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.
Hey James, I LOLed at your comment. In a good way of course. What do you mean you knew about 3 things!? You better get to work then. Just kiddin'. Glad you liked the list and hope you will put it to use. And if you do, I really hope to hear some feedback on how it worked for you. These tips are awesome for websites like those, I have some of those. You should definitely give this list a go, I first tested all these on my main niche site and then on my blog. I can tell you that these sources can make miracles if they are used right.

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.


Look at the biggest startup success stories and analyse their content. Airbnb positions itself as the place to find unique travel experiences with locals, Uber is the cheap, on-demand taxi alternative and Skillshare carved its niche as a free learning exchange platform. They all address their audience concerns in a way nobody else is doing and their content has a friendly, approachable tone – even when we’re talking about software startups like IFTTT or Slack.
Traffic coming from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is free, while traffic generated from PPC (Pay Per Click) ads is not free. PPC ads are displayed above organic search results or on the sidebar of search engine pages for search queries related to their topic. Landing page keywords, ad keywords, CPC (cost per click) bids, and targeting all influence how those ads are “served” or displayed on the page.
On the basis of this article alone, you should be given a Ph.D in internet traffic generation. Absolutely fantastic set of ideas & sources for traffic generation. I had taken a print of this article the first I read it and then took some serious action of some of the ideas that have mentioned here - flickr images, blog commenting, slideshare (this even resulted in some great business leads and closures), sites such as blog engage, blog interact, social media sources such as LinkedIn, forum participation etc. And they have done wonders to my sites. The fact that there are 319 comments here even as I write is testimony to the authenticity of the ideas presented here. Great article which will one day be a classic - if it is not already.
You know, a lot of blog posts promise to show you how to grow your blog and bring traffic in. And then they go and copy/paste a bunch of other bloggers, change two or three words, and then publish. Then wonder why no-one read, commented or shared. Somehow I don't think you'll have this problem, Brankica - this is one of the most solid pieces on traffic generation around. Great stuff, miss, and something every blogger can take something away from.
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.
Overall, these were ten of the key elements which assisted our client in reaching this growth in organic SEO traffic. I hope this guide/case study can assist webmaster's who have been targeted by recent updates over the last 12 months. If you want to learn more about these tactics or have any questions feel free to contact me via Twitter @ https://twitter.com/connections8 or leave a comment below!
For our client: We took the top PPC terms based on conversion and worked these keywords into existing pages on the website. We also created new high-quality content-based pages from these conversion terms. This type of strategy can work very well in assisting overall conversions on the website and driving more revenue. We also conducted a large-scale keyword research project for the client which yielded in uncovering many areas of opportunity for content development and targeting. 
At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.
Superb resource list Brankica, thank you. I've also included it this week's Erudition, not just because you're in a competition, but because it really is a resource we should all have bookmarked. Actually, I need to make it a study priority and see how many of the sources I can reasonably use on a regualr basis. Link to Erudition | Help files from Information Junkies Anonymous
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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.
Simply great and agree with your all subject...! I like the way you explained. Each heading are awesome Create the best quality content and consistently, Long tail keyword is better, Guest blog for SEO is dead, and Aha....Do not anger Google. conclusion is awesome. Hard work and Patient is best practice to see the good results in any field. Really useful and helpful post indeed. Thank you.

