Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.
Now that we have the data we want in the chart, we use the advanced search to filter it down to only the traffic we want to see. Click the blue “Advanced” link beside the search bar that is just to the top right of your list of landing pages. This will open the Advanced search screen, where we want to setup our query. In the green drop down, choose “Medium” and in the text box at the end of the row we type “organic”. Click the Apply button below the query builder to apply this search.
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 big other search engine people recommend is, of course, Bing. Bing and Yahoo have something of an alliance, with Yahoo taking their data primarily from the Bing index, so appealing to either one is the same as appealing to both. SEO for Bing is a little different than it is for Google, though. Exact match keywords tend to have greater weight, for one thing. Bing also has a bit more of an emphasis on links from edu and gov sites.

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.)


The amount of dark social that comprises one's direct traffic is going to vary. For example, you might be diligent about incorporating tracking tokens into your email marketing campaigns, and asking your co-marketing partners to do the same when they promote your site content. Great. You won't have a huge chunk of traffic dumped into direct traffic that should really go into email campaigns. On the other hand, perhaps you're embroiled in a viral video firestorm, and a video on your site gets forwarded around to thousands of inboxes ... you don't exactly have control over that kind of exposure, and as a result you'll be seeing a lot of traffic without referral data in the URL that, consequently, gets bucketed under direct traffic. See what I mean? It depends.
11th point to me would be too look at your social media properties, work out how you can use them to assist your SEO strategy. I mean working on competitions via social channels to drive SEO benefit to your main site is great, working on re-doing your YouTube videos to assist the main site and also working on your content sharing strategy via these social sites back to the main site.
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.
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.
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.
Sanjeev, I really appreciate the feedback. I am glad you actually put to use these tips and made them work for you. I love hearing people getting results from my tips :) Is there such a thing as Ph.D in traffic generation? LOL, I know some that would love the title, but somehow never really walk the walk... Now about those leads and closures, I will have to consult you, seems like you know some things way better than I do, I would like to see how that happens! Thank you so much for the comment and I hope you will have even better results in few weeks!
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
That's way easier to do when you understand what all the things you're measuring actually mean. The first place I always start when evaluating a business' marketing is figuring out where the heck all their site traffic, leads, and customers come from. But it occurred to me -- if you don't even know what all those channels mean or how they're bucketed as traffic sources to your website -- it's probably pretty hard for you to start that self-evaluation.
Hey Mavis, thanks for that :) I wrote down all the ideas from the comments as well so there are at least 65 ideas now, lol. I just wish we all had more time in a day to really work on all of them. I guess all that testing and tracking comes now so we can focus on the best for our blogs. But do I even need to say how much I hate testing and tracking.

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+.
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.
This is a fantastic list! I thought I had it covered, but I'm only half way there. I can't wait to tackle some of these. It can all get overwhelming at times, because there's so much information and so many resources out there. I would like to take advantage of Facebook and Google ads, but I'm not sure if they'll be worth the investment when compared to everything else out there. I just started guest posting, I have three due this weekend. And I'm going to start writing articles for Biznik.com - which is a great site and has put me in touch with loads of local people. Love it. The forums is an area that I just recently started dancing around it and I'm still finding my way. Thanks for sharing this great information.
Woah Brankica. I came over to support you because you are a good friend and you deserve it, but now that I am here, I am supporting you because this post is friggin insane!!! Fark, so glad I am NOT in this contest now, how could I compete with this?!?! Honestly Brankica, this post deserves to win because its genuinely one of the most thorough and easy to digest posts on traffic generation that I have EVER read. Respect
Wow, what a massive post Brankica! I love it. :) I especially liked your suggestion to answer questions on answer sites. I've tried Yahoo Answers before, though didn't do much with it. I'll definitely give it another go in the future though! Man, just when I was tidying up my to-do list, you had to make it longer for me. ;) Thanks for such an awesome read! By the way, I found this post on StumbleUpon (crazy how the world works). =p Christina
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.
Hey Sheila, I think offline marketing can work amazing, as long as the URL is catchy and easy to remember, as you say. I am sorry that I messed up some people's plans of blog development with these new traffic generation ideas, but if they get some results from it, I am sure gonna be glad! Thanks for the comment and hope to hear some good feedback from you :)

