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.
Direct traffic is people who type your URL into their navigation bar, or who use a bookmark. These are your regular visitors, people who’ve discovered you in some other way and are now coming back, and — less now than in the past — people who type in a URL they’ve seen on your offline ads or who guess your web address based on your company name. Direct traffic is often the highest converting kind, but it can also be regular blog readers or your own staff. Filter your workers out if at all possible to keep your data clean. If you can’t filter them, at least ask them to use direct methods (rather than search, for example) and you may be able to identify it when you work in Analytics. Any traffic that Google can’t identify will also show up in Direct traffic, and that can include ads if you haven’t hooked up your ad accounts with your analytics, email or SMS campaigns if you haven’t tagged them for Google, and other sources that aren’t identified. Tag well and you’ll see less of this.
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
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.
Would you mind sharing your stumbleupon user name with me? I would love to follow you and your shares! :) I am beginning to get more active on SU and it is definitely paying off. I have had a few posts in the last several weeks that have brought in 600-700 visits each. :) In regards to your "challenge" I am going to try out paper.li I will let you know how it goes.
Wow, great post, Brankica!!! I've used Flickr in the past and while I haven't gotten much traffic from it, I've gotten a ton of backlinks. Like there's this one photo in particular that I tagged as "SEO" and included a link in the description back to the blog post I used the photo in. I guess there are lots of autoblogs that scrape stuff like SEO-related images, and since they scrape the description, too, I get lots of automatic backlinks. Sure, they're crappy backlinks, but still backlinks :)
This is my first time on your blog and I found it when I was reading up on who won the contest at Famous Bloggers. I can definitely see why now! I spent a good amount of time reading and going through all the advice that you've stated in this post since I am fairly new to blogging. I believe one of the biggest hurdles that I will come across when trying to further my blogging experience is driving traffic to my blog. I will make sure to apply many of the techniques you've listed in this post to my blog and hopefully I'll see some traffic! I will definitely continue to read your informative posts. Thanks! :)
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 :)

Fantastic post Tom! There's a lot of confusion on direct traffic to begin with. These are even more finer nuances that you have explained. I have a client whose top source of traffic is direct, and part of it is maybe due to the fact that they don't do any promotion, and it's mostly shared around internally within their team. But I just noticed that their URL is http and not https so this might be something for me to take back to the team. Thanks!


Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:
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