‘Direct Traffic’ is one of the types of traffic (together with referral, organic, paid, email, display, social, affiliates, and other) that Google Analytics would show when breaking down the traffic sources of a website or eCommerce.

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 of course Analytics Consulting. Such reports would allow us to map end-users’ Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycles and through that help us understand and analyze how a digital platform is acquiring users, how do these behave on our client’s website, and what are their conversion patterns. An important note on this process is that, quite clearly, even though Google sets the ‘industry standard’ when it comes to analytics (and SEO), it is important to analyze data pulled from other search engines as well, such as Bing and Yahoo.

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 results from an unknown source, instead of as a referral.
  3. Dark social: All referral 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: Often times 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. At neta we are very precise with server-side redirect and as part of our SEO Services, audit the redirect files of our clients: this allows us to preserve 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.