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?

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 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
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 :)
Understanding where your site visitors come from is an integral part of any marketing strategy. Your website is the heart of your digital marketing practices, with traffic acting as the blood. No traffic means your website can’t do anything for your business; knowing the different kinds of traffic and how they play into your website gives you the power to make educated decisions on how to improve your marketing practices.
What does that mean for your website? Organic Traffic is any of the customers that come to your website without clicking a link on another site (referral traffic) or clicking an ad (paid traffic) – these visitors used a known search engine and clicked a link to view your website. Much of this traffic is customers from Google, but it also includes other common search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Now that we know what it is, let’s dive into understanding how this information can help you improve your website.

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.
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.
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.
Putting it simple, duplicate content is content that appears on the world wide web in more than one place. Is this such a big problem for the readers? Maybe not. But it is a very big problem for you if you are having duplicate content (internally or externally) as the search engines don’t know which version of the content is the original one and which one they should be ranking.
Brankica, Gooooood...ness! Where to start giving you props on this VERY well developed post. Absolutely brilliant. You have covered so much, so many areas and done it extremely well. Two items that grabbed me the most, as I have commented time and again about where I got my blogging start, and that is through freelance writing. So, I have always limited myself by using this form of media. Video / photo journalism are brilliant forms of communication, but I've always said, "Ah, that's for someone else..." And I noticed that you lightly touched on e-zines (article submissions). These will become viable again as they make adjustments. Anyway, I could go on forever. Again, you have done a fantastic job with this post. All the best, Bryan
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.
Hey Brankica, I'm going to have to kill a tree for this one too.... going to print it! :-) (but is it as bad if I use a piece of paper that I printed something else on the other side?) Lots of great ideas here I haven't seen as well as some reminders- thanks! Personally, my biggest challenge is consistency! Have you found that some methods take longer to see results or are there certain things you do that consistently work for you? Just curious... I would think that it might depend on the niche as well? (of course you don't know until you try it, huh? ;-)) Thanks for such a great resource- I'll definitely be sharing this with my readers too! :-) Kim
How often should you go evaluate posts on your business blog? If you post multiple times a week, checking once every three months is a good rule of thumb. If you post only a few times a month, evaluating twice a year should do the trick. Remember, search engine algorithms evolve and change – and so will your keyword rankings, so set a calendar reminder for yourself or your online marketing manager to dig deeply into your search traffic and keyword rankings so you know exactly where you stand and where your biggest opportunities lie.
Once you receive a response, it’s time to hand over the list of links and suggest your content. But remember: this isn’t a time to pitch! Instead, your response should aim to point out your content, and suggest that it might make a good addition to their page if they want to add it. By employing this method, the site owner will be far more likely to include your link as a thanks for pointing out their broken links.
Hey Diana, out of these 50, you know all of them will work different for different blogs and I haven't fully "milked" some of them, but my top 10 are: commenting, Stumbleupon, Twitter, guest blogging, Reddit, Networked blogs, Blogengage, Bloginteract, round ups and Linked In. Not necesarily in this order of course. I do have to add that one of my top traffic sources (actually the number one) are search engines. Also, I have a lot of subscribers so they keep coming back too. If you have any questions, just post them and I will try to explain better :) Thanks so much for the comment!
Hey Christy, thanks so much for the comment and I hear about this HARO thing for the first time. I am definitely going to have to check it out. I have this OCD (lol) that as soon as I hear about something new, I gotta join and try it out. This is officially the new item on my to do list that now has only 563 bullet points. Just kiddin', although we all have long to do lists I always find extra time to see what are the things other bloggers talk about. Thanks so much again :)
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 :)
Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
Brankica,Oh my gosh girl you have really covered traffic generation. This enough to keep us all busy for awhile.I have been doing some offline advertising that work. I think the best one has been wearing Tshirt that invites people to site. It is a catchy domain name that they have to remember and go home and type in. I am amazed at how many people actually do it.Thanks for the new ideas.

That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
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.

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.
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.
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?
Input your post’s url into SEMrush to discover the keywords that it’s already ranking for. Are you ranking just off the first page of the SERPs for any specific keywords that have a high search volume? Take a look at keywords which are ranking in positions 2-10 and try optimizing for these first — moving from third to first position for a term with high search volume can drastically increase organic traffic. Plus, it’s easier to bump a page up the SERPs when it’s already ranking for that keyword.

Hey Chaitanya, thanks so much for the great words. Since your blog is new, you should not worry about traffic, cause it is pretty normal not to have much of it when you just start. But it is up to you to work on getting more of it. You say you are gonna try some of these tips and I hope you will. Of course, I will be waiting for the feedback. Don't forget to include some SEO in your posts and write more good content so the people that visit you first time, keep coming back. If you get stuck, you can always contact me through my blog! Thanks again for such a nice compliment about my post!


The amount of e-commerce platforms and online stores are growing yearly. But do we really know how the leading retailers become leaders? What efforts need to be made to execute an effective online strategy? How to do first things first and sort everything out in order? SEMrush conducted an e-commerce study to answer these questions, along with many others. We analyzed...
Next, you should specifically type search terms into the web for blogs posts on Facebook Marketing. Pick high authority blogs strategically (like posts appearing in Google’s top 10 for your subject) and write a detailed comment about results from your study. If you get lucky then these posts will be shared across social media and will direct traffic to your website.

In most cases, the largest amount of traffic to your site will be comprised of direct and organic traffic. If you have a partnership with an industry association or manufacturer, you may see referral traffic from their website. If you decide to do paid advertising such as pay-per-click marketing, you might see traffic coming in from ad campaigns as well.
Hi Brankica, Thanks for a great article, you are so generous with sharing your knowledge and I always look out for your posts etc. I recently bought a product for my personal use that really blew me away, so I wrote about it on my blog, and sent the supplier a link. They were absolutely delighted when they saw my blog post they added it to their testimonial page with a link back to me. Indirectly the product links to a topic covered on my website so this was a great way for me to get a little extra exposure. I'm def going to work through your list and do at least something new from it every day. Cheers, Caroline
As a website owner it's important to regularly review your streams of traffic. You want to be in the know if any channels are growing or declining at an unusual rate, especially when it comes to your organic traffic. So if you're interested in learning more about how we can help you increase the amount of daily visits your website receives feel free to contact us for more information about our white hat SEO services.
Organic Search is visitors who reach you by Googling or using another search engine which Google recognizes as a real search engine — mostly Bing and its second string, Yahoo. People using other search engines like DuckDuckGo or sites which are now commonly used as search engines but which have other purposes, like Pinterest, will show up in Referral traffic and in the case of Pinterest, in Social. If you have a good, well-optimized website, Organic Search will usually be your most frequent source. At our lab site, we do nothing to encourage other sources, so Organic Search is absolutely the top.
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.

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.


In all of the above cases, you’ve potentially found a page on your website that could turn into a keyword monster with a little extra content and keyword integration. Although we’ve discussed blog posts in this guide, don’t completely overlook the other pages on your website – these tips will work to increase organic traffic on all pages, not just individual blog posts.
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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