Hey Andreas, there are two main reasons I saw for suspending accounts - mean people and too many links. But they come to the same. On Yahoo Answers, like everywhere else, you have competition. They will flag your answer just so their answer would be chosen as the best. On the other hand, putting too many links in your answers can provoke the same thing. I usually put a link in every 3rd or 4th answer I post. And it is usually the best answer I can make. Glad you will try out the other sources, would love to see the results.
Hey Ryan, thanks for including me, I will be over there to thank you as well :) I am glad you liked the post and definitely don't advice on getting into all of them at once, lol. I am the first one that would try all, but I learned that it is the wrong way to go in about anything. The best thing would be choosing one or two of these and tracking results. I learned that Flickr can take too much time for some types of blogs, while others will have great results with it. Depends on the niche a lot. But I know you will do the best thing, you always do! Thanks for the comment and helping me in the contest!
Hey Kim, thanks for thinking about the trees, lol. OK, let me think. First, yes it depends on the niche a lot. But I do need to say that it can also depend a lot on the creativity of a blogger. If you know Kiesha from We Blog Better, she is a really creative blogger. She once wrote a post called "What can bag ladies teach us about blogging". And of course, attached a photo of a bag lady. If it was a Flickr photo, you would go back and tell the author you used a photo on your post and tell him the post name. Everyone would be curious to see what the heck is all that about. I wrote about this Flickr tactics on Traffic Generation Cafe. Anyway, why am I mentioning Flickr? Because it would seem that it is the best place to get traffic if you have a photography blog, right? But in Kiesha's example, all you need is some creativity and it can work for every niche. I for example, am hardly using Quora. Everyone else is (well most of everyone, lol). But I am old school and use Yahoo Answers, that almost no one is using. So my results are great with YA. Answer sites require some time, but not more than commenting does and certainly less than guest posting does. And it is fresh traffic, not just bloggers that you connected with. But out of these all, I would focus on the first group, video/audio traffic sources, just because they are kinda up and coming compared to some others. If I can answer additional questions, feel free to add some, not sure if I answered what you needed me to :) Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers, I really appreciate it.

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.
This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
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.

For many startups, this means doing enterprise SEO on a small business budget, which comes with a few compromises. The problem is, Google doesn’t accept compromises when it comes to search optimisation and you need to get the fundamentals spot on. The good news is, the sooner you get these right, the faster you’ll be able to build a self-sustaining SEO strategy that doesn’t come back to bite you in the budget later.

Unlike text and display ads, PLAs enable e-commerce companies to target specific products and product groups at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. They also help to increase brand awareness as they position their brand in front of a highly targeted audience that is looking for a product the company offers. Typically, a PLA contains a product picture and a price, along with a store brand. So it comes as no surprise that Walmart, as one of the world’s largest online retailers, appeared to be the undisputed leader in using PLAs, with almost 604,000 keywords used in April. The company is followed by Home Depot, which sells various home improvement items and targets 139,000 keywords.

Once you receive a response, it’s time to hand over the list of links and suggest your content. But remember: this isn’t a time to pitch! Instead, your response should aim to point out your content, and suggest that it might make a good addition to their page if they want to add it. By employing this method, the site owner will be far more likely to include your link as a thanks for pointing out their broken links.

Hi Brankica! I had to stop by again and let you know how a few of these ideas of yours are working for me. Purely because of this article, I put an ad on Craigslist for my Natural Parent consulting. Also I started posting a bit on Q&A sites, but I should bump that up. Paper.li didn't make a lot of sense to me until the other day when I was mentioned on Twitter, followed the link, and got to see exactly what it was. Then I went, "Ohhh! That's what she meant!" lol Next on my list is Slideshare. My Beat the Stress articles seem to be the most successful so I'll use those. Maybe I should shift focus a little to stress management and parenting? =) Thanks, as always! I should just print out this list.
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 ;)
Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.
Hey Ryan, thanks for including me, I will be over there to thank you as well :) I am glad you liked the post and definitely don't advice on getting into all of them at once, lol. I am the first one that would try all, but I learned that it is the wrong way to go in about anything. The best thing would be choosing one or two of these and tracking results. I learned that Flickr can take too much time for some types of blogs, while others will have great results with it. Depends on the niche a lot. But I know you will do the best thing, you always do! Thanks for the comment and helping me in the contest!

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!

