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 in your reconsideration request make sure you are honest and tell Google everything that the prior agency was up too. Be sure to include all Excel information of removed links and say you are going to make an ongoing effort to remove everything negative. It is common knowledge that Google may not accept your first reconsideration request, so it may take a few times.
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."

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+.
Basically, what I’m talking about here is finding websites that have mentioned your brand name but they haven’t actually linked to you. For example, someone may have mentioned my name in an article they wrote (“Matthew Barby did this…”) but they didn’t link to matthewbarby.com. By checking for websites like this you can find quick opportunities to get them to add a link.

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.


We are in the SEO industry for a while now, wearing many hats: digital marketers, tool developers, advisers, researchers, copywriters, etc. But first of all, we are, just like you, site owners. And we’ve been through ups and downs regarding organic traffic, and we were in the situation of trying to understand why the Google traffic dropped dramatically at some point as well. Having all these in mind, we’ve thought of easing your work, and we’ve put together a list with the top 16 reasons that can cause sudden traffic drop, unrelated to Google algorithm changes or penalties.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest downsides to SEO is that Google is constantly making changes to their algorithm; they come out of nowhere, and they can drop your domain authority by 5, 10, even 15 points and it almost feels like you need to start optimizing all over again. It's frustrating, it's hard work and the results aren't always visible - but if you can get SEO right, it can truly be an amazing source of traffic.
Although it may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, the data still seem to hold true. Organic is simply better for delivering relevant traffic. The only channel that performs better in some capacities is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions, not overall traffic delivery (Paid Search only accounted for 10 percent of overall total traffic).

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+.
Looking back at our lab site, we can see that Organic Search is doing well for us. However, if we put a little effort into social media, we’d probably see growth in that sector — and a bigger pie. We’ve got some strong referrals (and high quality links that improve our search presence), but if we put some work into building more of those links, we’d probably see more referral traffic and, again, a bigger pie. Should we add paid search? For this site, no. It’s part of our community service and has little revenue potential, so we wouldn’t see much ROI from ads.
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 :)
That helped explain some of the organic traffic loss, but knowing that this client had gone through a few website redesigns, I wanted to make sure that all redirects were done properly. Regardless of whether or not your traffic has changed, if you’ve recently done a website redesign where you’re changing URLs, it’s smart to look at your top organic landing pages from before the redesign and double check to make sure they’re redirecting to the correct pages.
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.
Love the five different area of investigation that you went over, great way to analyze and diagnosis the issue. I would also definitely agree doing a rankings comparison between the two time frames, and not only check what your Google ranking is, but also track the search volume for your keywords to see if it has fluctuated or gone down. Google Trends is a great tool for this as well, as one of your keywords that your ranking for may have just lost popularity online.
You might see referral traffic coming from search engines like Google or Bing, a blog, newsletter, or email or social media sites like Facebook. Referrer traffic could be organic or through a paid search like cost-per-click (CPC) advertising or a paid advertising campaign that you have created (but in many cases, the paid advertising will show up in its very own Paid traffic type).
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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
Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.
Nice post. I was wondering if all this content of your strategy was been writien in blog of the site, or if you added to content in some other specific parts of the sites. I don't believe 100% in the strategy of reomoving links. If Google just penalize you taking into account your inbound likes, It would be so easy to attack your competitors just by buying dirty link packages targeting to their sites.
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.
For many startups, this means doing enterprise SEO on a small business budget, which comes with a few compromises. The problem is, Google doesn’t accept compromises when it comes to search optimisation and you need to get the fundamentals spot on. The good news is, the sooner you get these right, the faster you’ll be able to build a self-sustaining SEO strategy that doesn’t come back to bite you in the budget later.

Use social media. Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. All of these activities help to get your name out and website address out on the internet. Read about how we doubled our social media audience in a week. Add share buttons to your site to make it easy for people to share your content. And write content worthy of sharing.


Hi Brankika, With respect to EZA, I no longer submit to them. They rejected some of my article for saying that the page I was linking to did not contain enough information. I linked to my blog and to the original article. I believe they didn't like the link to the original article. That being the case, they no longer allow one of the cardinal rules of syndication as per Google itself..."Link To The Original". Once they stopped allowing that, they were no longer useful to me. Thanks for the great resource. Mark
The main tip about using answer sites is not to link to your blog every time you answer a question. Especially if the post is not closely related to the question. Answer some questions for the sake of answering them. You will always have links in your bio/profile, so if you answer a question like a rock star (without a link),  some traffic will come from people checking out your profile.
I am too much late to commenting on this article. I want to read "How much get Organic traffic by SEO", found your your article on top & really very interesting. James Norquay, you did good research.I think Now days google block mostly SEO activities. Is this worthy for current marketing scnerio?If any other post to related strategy for increasing Organic traffic, you can reffer me.
Great article! SEM Rush's new ranking study of 600,000 search queries showed a positive correlation between direct traffic and top rankings. They indicated that Google prioritizes domains with authority and consequently more direct traffic when ranking websites in its search results. See their study here: https://www.semrush.com/ranking-factors/. So, direct traffic can be viewed as a positive ranking correlation.
If you’re building your website from scratch, create your own templates for new pages and important elements so you don’t have to keep typing out the same code. Also make sure you’re familiar with dynamic web pages so you can edit elements like your website’s header in one place instead of having to make the same changes manually across every page.
Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
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
To give you an idea of just how much money is being spent on paid search, take a look at Google. Google's AdWords program is the most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program available today. While the tech giant owns YouTube and Android, among hundreds of other profitable brands, AdWords accounts for roughly 70% of their revenue -- which speaks wonders for its effectiveness.
Unlike text and display ads, PLAs enable e-commerce companies to target specific products and product groups at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. They also help to increase brand awareness as they position their brand in front of a highly targeted audience that is looking for a product the company offers. Typically, a PLA contains a product picture and a price, along with a store brand. So it comes as no surprise that Walmart, as one of the world’s largest online retailers, appeared to be the undisputed leader in using PLAs, with almost 604,000 keywords used in April. The company is followed by Home Depot, which sells various home improvement items and targets 139,000 keywords.
That helped explain some of the organic traffic loss, but knowing that this client had gone through a few website redesigns, I wanted to make sure that all redirects were done properly. Regardless of whether or not your traffic has changed, if you’ve recently done a website redesign where you’re changing URLs, it’s smart to look at your top organic landing pages from before the redesign and double check to make sure they’re redirecting to the correct pages.
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