The "Direct Session" dimension, not to be confused with the default channel grouping or source dimension, is something different. It can tell you if a session was genuinely from its reported campaign (reported as No), or if it was simply bucketed there due to the last non-direct click attribution model (reported as Yes). I didn't mention this dimension in the article because it has some flaws which can cause brain bending complexities, plus it goes a little beyond the scope of this article, which I tried to gear more towards marketers and non-expert GA users. It's certainly an interesting one, though.
Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.
The top five leaders in paid traffic (Google Adwords) are the same companies that lead in search, with Amazon again on top. Leading retailers don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket, and they are willing to invest heavily in pay-per-click campaigns. Clearly, PPC has worked for them because we see four out of the top five spenders are the leaders in annual sales numbers.
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.
James, you give a great template for how a business needs to move forward in their chosen niche online. Quite informative and the meeting of minds has been something a number of us have done online and in person to gain better insight into our small similar businesses. Thank you for sharing your detailed approach to increasing organic traffic...content still is king.
If your site gets most of its traffic from Paid Search, you should ask yourself the same kinds of questions. Is this because you have decided to use aggressive advertising to give your business a nice big push? Is the paid search bringing in plenty of sales for your healthy website? If so, that’s great; this strategy can be seen with some large successful companies. If it’s because you are unsuccessful with organic search so you’re doing paid search instead, you’d probably get a good return on investment if you optimize your website. Typically, the Paid Search results stay about the same, but the Organic Search increases and so do sales.
For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic traffic pretty similarly and simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines, while direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser. This explanation, however, is too simplified and leaves most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic, especially organic and direct sources.