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.
When you run an email marketing campaign, we hope you're including links in that email that lead recipients back to your website -- to read more content, convert, whatever. When you take a look at email marketing as a source of traffic, you'll be able to see how much traffic is sent to your website due to email marketing campaigns you've sent out. That's how we found out, for instance, that driving blog email subscriptions was extremely important to the growth of a business blog -- because many of the visits we receive each month come from subscribers who get pinged in their inboxes that a new blog post is published, prompting a click through to the post! Just be sure to include tracking tokens in the links of your email, otherwise the clicks won't be properly bucketed under the email marketing source.
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.
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
It might happen to have some lost links from now and then or a broken page due to some crawling issue or something similar. Yet, when your broken pages and links form up a figure just as big as your phone number, then you might be facing a problem; in terms of site user experience and organic traffic as well. Your bounce rate will increase, your overall usability, you will be loosing links and therefore you will start asking yourself “why did my organic traffic drop”?
Lol, start from the middle :) Yeah, Squidoo is doing great and I know they are cleaning out all the time when they see a lousy lens. They have angels over there that report stuff like that (I am an angel myself on Squidoo :) And it is even not that hard to make money over there which I always suggest to beginners that don't have money to invest in blogs and sites.

That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
Have you conisidered traffic exchanges, or blog exchanges. After submitting your URL and signing up to about 10 exchanges, it takes about an hour clicking through all 10 surf sights at a time. But it does give you some good traffic. I reciently started doing it and I am now getting around 200 visitors a day. That is just from traffic exchanges. not bad from just one type of traffic source

Many bloggers don’t get time to maintain their blog frequency thus search engine bots also don’t like such blogs much. It is not that tough to maintain blog frequency, just need to be bit organized. But writing post frequently doesn’t mean that you write articles not related to your niche. Always write article related to your niche and take care about keywords.
The term “organic” refers to something having the characteristics of an organism. Although black hat SEO methods may boost a website’s search engine page rank in the short term, these methods could also get the site banned from the search engines altogether. However, it is more likely that readers will recognize the low quality of sites employing black hat SEO at the expense of the reader experience, which will reduce the site’s traffic and page rank over time.

There are two ways to hook up interviews. The first is the manual option. Identify sites and specific people you want to interview, or who you would like to interview you, and approach them about it. Send them a message asking if they would be willing to interview you, or saying that you’re available if they would like to interview you about something specific related to your industry. In the second case, generally try to have a specific subject they’ve talked about recently, a press release of your own that might intrigue them, or a case study with data they might want to use. Something to sweeten the pot, basically.
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.

On the other hand, structured data are also a real asset to increase your organic traffic and improve your CTR. They refers to values that help search engines categorize and index your content in a creative ways for the user. While there is no direct correlation between those data and a SEO improvement, structured data can really help you boost your visibility in SERPs.


