But now, that is all changing. We can still see all of that information ... sometimes. Things got a whole heck of a lot more complicated a little over a year ago, when Google introduced SSL encryption . What does that mean? It means Google started encrypting keyword data for anyone conducting a Google search while logged in to Google. So if you're logged in to, say, Gmail when you do a search, the keyword you used to arrive on a website is now encrypted, or hidden. So if that website drilled down into its organic search traffic source information, they'd see something like this:

You had to know social media would be on the list. I generally recommend that a site only have a presence on 2-3 social networks, at least while they’re small. It’s a lot of work to maintain, engage, and update a social network profile, and keep its messaging consistent with your branding. You can always spay someone to do it for you, but then it’s not a free traffic source, is it?


For example, sometimes this could include social media websites, sometimes it might not -- in HubSpot's software , social media websites are not included in referral traffic because they're included in a separate "social media" bucket. Another instance of variance is whether subdomains are included -- HubSpot software, for example, includes subdomains (like academy.hubspot.com) as a traffic source under Referrals. And sometimes it's not that tricky -- you'll always see third-party domains, like mashable.com, for instance -- right under here. This is particularly helpful if you're trying to ascertain which web properties are great for co-marketing, SEO partnerships, and guest blogging opportunities.
What does that mean for your website? Organic Traffic is any of the customers that come to your website without clicking a link on another site (referral traffic) or clicking an ad (paid traffic) – these visitors used a known search engine and clicked a link to view your website. Much of this traffic is customers from Google, but it also includes other common search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Now that we know what it is, let’s dive into understanding how this information can help you improve your website.

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.
Understanding how people landed on your website is a key component of optimization. If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics (and if you haven’t you should), you’ve probably seen the words “Direct,” “Referral,” and “Organic” in relation to your traffic. These are the sources where your users come from — or what Google calls channels. But what do these words really mean, and why do they matter?
Implementing structured data markup (such as that from schema.org) might seem like a one-time project, but that “set it and forget it” mentality can land you in hot water. You should be monitoring the appearance of your rich snippets on a regular basis to ensure they are pulling in the correct information. As you change the content on your website, this can alter the markup without warning.
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.
Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.

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 :)


Hi Brankica, wow what an extensive list. As a one-month old blogger this list is overwhelming so there were four things I have noted and will look into further are stumbleupon, digg, roundups and vark. I hope to implement them soon and will keep track of the results. As for the other sources, I will come back to this post to see what other sources to use next. I am curious to know from your experience, what are the Top 10 most effective traffic sources?
I feel that an article is only good if it adds value to the reader, and this one qualifies as a great article because it has shown me quite a few new ways in which to generate traffic to my blogs. I would like to tell you that I had read your suggestions about using flickr images on blog for traffic generation some other place as well and I have religiously followed that on my blog and today at least 15% of the traffic to my site comes from there! I am therefore going to follow the other suggestions as well (the ones that I am not following now) and hope to take my blog from Alexa 500K to sub 100K in the next couple of month!
Hey Tia, thank you so much for the comment and glad you liked it. I like Hub pages and Squidoo for traffic but the money is equal to none compared what you have to do to get so many views, lol, guess no pain no gain. I am also not worried about Ezines because I actually wrote unique articles and did my best to make them great quality ones. Guess that is why I posted just a few of them, lol. But they still get me nice amount of traffic. I like it more that I didn't have to post 200 articles to make it worth. Thanks again for the comment!
The moral of this story is that everything is contextual. And this applies to everyday happenings and to your online marketing, traffic sources, and conversion rates as well. It happens that what looks like an opportunity to be actually a setback and vice-versa. We all make changes within our sites with the purpose of having tons of traffic. We are in a continuous race for inbound links, domain authority, technical SEO, diagnosing traffic drops, search volume, keyword research and we forget to take a few steps back and see how all of these influence our overall site’s performance. We’ve documented the ranking drop issue in an earlier post as well and you can take a look at it as well to better understand this phenomenon.
Hi Matt, realizing now how difficult it is to run a blog, trying to promote it and carry on with your daily activities. I would say it's a full time job. Once you thing you done learning about something, something else is coming :). My blog is about preparing for an ironman so I need to add the training on top of it. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us so we can keep focus!!!
Hey Delena, I am not worried about you stalking me, I like it :) I think you can advertise any service on Craigslist. The idea you have is awesome. Not only you can point your ad to your blog but also make some extra cash. And instead just going locally, I am sure there is something you can do worldwide, like give people advice over Skype or something. Thanks for the awesome comment and the twithelp suggestion.
There are a few key pieces of information that we want to look at with Organic Traffic. The first piece of information that helps us frame the website performance is the total percentage of traffic that is organic traffic. These numbers will vary greatly based on your AdWords spend, how many email campaigns you send and many other factors. To view this figure, we want to go to the Acquisition section of your Analytics dashboard and then proceed to Channels.
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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