Direct traffic can encompass a wide range of sources, including those you would have liked to have tracked in analytics. A drop in traffic from a particular source does not necessarily mean a drop in traffic. It could indicate a case in which that source ended up being categorized under Direct traffic. The best advice is - proactively use tracking parameters in cases where you may be risking not properly seeing traffic. There is actually a nice infographic showing the main factors impacting traffic. I use it sometimes to solve the current issues. Taking the right steps to address potentially miscategorized traffic, as well as being upfront with clients about the causes, can help to mitigate problems.
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I feel that an article is only good if it adds value to the reader, and this one qualifies as a great article because it has shown me quite a few new ways in which to generate traffic to my blogs. I would like to tell you that I had read your suggestions about using flickr images on blog for traffic generation some other place as well and I have religiously followed that on my blog and today at least 15% of the traffic to my site comes from there! I am therefore going to follow the other suggestions as well (the ones that I am not following now) and hope to take my blog from Alexa 500K to sub 100K in the next couple of month!

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 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.
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!

When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.
I have always believed in good quality content, well structured and written in a way that isn’t just about promotional talk. Thanks for sharing this information with us, it’s always helpful to have everything written in a concise manner so we can remind ourselves now and again of what it takes to increase organic traffic. As an SEO consultant myself I come across websites all the time that are messy and still using tactics that have long been out of date. Having a successful website is all about quality content and links. I like it that you stated what the problem was and then how you fixed it for the client. Great article.
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.
Hey James, I LOLed at your comment. In a good way of course. What do you mean you knew about 3 things!? You better get to work then. Just kiddin'. Glad you liked the list and hope you will put it to use. And if you do, I really hope to hear some feedback on how it worked for you. These tips are awesome for websites like those, I have some of those. You should definitely give this list a go, I first tested all these on my main niche site and then on my blog. I can tell you that these sources can make miracles if they are used right.
I would like to talk about a case study for a large start up I worked on for over eight months in the Australian and US market. This client originally came to the company with the typical link building and SEO problems. They had been using a SEO company that had an extensive link network and was using less than impressive SEO tactics and methodologies over the last 12 months. The company was also losing considerable revenue as a direct result of this low quality SEO work. So, I had to scramble and develop a revival strategy for this client.
It might happen to have some lost links from now and then or a broken page due to some crawling issue or something similar. Yet, when your broken pages and links form up a figure just as big as your phone number, then you might be facing a problem; in terms of site user experience and organic traffic as well. Your bounce rate will increase, your overall usability, you will be loosing links and therefore you will start asking yourself “why did my organic traffic drop”?
A few links down and I've noticed that Brian has a link from WordPress.org. Not bad! Turns out that his content has been referenced within one of WordPress's codex posts. If I were to reach out and offer some additional insight, citing one of my articles, there's a chance I could bag a similar link, especially considering they have a 'Useful Resources' section.
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.
People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.
Hi Brankica, Really hard pressed to come up with #51 here as it's such an extensive list. Quite a few of my customers have had success driving traffic and awareness with Groupon recently. By setting up special offers they are able to get real people through the doors too. Just by asking people to quote the coupon code when they fill in the contact us form, or when they pick up the phone, it's a great way of tracking success. Still getting my head around how this could be used my an online only business, but for a brick and mortar with a web presence it's a nice little option.