Referral means people clicked on a link somewhere else. This can be email or social, but is mostly links on other websites. If you switch the view in the Channels pie chart to Sources/Mediums, as we did for the screenshot below, you can see your most important links. For our lab site, Pinterest is major, as are Google’s educators’ sites and several homeschool sites. We can click on Acquisitions> Referrals to see more. Referral traffic can be a little confusing because it overlaps with Email and Social; more on that later.
Brankica, aloha. Yet another great article. With the in-depth info and resources you have been giving us, I don't know how you have time for anything else. This is another one that will live on my computer. You mention several words/places that I have not seen before. Look forward to exploring. Off to tweet. Will be working on a 51 for you. Take good care, my friend. Aloha. Janet
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?
This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.
Man I need to sleep after reading all this. Just thinking about doing all these is making me tired! Also reading all the stuff I'm *not* doing is embarrassing me. I've found that forum posting works great if you're really into the niche. If you're just there for the links it becomes a chore and people can tell. I've never thought about submitting images to Reddit. I see a lot of traffic coming in from Google Images, so I should probably give it a shot. This is a bad-ass post, Brankica!
Brankica, Gooooood...ness! Where to start giving you props on this VERY well developed post. Absolutely brilliant. You have covered so much, so many areas and done it extremely well. Two items that grabbed me the most, as I have commented time and again about where I got my blogging start, and that is through freelance writing. So, I have always limited myself by using this form of media. Video / photo journalism are brilliant forms of communication, but I've always said, "Ah, that's for someone else..." And I noticed that you lightly touched on e-zines (article submissions). These will become viable again as they make adjustments. Anyway, I could go on forever. Again, you have done a fantastic job with this post. All the best, Bryan
AllRecipes: This site is one of the larger recipe-focused sites on the web, and it also has a reputation amongst foodies for having a ton of comments about “this recipe was terrible, also I made X, Y, and Z substitutions.” You, too, can take advantage of these recipe comments to promote your own changed version of the recipe, if you have a cooking blog.
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.)
We used to like best to see a fairly balanced mix, back when there were mostly just three sources: Organic, Direct, and Referral. Organic Search traffic is a good sign of general site health, it’s usually the top source of conversions, and it generally shows great ROI. Direct traffic is often the people who love your site or are coming back to buy after they found you in some other way. These two groups of visitors are probably the ones that bring you the most sales or leads.
The other way visitors can access your website is by coming from other websites; in this instance, the user lands on your website after following a link from another site. The link that the user clicked on is referred to as a “backlink,” as it links back to your website. This traffic is much more beneficial to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website as opposed to direct traffic, which has little to no effect. The reason is that Google and other search engines interpret backlinks as little doses of credibility for your website. If other credible websites are linking to your site, that must mean it is comprised of relevant and accurate content, which is exactly what search engines want.
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.
Talk about a blog post that's worth bookmarking and reading over and over!! Nicely done Sharp Shooter. There are just too many here that I don't even think of looking at (and even a few I've never heard of) and now I'm feeling kinda silly that I have all these resources to take advantage of and I don't. I'm just gonna have to count on you to remind me and give me a good kick in the toosh every so often lol! This is beyond useful Brankica. I hope I'll smarten up and take some of your awesome advice here! Thanks for writing this up for us. You rock "Mon..y" lol ;)
So much traffic sources here, that I have not even come across. While there are the "most popular" ones, half of the sites you mentioned here are relatively new to me, so they all will be worth checking out. You are right about "forums" though, and although I am basically stuck with two (warrior and another that is unrelated), it does provide you some traffic provided as always, that you provide good feedback, help people, engage effectively with the community and of course, having a good and well structured signature :) Finally published :) Hopefully on your way to 300+ RTs, LOL
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.
Make a campaign on microworkers about "Post my Link On Relevant Forums". Currently Micoworkers has about 850.000 freelance workers worldwide. You know that posting a link on Forums is not that easy. There would be thousands workers out of your campaign after they're trying hard the get a forum that accepts a link within their post. But the benefit for you is that they have visited your link to understand your site to search a relevant forum for your link. On this campaign you only accept real clickable link on forums. From about 850.000 there will be ten to hundred thousands freelancers who are interested to work on your campaign "if " you make a long lasting campaign(s) by hiring at least 200 posisions and teasing among 850.000 workers by paying $0.30 - $0.50 once one successfully posted your link on a relevant forum.
Well as noted in the post it is not just above the links that was only one key part of a wider strategy. This website in question has deep levels of content. So it is not just about a blog section, they have numerous high quality content sections we have developed over time. It would not be advisable ever to attack competitors sites with low quality links.
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.

You might remember “Face Off” , a movie from ‘97 where Nicolas Cage is a terrorist and John Travolta is an FBI agent. And, as it happens in movies, they became obsessed with one another. Travolta needs information from Cage’s brother, so he undergoes an operation in which he gets Cage’s face; a few plot twists later and Cage has Travolta’s. They continue to pursue each other with new identities, the bad guy the good guy, the good guy the bad guy and so on and (almost) no one knew who is who. Dizzy yet?
In the end of the day it depends on the size of the website you are working with and how well known the brand is in the market. You can adapt some of the strategies listed above in the post on scale and it can have a highly positive impact on a web property, the property in question is a real content house so any thing is possible. What else do you suggest we should do I will advise you if it has been done already?

As we mentioned before, when someone finds your site via a link on a social network, they'll be bucketed under social media as a traffic source. This could include someone tweeting out a link, or it could include you posting a link to your Facebook page. If it's you doing the posting, you can also add a tracking token before posting to track those links as part of a larger campaign for you to analyze later!


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.
The strength of your link profile isn’t solely determined by how many sites link back to you – it can also be affected by your internal linking structure. When creating and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.
The truth is that a major problem for search engines is to determine the original source of content that is available on multiple URLs. Therefore, if you are having the same content on http as well as https you will “confuse” the search engine which will punish you and you will suffer a traffic loss. This is why it’s highly important to use rel=canonical tags. What exactly is this?

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.


Note: Google made a change a few years ago to how they track keywords and it has had a big impact on the discovery process. Before the change, Google would show which keywords consumers were using to find your website, making it easy to understand where and how your website was ranking. Google changed their tracking system so that any users who are logged into a Google account while searching will no longer have their keywords tracked as their Google activity remains encrypted. Due to this, when looking at Organic Traffic reports you will see (not provided) as a keyword throughout the reports – this often makes up over 90% of organic traffic and requires us to dig a bit more creatively to find what we need.
Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.

Referral traffic is the third most important source, bringing 8.3% of total traffic to the leading retailers’ websites. There are four online retailers that receive significantly more referral traffic than others: Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and Gap. Live.com is their leading referral source sending nearly 3% of traffic to these sites. Also, we see that Amazon often directs its visitors to Walmart , which brings this company 3% of its traffic. And Amazon itself receives most of its traffic from Amazon-affiliated sources such as Primevideo.com and Audible.com.
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.
Encourage incoming links. Google prioritises sites that have a lot of incoming links, especially from other trustworthy sites. Encourage clients, friends, family members, partners, suppliers, industry mavens and friendly fellow bloggers to link to your site. The more incoming links you have the higher your site will rank. But beware SEO snake oil salesmen who try to trick Google with spammy links from low-reputation sites. Some links can actually damage your SEO.
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