Direct Traffic Vs Organic Traffic: Everything You Need to Know
If you’re new to online advertising and SEO, you may be unaware of the website traffic types and their importance. This guide emphasizes direct traffic vs organic traffic as well as their definitions, their purpose, and the importance of tracking both.
To better understand why you would want to compare these two traffic sources, let’s begin by examining what organic traffic is.
What is Organic Traffic on a Website?
Organic traffic is any traffic that comes to your website naturally via a search engine query and is not the result of a paid advertisement.
The primary benefit here is that by increasing your organic traffic, you increase your chances of discovering new leads and closing sales at a fraction of the cost you would use for a paid ad campaign.
However, you won’t be able to receive any organic traffic unless you learn how to improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). A study from Backlinko suggests that the top three results on a SERP receive 75.1% of all clicks. Without a plan, Google will relegate your website to another page, essentially making you invisible to your target audience.
How Do I Increase My Organic Traffic?
Our primary recommendation for increasing organic traffic is by implementing a long-term SEO strategy. Effective SEO practices see website owners modifying and improving their websites to better satisfy Google’s search algorithm. This algorithm looks at hundreds of ranking factors to determine the overall value of a website for its users.
Among these page ranking factors includes:
- Content length and quality
- Effective keyword mapping for the site
- Positive user experience including loading speed, site navigation, layout, etc.
- Matching content to user intent
- Clear meta descriptions, URLs, alternative text for media
Google also recommends organic traffic based on website update history. This is why an SEO specialist will also recommend strategies such as blog writing. A blog allows you to consistently create new and engaging content for users that also boosts your SEO and organic traffic.
What is Direct Traffic?
Direct traffic is any traffic that comes to your site directly without the use of a link from a referring website. The standard way for users to directly visit your domain is by entering it into the URL field in their web browser. In other words, someone who enters “www.dashclicks.com” into their browser instead of searching “DashClicks” on Google is considered direct traffic.
Direct traffic is an important metric for several reasons. The first is that it communicates a strong interest in your website. The user enjoyed their experience with your site enough that they choose your domain as their exact destination for help with a specific problem.
Second, it can be an indicator that leads are taking your recommendation or the advice of another to use your website. This can be an indicator that your brand is establishing a positive reputation among your audience, which will lead to long-term SEO and marketing benefits.
Finally, direct traffic bears an implicit intent to do business with your company. Organic searches yield a variety of results and require a deeper investigation into the keywords used to understand the user intent. A direct visit demonstrates the user’s need to seek out your company specifically. You want to use this understanding of intent to drive future interactions with the individual.
The Problem with Direct Traffic Figures
Direct traffic tends to trend high for many websites in Google Analytics as a result of software errors. Whenever it is unable to accurately identify the source of web traffic, it automatically defines it as direct traffic.
If your direct traffic numbers are higher than 20%, we bring the unfortunate news that your website isn’t as popular as the numbers claim. Rather, much of this is likely organic traffic that’s been incorrectly categorized. This can happen as a result of broken tracking codes, unclear pathways from email or social media, or spambot visits.
For this reason, many experts go as far as to nickname direct traffic as “unknown traffic.” However, we do not recommend potentially disqualifying any potential legitimate direct traffic. It is important to understand the likelihood of error so that you can better investigate and qualify your traffic sources accurately.
How Can I Accurately Categorize My Traffic?
You won’t be able to completely fix the issue with misidentifying direct traffic. However, there are simple steps you can take to improve the quality of your traffic data.
1. Convert Your Website to the HTTPS Protocol
By default, websites utilize the old HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This protocol facilitates the request and delivery of information between a browser and the website server.
HTTPS is an improved protocol with the “S” standing for “secure.” It’s an extension that utilizes a TSL (Transport Security Layer) to encrypt and protect information transferred between both parties. Google also weighs HTTPS sites over HTTP sites as a ranking factor.
The HTTPS vs HTTP distinction matters for classifying traffic. If your site still utilizes HTTP, it will not be able to extract identifying data from a protected browser. Switching to HTTPS not only protects you and the visitor, but it ensures that you’re able to gather as much usable data concerning your traffic as possible.
You can learn more about HTTP vs HTTPS here.
2. Utilize Tracking Codes Such as Google Tag Manager and Facebook Pixel
Google and Facebook both assist clients in overcoming the issue of traffic categorization by providing easy-to-use tracking codes. You can generate new code for specific projects or campaigns and add them to the HTML code on a webpage.
