Traffic from organic search is free and long-lasting, which makes you less dependent on advertising budgets. If you look at the list of the top three American e-commerce retailers, you will find that it matches the above data with the top three companies getting the most organic traffic. This definitely proves that SEO pays off in the long run: you attract quality traffic in large volumes without paying for it directly.
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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!
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.
Ezinearticles.com, although hit by the new Google algorithm, it is a great source of highly targeted traffic. The bounce rate of visitors I get from EZA is always less than 20%! Choosing a good keyword for an article can result in incredible amounts of traffic. I have been receiving a lot of traffic from a single well written article for a year and a half now!
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.

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.
One of the things that makes social media a bit more attractive than search engine optimization is that you get to maintain a bit more control over your success. You can always find new ways of improving your strategy and you can learn from your mistakes and your wins so that you can improve your traffic in the future. The same can't really be said about SEO - although it's very clear what not to do, it's not always as clear exactly what strategies can help you improve your ranking.
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.
The other way visitors can access your website is by coming from other websites; in this instance, the user lands on your website after following a link from another site. The link that the user clicked on is referred to as a “backlink,” as it links back to your website. This traffic is much more beneficial to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website as opposed to direct traffic, which has little to no effect. The reason is that Google and other search engines interpret backlinks as little doses of credibility for your website. If other credible websites are linking to your site, that must mean it is comprised of relevant and accurate content, which is exactly what search engines want.
Brankica Great post. Looks like I've got a few weeks worth of exploring to do - checking out these blog traffic boosting tools and ideas! One question I have: How do you measure the success of each of these tools and tips? Surely you have tried some that were less successful than others. Do you track metrics and weed out the less-than-stellar time-suck ideas? I'd love to hear how you settled on these that you mention in the post. Perhaps there's value in talking a bit about the ones that have fallen by the wayside and why as well.
Cheers for sharing that thread, I'd not read it. I think most of the confusion here arises because of how standard GA reports work on a last non-direct click basis - if there's a previous campaign within timeout, that user will be attributed to that campaign, even if they're technically returning via direct. MCF reports are the exception, of course, given that they show *actual* direct.
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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