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."

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.
Are you currently excluding all known bots and spiders in Google Analytics? If not, you may be experiencing inflated traffic metrics and not even know it. Typically, bots enter through the home page and cascade down throughout your site navigation, mimicking real user behavior. One telltale sign of bot traffic is a highly trafficked page with a high bounce rate, low conversions and a low average time on page.
Direct traffic can encompass a wide range of sources, including those you would have liked to have tracked in analytics. A drop in traffic from a particular source does not necessarily mean a drop in traffic. It could indicate a case in which that source ended up being categorized under Direct traffic. The best advice is - proactively use tracking parameters in cases where you may be risking not properly seeing traffic. There is actually a nice infographic showing the main factors impacting traffic. I use it sometimes to solve the current issues. Taking the right steps to address potentially miscategorized traffic, as well as being upfront with clients about the causes, can help to mitigate problems.
When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.
BrightEdge research supports that a blended approach is best for delivering high performing content. Not only will combining organic and paid search increase website traffic, but it will offer a bigger return on the investment. Take Retail, Technology and Hospitality industries, for example — organic and paid search combined make up more than two-thirds of their total revenue.
If you’ve recently modified your on-page copy, undergone a site overhaul (removing pages, reordering the navigation) or migrated your site sans redirects, it’s reasonable to expect a decline in traffic. After reworking your site content, Google must re-crawl and then re-index these pages. It’s not uncommon to experience unstable rankings for up to a few weeks afterwards.
Plan your link structure. Start with the main navigation and decide how to best connect pages both physically (URL structure) and virtually (internal links) to clearly establish your content themes. Try to include at least 3-5 quality subpages under each core silo landing page. Link internally between the subpages. Link each subpage back up to the main silo landing page.
Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.
Hey there, I had to come back and post some updates. I tried your tips on my brand new blog and got following results. I have to say it is a brand new free wordpress site and I got it to have 30 daily visitors after only 5 days of following your advice. It's been 2 weeks that I am using the tips and I am up to 45 daily visitors.I also made my first money with that blog. Since I am a lot more active on Squidoo, I decided to try some of these ideas over there too, and I had my traffic double in only one week.Thanks and I will be back with more numbers and feedback how I made these traffic sources work for me.
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
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.
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.
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.
Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.
Hey Ryan, glad I could help :) I am going to find them later and steal all of them, lol. You had an idea straight away, but some bloggers get stuck and say "I don't have anything to give away". Yes, you do, everyone has something. You can always turn your best posts in different kinds of media, like PDFs, videos, audios, slideshows and just share them everywhere. Thanks so much for the comment!
The first step that I take is to do a quick Google search to find pages on my domain where I've mentioned the keyword in question so that I can add an internal link. To do this, I'll use the following search query, replacing DOMAIN with your domain name (e.g. matthewbarby.com) and KEYWORD with the keyword you're targeting (e.g. "social media strategy"):
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 :)
For reasons we’ve already discussed, traffic from bookmarks and dark social is an enormously valuable segment to analyze. These are likely to be some of your most loyal and engaged users, and it’s not uncommon to see a notably higher conversion rate for a clean direct channel compared to the site average. You should make the effort to get to know them.
Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
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.
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.

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The SEO landscape has changed enormously in the last years. Organic traffic comes and go, the websites’ performance seems to be as volatile as it gets and at the end of the day, you might ask yourself: why did my organic traffic drop? Did Google change its algorithm again? Was a sort of SEO attack on my site or was it something that I did? And while you keep on searching for the reasons your hard-worked ranks and traffic went down the drain, your frustration gets bigger as the solution to your problem seems increasingly far.

