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.
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."
In other words, businesses have much less visibility into which keywords searchers are using to find them, making it much harder to understand which words and terms are or working -- or not working -- in their search engine optimization. Google said this would only affect about 11% of searches, but the truth of the matter is the number is much greater than that, and is only continuing to increase as Google's user base grows. It's important to keep this curveball in mind when evaluating organic search as a traffic and lead generation source.
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.
Organic traffic is a special kind of referral traffic, defined as visitors that arrive from search engines. This is what most marketers strive to increase. The higher you rank for certain keywords, the more often your search result appears (increasing your impressions), ultimately resulting in more visitors (aka clicks). It’s also important to note that paid search ads are not counted in this category.
The best of profitable visitors which you can get to your site is from Organic search results. This means, when people search for something and land on your website because these are the people who are most likely to convert into customers or clients. In blogging, it’s also most profitable as users will be seeing more high CPC Adsense ads, as they will see ads based on their search term.
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.
You might remember “Face Off” , a movie from ‘97 where Nicolas Cage is a terrorist and John Travolta is an FBI agent. And, as it happens in movies, they became obsessed with one another. Travolta needs information from Cage’s brother, so he undergoes an operation in which he gets Cage’s face; a few plot twists later and Cage has Travolta’s. They continue to pursue each other with new identities, the bad guy the good guy, the good guy the bad guy and so on and (almost) no one knew who is who. Dizzy yet?
Kristine Schachinger has 17 years digital experience including a focus on website design and implementation, accessibility standards and all aspects of website visibility involving SEO, social media and strategic planning. She additionally specializes in site health auditing, site forensics, technical SEO and site recovery planning especially when involving Google algorithms such as Penguin and Panda. Her seventeen years in design and development and eight years in online marketing give her a depth and breadth of understanding that comes from a broad exposure to not only digital marketing, but the complete product lifecycle along with the underlying technology and processes. She is a well known speaker, author and can be found on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.
If your site gets most of its traffic from Paid Search, you should ask yourself the same kinds of questions. Is this because you have decided to use aggressive advertising to give your business a nice big push? Is the paid search bringing in plenty of sales for your healthy website? If so, that’s great; this strategy can be seen with some large successful companies. If it’s because you are unsuccessful with organic search so you’re doing paid search instead, you’d probably get a good return on investment if you optimize your website. Typically, the Paid Search results stay about the same, but the Organic Search increases and so do sales.
The first is that it’s caused almost exclusively by users typing an address into their browser (or clicking on a bookmark). The second is that it’s a Bad Thing, not because it has any overt negative impact on your site’s performance, but rather because it’s somehow immune to further analysis. The prevailing attitude amongst digital marketers is that direct traffic is an unavoidable inconvenience; as a result, discussion of direct is typically limited to ways of attributing it to other channels, or side-stepping the issues associated with it.
Hi, thanks for your comment. When you refer to incognito browsing, I think it's important to clarify that referrer data *is* passed between sites. Click on a link whilst in incognito, and the referrer header is passed as usual. The exception is if you're browsing normally, and then opt to open a specific link in incognito mode - this won't pass referrer data.
Clean, fast code is important and you need to be aware of this if you’re using WordPress themes or other CMS platforms that typically come with a lot of bloated code. Despite its chunky build, one of the key benefits of using WordPress is its structure of templates that allow you to create new pages at the push of a button and create content in a visual interface, rather than code everything yourself.

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.
Blog comments have a number of sources of value, and traffic is just one of them. By monitoring your competitors and your betters, you get a keen sense of what the industry is doing and where trends are going. You leave valuable comments and people take notice, including industry influencers and possibly the owners of these top-tier sites. You create a gateway back to your site, and even though the links are nofollowed, they’re still links for people to click. You also build a personal reputation as a commenter around your industry, raising sentiment and value.
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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.

Cool deal. You confirmed something for me. I forget and miss great items to include when I have to leave and come back to a post. I'm not alone there. lol I totally notice the same when it happens to me. The best ones seem to just fall out of the brain to the screen, don't they? Awesome to get to know you a bit better! Like your blog too, I'll catch you later on there. Cheers!
Wonderful little article, lovely detailing and the possible sources of direct traffic which could lead to various positives and negatives to your overall SEO strategies. Direct traffic could be the prime conversion getter for your eCommerce website or could be a flaw in your website as a whole which looks like direct traffic has a correlation with organic traffic as well. As organic traffic increases, your overall direct traffic increases along with it. Does some type of bot activities lead to direct traffic as well?s

The term “organic” refers to something having the characteristics of an organism. Although black hat SEO methods may boost a website’s search engine page rank in the short term, these methods could also get the site banned from the search engines altogether. However, it is more likely that readers will recognize the low quality of sites employing black hat SEO at the expense of the reader experience, which will reduce the site’s traffic and page rank over time.


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.
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.
The term “organic traffic” is used for referring to the visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (“organic”) search results. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which defines the visits generated by paid ads. Visitors who are considered organic find your website after using a search engine like Google or Bing, so they are not “referred” by any other website.
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