Direct traffic in Google Analytics

“Direct/None” traffic is a traffic source listed in Google Analytics that defines most traffic that does not come from a public website and does not have any Google Tracking URL parameters defined.  Some examples of this are:

  1. Someone clicked a link in a piece of desktop software
  2. Someone clicked a link in a PDF document
  3. Someone clicked a link from a secure portion of a website.
  4. Someone used a URL shortening service (though occasionally this will show the URL shortener as the source)
  5. Someone typed your domain name into their browser directly
  6. Someone saved your page as a bookmark and clicked from their saved bookmark
  7. The list goes on, but you get the point…

While it’s impossible to determine exactly where all of your Direct/None traffic is coming from, there is a lot you can learn from the landing pages and the monthly increase/decrease to these pages.  I created the video walkthrough included with this page, but here’s the walkthrough:

  1. Go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium, click on “(Direct) / (None)”, and than under the “Secondary Dimension” dropdown, select “Behavior > Landing Page”

This will show you a list of all the pages that “Direct/None” traffic is going to, which should give you quite a bit of insight as to how it may be getting there.  Is there a blog post that is seeing a lot of traffic?  It may have been mentioned in someone else’s newsletter.

Next, in the date selection (upper right-hand corner), set the report to compare to the previous period.  Now you can see the change in your Direct/None traffic on a monthly basis and see what pages are contributing to increases or decreases in this traffic source.

Of course this is more for general information gathering and there is no absolute way of knowing exactly where this Direct/None traffic is coming from without using Google Tracking URL’s.

While everyone seems to focus on figuring out where this traffic is coming from, I feel it’s best to focus on how you can leverage this existing traffic for more business.  Realize that your tracks have mostly washed away and focus on continuing to move forward.

Identify the content that resonated and determine how you can create more content like this. Look at your existing content getting traffic and identify how you can convert more of this traffic into customers. Publish a follow up to this content and link to it from the original content. Be sure to add Google Tracking URL’s to all the content you share going forward so that if your content is picked up in a similar manner, you will at least have some insight as to how they first found it. Implement these practical advices with a great traffic tool- Babylon and sooner than later you will see a huge increase in your traffic.