Hi Brankica I'm honored to be up in the same contest as you! Your article is breathtaking really! You have added so many unique factors into this one it's extremely beneficial for any blogger to read. Your covered so many are's and gave great idea's and suggestions about them. Great article! Thanks for sharing! Also THANK YOU for adding blogengage I love ya!
But now, that is all changing. We can still see all of that information ... sometimes. Things got a whole heck of a lot more complicated a little over a year ago, when Google introduced SSL encryption . What does that mean? It means Google started encrypting keyword data for anyone conducting a Google search while logged in to Google. So if you're logged in to, say, Gmail when you do a search, the keyword you used to arrive on a website is now encrypted, or hidden. So if that website drilled down into its organic search traffic source information, they'd see something like this:
Plan your link structure. Start with the main navigation and decide how to best connect pages both physically (URL structure) and virtually (internal links) to clearly establish your content themes. Try to include at least 3-5 quality subpages under each core silo landing page. Link internally between the subpages. Link each subpage back up to the main silo landing page.
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.
Thank you Jayne, for doing all that voting and sharing, means the world to me! I am glad you saw some new ideas and looking at all the comments, I think I killed a really bug tree with this post, that is how many people want to print it out, lol. If at any point of time you get stuck with one of these, send me an e-mail, tweet, what ever and I will try to help you with extra ideas :)
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.
Hi, Having read all this advice I can see its going to be a busy weekend! After 'Panda' many sites have collapsed but I have found that Squidoo has surprised me as it seems to be keeping popularity and as mentioned above, makes a little money as well as helps driving traffic. Hmmm...50 ideas....shall I start from the top or be different and work my way up from the end of the list?
Hey Andreas, there are two main reasons I saw for suspending accounts - mean people and too many links. But they come to the same. On Yahoo Answers, like everywhere else, you have competition. They will flag your answer just so their answer would be chosen as the best. On the other hand, putting too many links in your answers can provoke the same thing. I usually put a link in every 3rd or 4th answer I post. And it is usually the best answer I can make. Glad you will try out the other sources, would love to see the results.
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.
Another key consideration is that social platforms have become search engines within themselves. Just look at Twitter, for example - you can use it to see what the biggest trending news of the day are and you can easily search for great content. You can search based on your location, in different languages and if you click on advanced search, there are even more options:
Search engine traffic. Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page for any search engine — whether Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Blekko, or similar. This traffic source is divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic — meaning that the visitor clicked on a so-called natural search result — and CPC or paid search engine traffic, which is the traffic you purchase (via pay-per-click ads_ from search engines. Search engine traffic usually indicates that you have good or at least reasonably good content. It also can mean that you have chosen a good software platform. Be sure to learn which keywords are driving this traffic. Multi-channel merchants, as an example, may find that their brand name is a key search term. When this is the case, offline marketing is usually the real traffic driver.
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.
I'm not in the contest, but if I was - I'd be SKEEEEERED. This was awesome, really - there were MAYBE 3 things I knew... The rest was new. I'm lame that way. The great thing about this is that as a blogger - you've covered ideas I've never thought of...I get my traffic mostly from SEO (not on my blog, but in my websites which are product based review sites) - but there's enough meat in this post I can use for my niche sites to keep me in the black, so to speak (ink I mean, not socks). Awesome post, Brankica - I'm speechless. (If you ignore the foregoing paragraph.)
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For the short-term, PPC is generally your best bet. The minute your ad runs, it delivers results. But when the budget stops, so do the benefits. Because SEO relies on your website’s content, linking structure, and meta data, developing a thorough strategy that delivers real results takes more time than setting up a PPC campaign. However, SEO’s results may be more valuable to you and your organization in the long run.
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."

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.
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?
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.

So we’re confident that the high social traffic in the sixth example above reflects the highly successful social media campaigns the organization is working on. We could also see this pattern for a site which has decided that they can’t succeed with search and has, as Google suggests for such websites, chosen to work on social media success instead. The difference is, one site would have good Search and Direct traffic and really good social media, while the other might have dismal Search and rely heavily on social media, which is very time consuming and often has a low ROI. This second pattern is one we’ve seen with microbusinesses where the business owner is spending hours each day on social media and making very little progress in the business. Making the investment in a better website would probably pay off better in the long run, even if it seems like an expensive choice.
Great awesome article till now its the best one I ever read for traffic generation on web and on this contest as well can be converted into an ebook too with few addons like there is a site for video starting with m cant recall the name feeling damn sleepy reading all this articles since hours,and sites like redgage and arranging giveaways depending on your site niche

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.

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!).

Hey Marcus, thank you so much. Hearing all the compliments make me wish I made a list of 100 traffic sources :) I don't think anyone would publish it though...too much work, lol. I hope everyone will use it and find some fresh traffic for their blogs, most of these sources will work for any blog but some will work better for specific niches. Thanks for sharing and appreciate the comment!


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Hey Delena, stress management and parenting seem like a really related areas to me :) Slideshare is really great, I only uploaded two slideshows by now, but I am satisfied with the numbers. What you can do is create a slideshow, upload it to Slideshare and then create a video out of that same slideshow and upload it to YouTube. It will take you only a few extra minutes, but you will get exposure on YT as well. I hope the Craigslist ads will help, if now with traffic than with some extra gigs! Thanks so much for the comment!
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?

Hey Ashok! Good question. I work with clients in a lot of different industries, so the tactics I employ are often quite different depending on the client. In general though, creating killer resources around popular topics, or tools related to client services. This provides a ton of outreach opportunity. For example: We had a client build a tool that allowed webmasters to quickly run SSL scans on their sites and identofy non-secure resources. We reached out to people writing about SSLs, Https migration etc and pitched it as a value-add. We built ~50 links to that tool in 45 days. Not a massive total, but they were pretty much all DR 40+.
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