
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).
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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.
Unfortunately, this particular client was fairly new, so as a result, their Moz campaign data wasn’t around during the high organic traffic times in 2015. However, if it was, a good place to start would be looking at the search visibility metric (as long as the primary keywords have stayed the same). If this metric has changed drastically over the years, it’s a good indicator that your organic rankings have slipped quite a bit.
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