The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.[1]


So, you have downloaded your links profiles on a CSV and you now have an extensive list of all your linked domains. If you have been doing SEO for 8+ years like me you can probably just know from analysis which links are bad from a TLD and URL point of view. If you do not know too much you can use tools such as Link Detox: http://www.linkdetox.com/ to complete analysis of your link profile. I would always consult the advice of an expert SEO in this instance because it is easy for these tools to mistake good and bad links.
This was an extremely comprehensive, well-thought out list Brankica! I would never have thought of eBay or Craigslist- so I thought your spin on that is interesting. I would definitely recommend this list to any newbie blogger. :) So it took me awhile to come up with a #51 just because you seemed to cover everything-lo. It's an angle on the answering questions- volunteer to be interviewed on your niche for other bloggers or on a site like HARO. If you provide some great value, it is the next logical step for something to visit your site to learn more about you. Great work!!
Superb resource list Brankica, thank you. I've also included it this week's Erudition, not just because you're in a competition, but because it really is a resource we should all have bookmarked. Actually, I need to make it a study priority and see how many of the sources I can reasonably use on a regualr basis. Link to Erudition | Help files from Information Junkies Anonymous
Google is currently been inundated with reconsideration requests from webmasters all over the world. On public holidays the Search Quality teams do not look at reconsideration requests. See below analysis. From my experience it can take anywhere from 15-30+ days for Google to respond to reconsideration requests; during peak periods it can even take longer.
Hey Kim, thanks for thinking about the trees, lol. OK, let me think. First, yes it depends on the niche a lot. But I do need to say that it can also depend a lot on the creativity of a blogger. If you know Kiesha from We Blog Better, she is a really creative blogger. She once wrote a post called "What can bag ladies teach us about blogging". And of course, attached a photo of a bag lady. If it was a Flickr photo, you would go back and tell the author you used a photo on your post and tell him the post name. Everyone would be curious to see what the heck is all that about. I wrote about this Flickr tactics on Traffic Generation Cafe. Anyway, why am I mentioning Flickr? Because it would seem that it is the best place to get traffic if you have a photography blog, right? But in Kiesha's example, all you need is some creativity and it can work for every niche. I for example, am hardly using Quora. Everyone else is (well most of everyone, lol). But I am old school and use Yahoo Answers, that almost no one is using. So my results are great with YA. Answer sites require some time, but not more than commenting does and certainly less than guest posting does. And it is fresh traffic, not just bloggers that you connected with. But out of these all, I would focus on the first group, video/audio traffic sources, just because they are kinda up and coming compared to some others. If I can answer additional questions, feel free to add some, not sure if I answered what you needed me to :) Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers, I really appreciate it.
Hey Christy, thanks so much for the comment and I hear about this HARO thing for the first time. I am definitely going to have to check it out. I have this OCD (lol) that as soon as I hear about something new, I gotta join and try it out. This is officially the new item on my to do list that now has only 563 bullet points. Just kiddin', although we all have long to do lists I always find extra time to see what are the things other bloggers talk about. Thanks so much again :)
Comments need special attention to be successful, though. Generally, you will have strict rules to follow. You can’t simply leave a “this was great, hey check out my site” comment. It will either be filtered for spam or it will be ignored. You need an insightful, detailed, and helpful message. You need to expand upon the topic in the post, argue against it, or support it with your own data. The point is to be valuable and attract positive attention.
This is just one of the benefits when you buy social traffic . Building your Facebook and Twitter profiles can not only get you unlimited targeted social traffic, but it can also help to improve your reputation on the internet and with your existing customers. It can also have a viral effect if done correctly that will vastly improve your visibility.
Direct traffic refers to traffic you receive to your website that doesn't come through any other channel. So, when you type www.hubspot.com into your search bar and hit 'Enter,' you're accessing HubSpot.com via direct traffic. If someone posted a link to www.hubspot.com on Facebook, however, and you clicked on that link, your visit would be bucketed in HubSpot.com's social media sources.
Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.
Wow! I have learned so much from you this evening. Thank you. It prompted me to create a list of my own I have sporadically (and unfocused) have been doing myself. I have been using Flickr, but not linking back to my post... shame on me. Going back tomorrow and starting to add links. I do Cinch my articles which can be found on Itunes and I use Odiogo where people can also listen to all of my articles (including the ones I don't personally Cinch). Also, I like Blog Glue to refer and be referred. My main goal is to have a focused plan. I like your recommendation to focus on 5 at a time. Thanks again.
Everyone wants to rank for those broad two or three word key phrases because they tend to have high search volumes. The problem with these broad key phrases is they are highly competitive. So competitive that you may not stand a chance of ranking for them unless you devote months of your time to it. Instead of spending your time going after something that may not even be attainable, go after the low-hanging fruit of long-tail key phrases.
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