Many amateur digital marketers consider direct traffic as a good sign due to ignorance. Direct traffic is not just coming from the typing address of a website directly in the URL. It is a misconception that I am going to clear in this blog.
Google analytics categorize traffic in the following-
- Organic search
- Non-organic CPC
- Generic paid search
Many marketers live in a myth that people are visiting directly on their site because you have become popular. If most of your traffic falls in “direct “you need to work on it. But before knowing why, you need to know what.
What is Direct Traffic?
I am not denying that direct traffic comes from typing directly in the URL. But it is not just limited to this.
When the source and medium are clear to analytics, it will fall into one of the above-mentioned categories. When source and medium are unclear it will fall in none. Technically speaking, if source/medium is direct/ none, it is direct traffic.
It could come from an untagged link in a document like Pdf, MSword, incorrectly tagged campaign, etc.
Direct Traffic Could be Due to Many Reasons-
- Shifting HTTP to HTTPS or vice-versa
Passing form HHTP to HTTPS or from HTTPS to HTTP will let analytics to put this traffic as direct. It is because analytics couldn’t identify the medium which was a referral.
If in analytics sheet you find more traffic in direct than in referral, the reason could be this.
- GA Tracking not Linked
Either you forgot to attach GA tracking or there is a problem with the tag manager. In both conditions, traffic will pass to direct. As the tracker is not able to identify the medium, it will place this session in direct by default.
- Complex Redirects
Loss of tracking due to complex redirects is a common cause. Even after putting UTM codes for tracking it will not recognize the medium and again by default it will show up in the direct section.
Redirects are confusing for trackers; it is always advisable to keep redirects as low as possible.
- Links in Documents
Clicks through links in PDF and MS word don’t contain information regarding reference. It will be counted as direct data.
- Manual Typing and Bookmarking
Direct traffic from these sources is appreciable because people directly type the URL of your site in this kind of traffic. People bookmark your site or any page of your site to visit later, the traffic from this source is bookmarked traffic. Both these traffic shows that people are aware of your brand.
- Traffic from Client-Side Application
As the name says, the cause of traffic is the activity from the client-side. Clicks on shared links contribute to this cause. Message services like Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp, Messanger, etc are the platforms on which these links are shared.
- Browser Issues
This is a client-side issue as the browser setting could be such that it does not allow referrer data and cookie data to be tracked. This one can’t be worked out because it depends on the configuration of the browser.
- Bots and Crawlers
A lot of bogus information sneaks into your analytics data due to bots and crawlers. Some tools crawl your site like Ahrefs and Google. Analytics can put traffic in referral, direct or in both. So, the possibility of spam traffic is high in this case.
Why You Should Care?
There is nothing to get worried about it unless people are searching for your brand directly. The problem appears when the medium is unknown because you are missing on real data.
Due to improper tracking, you don’t get the real progress of your work and you end up doing unnecessary changes to it.
Also, there is a misconception that your brand is growing but actually, it is not.
Tips to Get Over Direct Traffic-
- Proper tagging in ad campaigns
If you haven’t enabled auto-tagging yet, you better do it now. In Google Analytics, you get an option of auto-tagging which makes your job super easy. However, in other analytical tools, you have to rely on manual tagging where you need an extra pair of eyes. Even a small spelling mistake can take you on the wrong track. Various URL building tools are available online like URL builder that can help you to build properly formatted links.
- HTTPS is Always Better
It is better to be on HTTPS from a security point of view. Both the referrer and the main site need to be on HTTPS to avoid this problem.
In order to believe in your data, you have to make it trustworthy. Your further actions depend on these data. To ensure the same you can do monthly ads audit (what I believe a pragmatic approach). Along with bringing loopholes in your analytics setup, it also helps in successful marketing.
- Avoid Redirects
Redirects are essential sometimes when there is temporary work on your site or you want to change the URL name. The reasons could be many but having too many redirects is not a healthy practice. It gives confusing signals to tracker due to which you get undesirable results in analytics.
- Shared links in non HTML files
Links shared in PDF and word that are non HTML files in which you can share links with or without UTM tracker.
Now, nobody likes to click on a long chain of links but when you attach UTM tracking to a link it becomes longer.
Long URL doesn’t attract clicks that are what I feel. Services like bit.ly reduce the size of such a long URL to your advantage.
If your direct traffic is more than 20%, you should smell something fishy. I hope this guide will help you to reduce direct traffic and improve your analytics sheet.