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.
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People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.
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We are in the SEO industry for a while now, wearing many hats: digital marketers, tool developers, advisers, researchers, copywriters, etc. But first of all, we are, just like you, site owners. And we’ve been through ups and downs regarding organic traffic, and we were in the situation of trying to understand why the Google traffic dropped dramatically at some point as well. Having all these in mind, we’ve thought of easing your work, and we’ve put together a list with the top 16 reasons that can cause sudden traffic drop, unrelated to Google algorithm changes or penalties.
For the short-term, PPC is generally your best bet. The minute your ad runs, it delivers results. But when the budget stops, so do the benefits. Because SEO relies on your website’s content, linking structure, and meta data, developing a thorough strategy that delivers real results takes more time than setting up a PPC campaign. However, SEO’s results may be more valuable to you and your organization in the long run.
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 :)
We want to see landing pages that came from organic searches, so first we need to add to this dataset the parameter “Medium” which is how Analytics identifies channels. To do this, use the drop down above the table of data and locate the option for “Medium”. The table below should refresh and now you will have a second column of data showing the channel for each landing page.
According to our data, twenty-three out of the twenty-five largest retailers use Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are cost-per-click ads that are purchased through AdWords to promote products. Google initially launched Product Listing Ads in the US market in 2011. However, the advertising format experienced an astronomical rise around 2014, when the search engine launched the feature in other countries. Today, PLAs account for 43 percent of all retail ad clicks and a staggering 70 percent of non-branded clicks!
For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 
Input your post’s url into SEMrush to discover the keywords that it’s already ranking for. Are you ranking just off the first page of the SERPs for any specific keywords that have a high search volume? Take a look at keywords which are ranking in positions 2-10 and try optimizing for these first — moving from third to first position for a term with high search volume can drastically increase organic traffic. Plus, it’s easier to bump a page up the SERPs when it’s already ranking for that keyword.
Social traffic is traffic and visitors from social media sites like FaceBook, Twitter, Pintrest, Reddit, Youtube and more. Low prices, best quality – Buy social traffic packages – highly responsive Social Traffic can be delivered from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit. All traffic is fully unique, fully trackable in Google Analytics and has shown low bounce rates and great time on site stats!

Hey Don, that is a great question and I will give you the overview. Now I have been trying these out for almost two years, for example Yahoo Answers was one of the first ones I tried and brought great results then. So first you need to decide which ones will you try and then track the results. I use Google Analytics to track the incoming traffic. So if I am focusing for example on blog commenting, I will note where I commented, how many times, etc and then see if those comments brought me any traffic. It depends a lot on the type of comment I make, the title of my ComLuv post, but you can still get some overview of how that traffic source is working for you. There are of course sources I discover "by chance". For example, in the last month Paper.li brought me 24 visitors, that spent more than 2 minutes on average on my blog. That is more than some blogs I comment on regularly bring me. So in this case, I will try to promote the paper.li a bit better and make it work for me. I will unfollow some people on Twitter that are not tweeting anything good so my paper.li chooses better posts hence better tweeps and get me exposed to them. A lot of them will RT my paper.li daily, so there is more potential of my content being shared. In case of the blog I mentioned, since none of the posts are becoming viral, the blogger is average, it is obviously not bringing me any traffic, I will start commenting less and work more on those that bring me more traffic. Now this is all great, except I get emotionally attached to blogs I read so I don't look at numbers like that :) But that is how you should track results. The main thing after reading this post is to choose up to 5 of these sources you feel comfortable with, work on them and track results. Keep those that work for you and ditch those that don't. It is a lot dependent on the niche you are in, too. I always try one source for up to a month, if there are no results in a month, I stop working on it and move to another one. If I didn't answer all you wanted to know, just ask additional questions, I am more than glad to help :)

For our client: We only used a smaller quantity of very high-quality link building each month. So, for example we only built 40 of the best links each month to supplement the work we were doing on the content marketing front. We also invested heavily into tracking competitor backlink profiles, using Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. We worked out how the competitor's acquired specific backlinks, then by using outreach and content creation we obtained these links.
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”?
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.
Input your post’s url into SEMrush to discover the keywords that it’s already ranking for. Are you ranking just off the first page of the SERPs for any specific keywords that have a high search volume? Take a look at keywords which are ranking in positions 2-10 and try optimizing for these first — moving from third to first position for a term with high search volume can drastically increase organic traffic. Plus, it’s easier to bump a page up the SERPs when it’s already ranking for that keyword.
Looking at the keyword rankings and organic landing pages provided a little bit of insight into the organic traffic loss, but it was nothing definitive. Because of this, I moved to the on-page metrics for further clarity. As a disclaimer, when I talk about on-page metrics, I’m talking about bounce rate, page views, average page views per session, and time on site.
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