In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.
I am actually using a free service called Cloud:flood created by Glen of the ViperChill. I had great success with it, making a file available for download (I shared a list of 140 blogs worth following). It has two options, a person can RT the download that will take new people to a post where the download is (or what ever landing page you want them to come to) or they can share it on Facebook instead of tweeting it.

People find their way to your website in many different ways. If someone is already familiar with your business and knows where to find your website, they might just navigate straight to your website by typing in your domain. If someone sees a link to a blog you wrote in their Facebook newsfeed, they might click the link and come to your website that way.

Brands hold a wealth of customer information that may often not seem applicable to SEO — and many times, it’s not. However, if you’re working with an SEO agency, sometimes sharing this knowledge can provide the missing piece to the puzzle. Knowing something as simple as “Consumer preferences are shifting around the color black” could help explain why your traffic is down if your products are often paired with black shoes. Sometimes it’s as easy as connecting the dots.


Hey Caroline, that is one of the great things, being included like that. Happened to me once, when my favorite blogger asked a question on her FB page and then included the testimonials in one of the pages. So not only did I get a dofollow link from a site that is Alexa less than 5.000 but I was so happy to be featured on her blog. Thanks for the awesome comment and I would love some feedback in a week or so, when the first results come in :)
Another point which you did mention (between the lines: "and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs") but I actually didn't realize enough is that updating backlinks when your site switches from http to https is very important. Redirecting all http traffic to the https version of your site from the server (301) is necessary, but doesn't solve losing referral data. Only updating backlinks, especially those on httpS-sites, does. I'd like to emphasize that!
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.
I am actually using a free service called Cloud:flood created by Glen of the ViperChill. I had great success with it, making a file available for download (I shared a list of 140 blogs worth following). It has two options, a person can RT the download that will take new people to a post where the download is (or what ever landing page you want them to come to) or they can share it on Facebook instead of tweeting it.
A link in the comment itself may or may not be called for. I recommend only including a link of you have a post on your site that ties in nicely. If you do, you can use it to expand your comment. “By the way, I wrote a post on this topic as well over here. My conclusions were X and they seem to contradict yours; what are your thoughts?” If you aren’t able to work in a relevant post, limit your link to in your profile for the comment, where the website field sits.
If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.
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.

Visual assets aren’t regular images you might pull from a Google Image search. Instead, these are unique diagrams or infographics you’ve created specifically for your epic content. These kinds of diagrams or infographics explain a theory, communicate a point, or showcase data in exciting and interesting ways—and gain attention (and links) because of it.
Relying too much on one source of traffic is a risky strategy. A particular channel or strategy can be fantastic for generating traffic today, but it doesn’t mean it will stay the same tomorrow. Some sites lost out when Penguin started penalizing on certain SEO linking practices. Others lost out when Facebook decided to massively restrict organic reach. If your site relies exclusively on only one source of traffic, then algorithm changes can create some serious trouble for you. So be aware of the importance of diversifying and know the options available from different traffic sources.
I am actually using a free service called Cloud:flood created by Glen of the ViperChill. I had great success with it, making a file available for download (I shared a list of 140 blogs worth following). It has two options, a person can RT the download that will take new people to a post where the download is (or what ever landing page you want them to come to) or they can share it on Facebook instead of tweeting it.
Brankica, I read through this and subscribed to the comments. Boy, it gets a little frustrating when you get so many emails that aren't to you:) When I first read I understood very lttle (very very lttle). Reading again has really been helpful. I understand these ideas so much better now. It follows that Hindu teaching, "When the student is ready the teacher will appear". You bring such value with your presentation style and willingness to go the extra miles (in this case). I will post exactly what my numbers are about two weeks from now after implementing at least 5 of these. I am hovering around 80 visitors daily in the last 10 days. I know it'll be a good report! Thanks, you rock girl. Live it LOUD!
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.

In most cases, the largest amount of traffic to your site will be comprised of direct and organic traffic. If you have a partnership with an industry association or manufacturer, you may see referral traffic from their website. If you decide to do paid advertising such as pay-per-click marketing, you might see traffic coming in from ad campaigns as well.

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.
IMDB: This site is #1 when it comes to movies and TV shows. Getting a link from IMDB can be worth a ton of value, but they don’t link out to just anyone. However, that’s not reliable or even plausible for most people. Instead, you need to turn to the one location you’re free to post; the IMDB forums. These forums have a huge audience and narrow topics, and like Reddit or web forums in general, they can be great places to show your expertise, link to your content, and promote deals.
I have that problem :) I read all day long sometimes, just to realize at 1 AM that I am supposed to post at 7 AM ( I try to keep the posting schedule) and I have nothing written! Do your blog posts first, if you can write a few in advance that is great, cause that way you can schedule them and feel more relaxed, not being under pressure. Then check out one of these recommended sites. With for example Yahoo answers, you can spend 10-15 minutes every day and answer 3 questions in that time. Out of those 3 one can have a link. Not too much effort but can bring nice results!
If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.
Organic search traffic used to just mean the amount of traffic that came to your site via someone who found your site using a search engine. Then, you could drill down into more detail to see which keyword they searched to get to your website. For example, we might learn that someone came to HubSpot.com by searching the keyword phrase "inbound marketing." This is important to know because it helps businesses understand which keywords are driving the most traffic, leads, and customers so they can develop better-informed content and keyword strategies.
One of the things that can slow-bleed the traffic from your site is the quality (or lack thereof) of the content you publish on your site. Previous Google updates like Panda have already been released specifically to deal with the issue of low-quality content on websites. Long story short: Panda intended to stop sites with bad content from appearing in the search results.
In all of the above cases, you’ve potentially found a page on your website that could turn into a keyword monster with a little extra content and keyword integration. Although we’ve discussed blog posts in this guide, don’t completely overlook the other pages on your website – these tips will work to increase organic traffic on all pages, not just individual blog posts.
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.
What about Twithelp? I just discovered them, and went a little hog wild posting answers for people with various natural parenting questions. I'm afraid I might've spammed my feed, I was having so much fun. Oops. =) I like the Craigslist idea, as well. Even though right now I don't have any informational products to sell or for free download on my blog yet, I started wondering if I shouldn't advertise there as a natural parenting consultant, and offer to visit people's homes or meet them for an hour or two of consult with their little ones. I could do this locally very, very easily! Thanks again, Brankica! (I promise, I'm not stalking you! lol) Delena
It increases relevancy: Siloing ensures all topically related content is connected, and this in turn drives up relevancy. For example, linking to each of the individual yoga class pages (e.g. Pilates, Yoga RX, etc) from the “Yoga classes” page helps confirm—to both visitors and Google—these pages are in fact different types of yoga classes. Google can then feel more confident ranking these pages for related terms, as it is clearer the pages are relevant to the search query.
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