Direct and organic traffic

Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.

Traditionally, we’ve attributed this traffic to visitors manually entering the URL of the website or clicking on a bookmarked link. Today, however, the story behind direct traffic is a bit more complex, and the number of visits from direct traffic seems to be growing for many websites, especially sites with growing organic traffic. 

When you look at your overall website traffic, a healthy amount of direct traffic is about 20 percent. However, with major web shifts that are disabling marketers from tracking the true source of traffic, it is likely we will see this percentage rise.

Organic traffic is defined as visitors coming from a search engine, such as Google or Bing. This does not include paid search ads, but that doesn’t mean organic traffic isn’t impacted by paid search or display advertising, either positively or negatively. In general, people trust search engines, and sayings such as “just Google it” reinforce that humans are tied to the search engine. Thus, paid search, display, or even offline campaigns can drive searches, which may increase organic traffic while those campaigns are running.

Even organic traffic, like direct traffic, has some gray areas. For the most part, though, organic traffic is driven by SEO. The better you rank for competitive keywords, the more organic traffic will result. Websites that constantly create content optimized for search will see a steady increase in organic search traffic and improved positioning in search results. As a marketer, it is important to look at your keywords and high-ranking pages to identify new SEO opportunities each month.  

Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at website traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.