Basics of digital marketing - Organic traffic and direct traffic

The organic traffic of a web page or a blog are all those visits that come from the results page of a search engine, be it Google, Yahoo, Bing or any other.

Organic traffic is the one that, in most websites, generates a greater number of visits and of higher quality, since they are users with a certain interest in the topic of our page or blog, differentiating from direct traffic in that it does not come from a search by keywords, but rather because the user types the URL directly or has it previously saved in favorites.

On the other hand, traffic from sponsored links, that is, paid ads, is not considered organic either.

Organic traffic is important

Organic traffic is essential for the success of a website and everything behind it: a brand, a company and, ultimately, an online business (for example, a clothing and accessories store that sells exclusively online), a physical business (a restaurant or a hotel) or a combination of both (a physical supermarket that also sells online).

Its importance is not only quantitative, but also qualitative, since the visits that come to our website do not belong to any type of user, but someone with the following characteristics:

  • You have reached our page by doing a search through keywords or a phrase related (directly or indirectly) to our business or activity sector.
  • This is someone interested in the theme of our website or, at least, in some part of it.
  • You have come to our page in a natural and non-intrusive way. He or she has looked to us trying to find a solution to their need or problem, and not the other way around.

The main keys to increasing organic traffic

To increase organic or qualified traffic to your website, it is necessary to correctly define and implement a series of SEO positioning processes, techniques and strategies that take into account the different factors that influence the algorithm of Google and other search engines when establishing a position of your page after user searches.

These factors, due to their diversity and variety, have to do with various areas of action such as: keyword research, internal and external link strategy, page architecture, loading speed, etc.

The positioning of a page is a complex issue, so choosing the best keys to increase traffic involves an intense exercise in synthesis and discarding issues that are also important, in order to select those that have a greater weight.  

In accordance with these premises, this is our selection of 5 keys to improve our organic traffic:

  • Define objectives and your buyer person. In order to set a course that guides us in the content and structure of our page, it is very important to be clear about what we want to achieve and who we are going to.
  • Use the contents strategy. It is already known that content is king on the internet, but among the existing web of information it is difficult to make a difference and have sufficient visibility. To have greater visibility, it is important to prepare content optimized for SEO, based on a previous search for the keywords that interest us the most and on and off-page actions.
  • Do link building. Links, links that point to our website from other sites, are another excellent way to generate quality traffic, as long as it is done with appropriate methods and approved by Google, that is, they cannot be considered spam.
  • Create responsive content. That is, all parts of our website can be viewed comfortably by the user from any device. We cannot forget that, currently, a large part of Internet browsing come from the small screens of smartphones.
  • Analytics. The monitoring and analysis of results, using the appropriate KPIs, will allow us to optimize our strategies and make the appropriate corrections.

Direct traffic

The direct traffic of a web page is all that which comes to us through users who have directly entered our URL in the address page of the browser they are using.

In practice, Google Analytics does not understand direct traffic exactly like that, but rather makes a somewhat sui generis interpretation. And the truth is that it is not hidden, since Google itself officially defines direct traffic as “a visit that does not provide information about the place that originated it."

What Google Analytics really mean by 'direct traffic'

In addition to the traffic of users who actually type the URL directly into the address bar, Google Analytics also considers direct traffic:


  • Visits from users who have accessed by clicking on a link located in an email if an email application configured on the device itself is used. In e-mails via the web such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo mail, the name of the server appears at the origin of the visit.
  • Links saved as favorites.
  • When the link to the web that has taken the user to our page is within a document in Word, PDF, Power Point, etc.
  • Links that lead to a secure page (https:), but the site does not have an SSL (Security Socket Layer) certificate.
  • When the user accesses a page through the history of previous visits.  
  • Links to the web that are in JavaScript code, which occurs in many advertising banners.
  • Links that are within an intranet or through a proxy server.
  • When a page is reached via a permanent 301 redirect and the UTM parameters leading to the original source have been removed.

The user can configure his browser by eliminating the "referrer" data, so the origin of the visit is hidden and the traffic is mistakenly considered direct. This question does not concern only Google Analytics, since the rest of analytical tools and search engines present similar problems when interpreting what is direct traffic.

A problem for SEO analysis

In addition to direct traffic, with the problems we have discussed, visits to our website can come from:

  • Traffic coming from other websites. It would be the referral traffic, that is, the visits that come to us through links from other websites or sites, which includes the pages that point to the home of our website or to any of our posts or social networks.
  • Organic traffic (SEO). It is the SERP traffic, that is, the one that occurs when, after a search by users, our website appears in the list and they click on it.
  • Payment traffic (SEM). It is the traffic originated through a sponsored link campaign, such as AdWords.
  • Online marketing campaign traffic. This would include all visits obtained through advertising or online marketing campaigns or actions: such as direct ads or banners.

The lack of definition of what is considered direct traffic and its identification errors pose a problem when analyzing our website, since it reduces objectivity to the data on the proportion of traffic obtained.