Direct Traffic

November 12, 2018

When visitors come to your website, they can arrive via paid ads, organic search, or direct traffic. Direct traffic is one of the more common ways that people come to your web properties.

What is Direct Traffic?

Direct traffic is simply the amount of web traffic you gain from visitors who type your URL directly into their browsers, or who arrive at your website by way of a bookmark they saved.

The Mechanisms Behind Direct Traffic

Direct traffic can be measured by way of an HTTP header that refers the originating site information to your analytics tool.

Basically, a sliver of code present in all web properties tells your analytics system what site your visitor was on before they ended up on your website. The originating site is called the Referrer.

If Analytics Doesn’t Know Where It Came From, It’s Still Direct Traffic

Most analytics systems will show that you have a lot of direct traffic. This is because if the analytics tool doesn’t know where a visitor came from, it’ll lump them into the direct traffic bucket.

There are a bunch of reasons why that HTTP header might disappear as the visitor comes to your property. They may have landed on your site via:

  • Physical QR codes
  • Privacy extensions that stripped the header
  • Chat, email, or messenger apps where participants share a link
  • A link that didn’t have the proper UTM parameters or redirection code

Minimizing Unnecessary Direct Traffic

To be blunt, many marketers believe direct traffic is a burden because they feel it can’t truly be analyzed. Or they may feel like it’s simply a matter of re-attributing it to other channels.

But the reality is there are ways to minimize the unnecessary direct traffic in your analytics systems:

  • Do a thorough analytics audit. Find every last tracking code. Test everything. Plan how you’re going to measure success.
  • Manage redirects. There’s so much room for error when redirecting pages. Thoroughly test all 301 redirects. Pinpoint which properties each link is leading people toward.
  • Use HTTPS. If you haven’t already, you should. It’s more secure than HTTP, and will affect how you track referral traffic.

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