A great way to break your web traffic without even noticing is through robots.txt. Indeed, the robots.txt file has long been debated among webmasters and it can be a strong tool when it is well written. Yet, the same robots.txt can really be a tool you can shoot yourself in the foot with. We’ve written an in-depth article on the critical mistakes that can ruin your traffic in another post. 

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.
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.
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?
This section is particularly helpful when looking at organic results from search engines, since it will let you know which search queries resulted in engaged traffic. Below is another example from a site that focuses on electronic components. Overall, the Google organic source was well behind the site average, but some specific search queries were actually performing better than average.
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.
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.
According to our data, twenty-three out of the twenty-five largest retailers use Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are cost-per-click ads that are purchased through AdWords to promote products. Google initially launched Product Listing Ads in the US market in 2011. However, the advertising format experienced an astronomical rise around 2014, when the search engine launched the feature in other countries. Today, PLAs account for 43 percent of all retail ad clicks and a staggering 70 percent of non-branded clicks!

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:

×