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January 3, 2016

Direct and Organic Search Traffic: What’s The Difference?

Sam Lloyd

Direct and organic traffic are often confused. But the mistake in the differentiation between the two sources of traffic can have dire consequences for business owners.

The two website traffic sources are often referred to as Google Analytics definitions because this is where the users first encounter those terms. You must understand where the traffic is coming from. Additionally, the source of the traffic can have a great impact on the quality of leads. For example, paid traffic tends to be of a better quality, since the leads have a pre-arranged contact with the brand thanks to the ad they clicked on.

Paid ads leads also tend to be closer to making a purchase in the sales funnel. The two terms are used in business and direct hit marketing campaigns, so if you want your efforts to be successful you need to fully understand each term. In business and sales traffic means money, and the traffic source information allows you to see where the lead is coming from. Traffic in advertising definition is the same as in business, only the traffic source information shows you how effectively the money is distributed across marketing channels.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic can be defined as independent visits, that are not linked to other sites. Customers can reach your site by clicking on the link in the external blog or social media. They can also simply put the website address into their browser bar.

Direct traffic refers to the latter. Often times, users would bookmark the site instead of manually entering it into the bar. Visits from bookmarked sites are also considered to be direct traffic.

It’s rare these days for people to simply enter an URL into the browser bar. But still, there are people who will access your site that way. Since a corporate website is a working tool for employees, direct traffic can come from them having the site bookmarked. To prevent employee visits affecting your analytics, it’s important to filter out internal IP addresses.

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic comes from a search engine – organic, meaning natural. To define organic traffic, we don’t include traffic from paid ads, but it does include all the traffic that resulted from your SEO efforts. Often times, you’ll see paid traffic separate from your site organic traffic in the analytics tool you’re using.

Naturally, the better your position is in the search engine, the more people will see your website, hence the more organic traffic you’ll get. Your organic SEO efforts play a major role in increasing the number of organic visits. How do you increase your rankings?

SEO is a complex discipline and a subject for a separate guide. But if you optimize the site structure, menus, meta descriptions, H1-H6 tags for competitive keywords, your organic search results will gradually improve. Additionally, you should blog consistently and make sure your content corresponds to customer search queries.

Now that you understand the website analytics definitions it’s time to get to work. The processes of analyzing Google search traffic data and comparing web traffic are crucial to marketing and business success. Traffic data helps you track campaign performance and test new marketing initiatives. Direct and organic search Google Analytics data is a great way to understand ROI of marketing investments and see how you can improve.

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