For example, your new Google ad directs users to your sexy new landing page. Then, the page will likely direct users to the main website for more information or to complete a transaction. The tracking code gathers data from all traffic that visits your landing page and presents it to you in a usable form.
Direct Traffic vs Organic Traffic – Does the Distinction Matter?
When it comes to potential leads and sales, traffic is just traffic, right? Is there truly a purpose in categorizing my traffic sources, especially when direct traffic can be so misleading?
The problem with this approach is that misunderstanding your traffic sources impairs your ability to make the most out of potential customer interactions. Understanding a traffic source can instantly provide insight as to where the buyer’s intentions are when discovering and/or accessing your website.
1. Understanding User Intention Associated with Traffic Types
When a person accesses your site directly, it is safe to assume that the person possesses loyalty to your brand.
For example, let’s say that your company is landscaping business. A particularly satisfied customer requires your services once more. Instead of searching for “landscaping services” within Google, they’ll more likely to type in your website’s URL from memory or a business card. Therefore, that direct traffic is closer to the end stage of the buyer’s journey, and the expectation to close the deal is already present.
Conversely, organic traffic does not imply this sentiment nor does organic traffic imply the intent to purchase at all. There are three primary keyword types used in organic searches that we use to help further categorize organic traffic:
- Informational Keywords – These express a desire to gather information about a topic, product, or service. These typically come in the form of a question. This lead will likely require some nurturing before moving to the deal stage.
- Transactional Keywords – These express an implicit desire to buy, but not with any particular brand. Using our previous example, a user might organically search for “best landscaping service.” The traffic you receive this way comes with an intent to purchase, but there is no established loyalty to your brand.
- Navigational Keywords – This is an organic search in which the user is looking for a specific brand or destination. Like true direct traffic, the user demonstrates loyalty to a brand by searching for it specifically. They’re like utilizing navigational keywords due to the inability to remember the actual site URL.
As you can see, categorizing our traffic gives us insight into the user’s intentions before we ever interact with them. This data gives us a beautiful marketing opportunity to deliver content that caters to their specific needs.
2. Categorizing Traffic Can Help Drive Conversions
Successful marketing is not a guessing game. The highest-converting companies are able to do so by understanding how to effectively gather important data and utilize it effectively. When you have an accurate pool of data regarding your traffic sources, you are better able to investigate:
- How does the user find your website
- The keywords used to find the website
- The direct intention behind the keywords used (informational, transactional, navigational)
- Websites that refer users to yours
- The performance of paid ads or landing pages that link to your site
This leaves you with two options. You can ignore the data and approach each new lead encounter with no usable knowledge. This leaves your sales personnel in a reactionary state without the ability to target their messaging to this unknown individual.
The second option is to arm your team with as much data about the individual as possible. Depending on where the traffic originates from, you can learn about the customer’s interests, their pain points, and the particular aspects of your brand that attract them to your products and services. With this data, you take a much more proactive approach with your deals, which provides a greater likelihood of success.
Are There Other Traffic Sources I Should Be Aware of?
Now that you understand the importance of categorizing your traffic, we’ll let you know that there are three other sources you should be aware of.
One is known as referral traffic. This is any traffic that your site receives as a result of a backlink from another domain. Obtaining referral users allows you to gather insights regarding the user’s interests outside of your brand. This is one of the many reasons that building a healthy backlinks profile is vital for SEO.
The second is social traffic and refers to any users that visit you through sites like Facebook or Twitter. It’s easy to think of this as referral traffic, but GA drops it in a distinct bucket for more in-depth analysis.
The final type is paid campaign of paid search traffic. This is the traffic you receive from paid advertising sources that feature special tracking parameters set up specifically for that campaign. This is essential for gauging the performance of your paid marketing campaign.
Start Categorizing Your Traffic for Better Marketing Opportunities!
Whether you’re happy with your current business status or intend to grow, distinguishing your traffic sources is essential for creating success. Understanding where your users come from gives you access to key data points that you can use to drive future targeting and sales endeavors.
If you need assistance in growing your organic traffic, be sure to look into the SEO and content marketing fulfillment services offered by DashClicks. For additional tips on how to optimize your website and improve your traffic from all sources, keep an eye on our blog for informational articles and updates posted regularly