To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
Wow Brankica, what a list! Completely and utterly usable list that I am sure to apply in my niche. Very detailed post especially as you stated how to make the most of even the well known ones. We usually overlook the offline traffic generation forgetting that once upon a time, there was no internet. Slideshare sounds like something I could use. This post is unbeatable! Good job!
You should definitely listen to than man. He knows what is working and that is why all the SBI sites are so successful (at least for those that actually apply his tips, lol). Not going to tell you what to do, but try other free sources before spending on Adwords. I actually think ADW is great for landing pages, where you are selling something that will make you a nice amount of money, but it is hard to get them to work if you are not an expert. Actually what I am trying to say is that if you are trying to just get more traffic, blog commenting would be much better. OK, all the free resources need time, but they can often convert better than others. PreSell and SEO the SBI way are a guarantee of a successful site (talking from experience here). Thanks for the comment and waiting for more feedback :)
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.
If you check out some of the suggestions below this though, you're likely to find some opportunities. You can also plug in a few variations of the question to find some search volume; for example, I could search for "cup of java" instead of "what is the meaning of a cup of java" and I'll get a number of keyword opportunities that I can align to the question.

Hey Brankica, This is a great post. I loved it. I am a newbie in the world of blogging just 1 month old. I am really happy with my blogging. The problem here is that, i get a very less amount of traffic and almost no comments at all. I will try some of your tips you have given here and then tell you how it really worked out for me. Thanks , it was a lot of information which i never ever heard. hope it will be useful for me. Thanks again, for the greatest post i have ever read


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.

Hey Gibson, What an awesome idea - PRINT! I really wish some of these list posts had that option sometimes. I'm still one of those old fashioned people that likes to print things out and manually cross off and stuff. Plus I really miss hole punching stuff to put in a binder - these days it's all about bookmarking and Instapaper lol. I might steal your idea and print it out myself hehe :). Hope you don't mind me dropping in here but just had to say that. Hey Hesham - that would be an awesome idea - to have a print button somehow on posts - or maybe list posts. What do you think? Yes? No? Maybe? haha Cheers guys


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.
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.

Hey Sheila, I think offline marketing can work amazing, as long as the URL is catchy and easy to remember, as you say. I am sorry that I messed up some people's plans of blog development with these new traffic generation ideas, but if they get some results from it, I am sure gonna be glad! Thanks for the comment and hope to hear some good feedback from you :)
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.
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The term was first used by Internet theorist John Kilroy in a 2004 article on paid search marketing.[citation needed] Because the distinction is important (and because the word "organic" has many metaphorical uses) the term is now in widespread use within the search engine optimization and web marketing industry. As of July 2009, "organic search" is now common currency outside the specialist web marketing industry, even used frequently by Google (throughout the Google Analytics site, for instance).

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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.

This is a great piece of work for references, lots of info on this, Answer sites have become less and less popular, but the you can really build your name on these sites such as forums, if you are consistent in answering questions frequently. Out of the points you have mentioned, I relay enjoy the "Guest Blogging" point, as this is a win win situation, not just putting out content on other websites, but also welcoming guest on my own site, giving readers a change and a different style of article, as everyone is unique in their own way. I'm actually posting an interview tomorrow with a well known name in the guest blogging. Whichever point one choices from above, consistency is the key, there is no point doing it once, but it should be done on frequently, and over time with patience you will start to see the rewards.
I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
Understanding the intention of your organic visitors is the heart of search engine optimization. Before you dive into finding keywords for your website or do any other SEO hack to optimize your site, it’s worth taking a moment to determine whether your website is driving the right traffic to your site and if it really delivers what your organic visitors want.
Looking at the keyword rankings and organic landing pages provided a little bit of insight into the organic traffic loss, but it was nothing definitive. Because of this, I moved to the on-page metrics for further clarity. As a disclaimer, when I talk about on-page metrics, I’m talking about bounce rate, page views, average page views per session, and time on site.
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