direct traffic

What Does Direct Traffic Mean in Google Analytics

Direct traffic in Google Analytics refers to website traffic generated by visitors who enter the URL of your website into a browser or click on a bookmarked link to land on your website. This definition is not entirely correct. In recent times, the definition has moved beyond traffic that comes to a website through browser sessions and bookmarked links.

When a website visitor links to another website, the site of origin is known as the referrer. Today’s definition suggests that direct traffic is generated by visits to a website which starts without a referrer being passed through a user’s browser. Whenever Google Analytics is not able to determine the origins or sources of any traffic, it reports them as direct traffic.

Sources of Direct Traffic

There are a number of traffic sources which confuse Google Analytics, so it reports them as direct traffic. Let’s take a look at some.

  • Traffic from mobile apps
  • Traffic from non-web documents such as PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.
  • Traffic from instant messengers like Skype, Google Hangout etc.
  • Traffic from browsers that does not send referrer data
  • Traffic from redirected that does not send referrer data
  • Traffic from a company’s firewall that does not send referrer data
  • Fake spam bot traffic

Why is Direct Traffic So High?

Websites don’t start getting high volume of direct traffic as soon as they are launched. If you’re already getting plenty direct traffic you’re wondering why your direct traffic is so high, we’ll help you understand the forces at play in just a bit.

A high amount of direct traffic is a buildup of investment in marketing campaigns and brand identity promotions. A website having its direct traffics outnumbering its organic traffic gives the impression that the website has gained strong brand recognition. What that means is that a lot of people on their own enter the website URL directly into their browsers to visit.  In reality, that is not exactly the case. Sometimes, a high amount of direct traffic is because Google Analytics is not able to determine the sources of all traffic coming to a website. So, it categorizes those it can’t identify as direct traffic.

That is why direct traffic is a combination of traffic generated by visitors who find your website by entering your URL into their browsers plus traffic generated from other unknown sources as listed above.

Does Direct Traffic Affect SEO?

Yes! A high direct traffic will impact your Google ranking and positively too. Google has a preference for ranking high authority pages higher when it comes to answering users queries. When your website has a lot of direct traffic, it tells Google that your website is a high authority website and has gained a lot of recognition.

The folks at Swifty Labs performed an experiment where a customer received a brand mention from CNN. Even though this brand mention was unlinked, it produced an over 30,000 leap in their direct traffic volume.

What was the result of this leap in traffic? Most of the customer’s web pages relevant to the targeted keyword experienced an improvement in Google ranking. The outcome proves that there’s a strong correlation between high direct traffic and improved Google ranking.

So, if you’re still wondering if a high direct traffic is good? The answer is yes! You should by all means invest in getting a lot of it as much as you are working to improve your organic traffic. Achieving success in both will most certainly help you to rank faster on Google. See how Google Question Hub can improve your website traffic.

How Do I Get Direct Traffic To My Website?

If you’re getting better direct traffic than your competitors, that shows your brand has gained some value among users. Having seen how direct traffic affects SEO, let’s look at how to get it for your website. Here are some helpful tips:

1. Build Your Brand Mentions

Direct traffics to a website usually comes from visitors who have learned of your brand one way or another. Building your brand mention across the internet is a great way to get visitors to come directly to your site.

2. Increase Your Return Visitors

Your goal with every first time visitor should be to turn them into returning visitors. Having a strategy to retain your website visitors or customers is a sure way to do this and increase your overall traffic.

3. Simplify Your URL

When choosing your website URL, it is important to choose one that is easy to remember and not in any way ambiguous. Simple and catchy does it.

Also, keeping your page URL structure simple will help some visitors who want to quickly get unto the pages they are looking for.

4. Promote Your Brand Offline

You can increase your direct traffic by promoting your brand offline. Printing your URL on offline media like t-shirts, business cards, coupons, brochures etc. are a great way to get people to memorize it. It is important that your URL is prominently displayed on any media you place it on.

Final Words

Tracking all your traffic sources can be very helpful for future marketing campaigns. Although Google Analytics is not able to account for traffic from some undetermined sources, it reports them as direct traffic. That explains why direct traffic can be so high for some websites, sometimes even higher than organic traffic.

A high direct traffic does have a positive impact on SEO. It sells you as a high authority domain which is an important ranking factor for Google.

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