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June 02, 2022

Are Your Direct Traffic Analytics Lying To You?

By Eddie Becker, Senior Content Specialist

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Every business and organization strives to be one of the first results to pop up in a Google search. Having that right mix of SEO optimization and site credibility is a marketer's dream.

But a narrow focus on increasing organic traffic can take away from the tremendous value driven by direct traffic.

Learn how Ironpaper can help you improve your digital marketing analytics and strategies.

Direct traffic vs Organic traffic: What's the difference? 

Understanding the differences between organic and direct traffic helps businesses better optimize their content based on their desired metrics and larger quarterly goals. Think of the two traffic types this way: direct traffic comes from visitors not entering your site through a referring website, while organic traffic comes from users who click on links from other sites to find their way to yours.

 

Direct traffic vs Organic Traffic

Organic Traffic

Direct Traffic

  • Click on a link to your website that ranks on a search engine results page
  • Follows the link in a social media post
  • Types your URL into their address bar
  • Clicks on a link in a marketing email while using a desktop email client
  • Uses a bookmark to get to your website
  • Scans a QR code using their cell phone



The most significant benefit of organic traffic is that it helps to increase brand awareness at a low cost. Direct traffic, however, typically comes from highly engaged, loyal users, and it often has a higher conversion rate than other types of traffic. However, the benefits of direct traffic can be diluted if the metrics are polluted by miscategorized traffic.

Cleaning up direct traffic sources

According to experts, a healthy rate of direct traffic to your site is around 20%. If you see an unusual increase in direct traffic and you know it's not from a paid ad campaign, some other factors are likely at play.

  • Your site is unsecured. If your site is still using HTTP, anyone visiting from a secure site (HTTPS) will be counted as direct traffic. Google Analytics won't recognize non-secure sites as referrals. Transitioning your site to HTTPS will help you get a clearer picture of your traffic.
  • You're not using proper tracking codes. Including UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes at the end of your landing page URLs can help track not only the performance of your page but also the sources of that page's traffic. UTM codes not only help with identifying traffic sources but can also be used in determining certain keywords used in a search for your business.
  • You haven't utilized a 301 redirect. If you recently updated your website's main URL, a 301 redirect acts like a forwarding address. When users type in your old site URL, a 301 redirect will push them to your current, updated URL. Using this type of redirect keeps you from missing out on valuable traffic and keeps the data clean.
  • You haven't blocked employee traffic. Your employees are probably visiting pages on your company's website for various reasons. There's nothing wrong with this, but you'll see skewed analytics if you haven't blocked their IP addresses from your direct traffic analytics.

Optimizing your site for better traffic

Correcting current direct traffic tracking issues will help you better understand who's visiting your site and from where. There are also numerous other ways to boost organic and direct traffic without writing a bunch of new blogs or creating a massive email campaign.

Consider recycling old content 

This doesn't sound as exciting and sexy as launching a new ad campaign, but you'll be surprised at the traffic you can draw from existing content. Repackage a combination of blog posts into an ebook, parcel an old ebook out into a weekly series of blogs, or tie a set of content pieces to a new landing page. There are countless ways to make your current content work harder for you without developing a ton of new pieces.

Develop an SEO strategy 

Believe it or not, quality SEO optimization works better than paid ads. In fact, content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing does. And you can easily institute this strategy into new and existing content. Also, make sure your company name and site URL as easy to find. Can users recall your site name without having to search for it?

Learn more about your customers

The best place to start optimizing your site’s content to generate more traffic is by simply learning more about your customers. Why do customers do business with you? How can you incentivize them to visit your site? What motivates leads to schedule a call with your sales team? Understanding the customer's perspective and pain points will help you develop content that resonates with them and encourages them to bookmark, share, and return to it repeatedly.

Set yourself up for success by optimizing traffic analytics and content

Ensuring that your direct traffic analytics are accurate sets you up for improving both direct and organic traffic and engaging with more qualified, high-intent leads.

Sources:

Moz, The Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics, November 29, 2017

Hubspot, UTM Codes: How to Create UTM Tracking URLs on Google Analytics, August 20, 2021

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