Direct Traffic


What is direct traffic?

‘Direct Traffic’ is one of the types of traffic (together with referral, organic, paid, email, display, social, affiliates, and others) that Google Analytics would show when breaking down the traffic sources of a website or eCommerce. To be specific, direct traffic is defined as visitors who get to your website without having a defined source or referring site.

Direct Traffic & Google Analytics

The concept of direct traffic is also part of what Google defines. The Acquisition Reports, a useful tool that we would leverage across a number of key netamorphosis services, especially Strategy, Performance Management and Analytics Consulting. Such reports would allow companies to map end-users’ Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycles and, through that, help us to understand and analyze how a digital platform is acquiring users, how engaged are users within a digital platform, and what are their conversion patterns. 

Direct Traffic vs Organic Traffic

Direct Traffic: Direct traffic is the amount of website visits to a digital platform through a URL directly in a browser. This can mean that people are either typing in your website URL or coming to a website from a bookmark, but to put it simply, direct traffic simply has an unidentified referring source.

Organic Traffic: Organic search visits are visits that occur to an online platform without any perceived paid effort or referral by another website. In such cases, organic visitors decide to explore a specific website simply because they found it while searching for something online.

The Top 6 Reasons Behind Direct Traffic Results

  1. Missing or broken tracking code: in this case, quite simply, the developer might have forgotten or poorly added the Google Analytics tracking code to a page (i.e. the home page), which would result in difficulty for Google to track and identify users’ sessions.
  2. HTTPS > HTTP: this happens when a user clicks and opens a hyper-link tied to a secure (HTTPS) page, which however leads them to a non-secure (HTTP) page. In such case, no referrer data is passed: the session will appear as direct traffic resulting from an unknown source, instead of as a referral.
  3. Dark social: all referral traffic that is hard to tie to a specific social media platform is generally described as ‘dark social’. This includes links that originally belonged on Skype, IM, Messenger services (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Weibo, Line), and email. A recent research shows that 84% of outbound sharing actually takes place on dark social, so clearly this is becoming a significant component of what is direct traffic within Google Analytics, and for other search engines tracking tools.
  4. Manual address entry and bookmarks: this is probably the most classic cause of direct traffic, as it happens every time an end-user types a URL into the address bar of their website or clicks on a bookmark.
  5. Bad redirection: oftentimes a refresh in the meta or JavaScript-based redirects can wipe or replace referrer data, which as a consequence leads to direct traffic in Analytics. It is important to be precise with server-side redirects and to audit the redirect files with scrutiny in an effort to preserve as referrer data as much as possible.
  6. Links that belong to offline documents or in-App: When an end-user clicks on a link that is part of a pdf, keynote or that is found in-App, then that traffic will be labelled as direct by Google Analytics.

Does traffic segmentation feel overwhelming to you?

One of the core components of a successful, data driven digital platform is clearly delineating all of a website’s paid vs. organic traffic segments, in which to understand brand growth, which often is the rise of organic channels while paid acquisition becomes more efficient.  

At the crux of our starting point, our Strategy Service is a robust by channel traffic analysis that ensures best tagging practices are in place in which to concretely have this understanding on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis.  Analytics consulting has been integral to the Strategy service offering since our inception and informs our collective hybrid structure team on maximizing each traffic channel for optimal ROI

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