We often are asked many Google Analytics questions, from how to set up a Google Analytics account, to how to grant edit access to a user, but one question I have been hearing a bit recently is, what is direct traffic in Google Analytics? We always speak to Organic Traffic and Paid Traffic, but most of our customers receive a sizable percentage of their traffic directly.
So, what is Direct Traffic in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics will report a traffic source as Direct if it has no other data of how the user ended up on the website. If Google doesn’t have any data on the user coming from a search engine, or a paid ad, Facebook or another referral website, then Google will attribute the user as a direct hit. Many times, this means the user typed in your website’s URL, (i.e.website.com), but sometimes Google might not have any other source to attribute the user to.
Direct Traffic Solutions
Basically, our goal is to find a way to attribute our direct traffic to particular sources as best as possible. I find that typically, direct traffic is actually coming from social media websites or influencers, email campaigns, or direct mailers. Many times, companies will not make special landing pages or UTM parameters to help attribute the traffic coming from offline, from influencers, or from unlinked mentions.
To help attribute your direct traffic, make sure you are using UTM parameters within your email campaigns, or any pdfs, etc. you might be sending customers. In addition, if you are working with influencers, sending direct mail, or using billboards, etc. then use special landing pages or URLs designed specifically for your campaign. For example, if you are sending a piece of mail advertising your website, use the URL, website.com/mail over website.com because this way you can see the user who arrived through that URL and gain back some data, vs sending them to the homepage and losing the data to direct traffic.
To Sum It All Up
Direct traffic can basically be defined as a user who types in your website’s URL or a user who can’t be attributed to any other source. While we tend to have tons of data to make decisions, the more data available and attributable, the better! Your best option is to use UTM parameters when possible and then specific URLs or landing pages to gain back some of the data lost to attributing a user to direct traffic.
If you have any questions which were not answered above, or you would like to speak to our team about your company or website, please contact us by filling out a free consultation form.