What is direct traffic? Why is it climbing?

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Posted on by Zach Billings
Categories: Automotive SEO, High Performance Tagged: , , , , ,

So your direct traffic has been climbing, climbing, climbing, and you’re not sure why?

First of all, let’s define ‘Direct Traffic’. At its core, direct traffic most frequently indicates that somebody navigated directly to your website URL without (i) performing a search, or (ii) clicking a paid ad, or referral link. It’s a bucket of traffic in your analytics that Google couldn’t really parse down to any other particular source, and there are even more ways it can happen.

For example:

  • If you do an email campaign and you don’t tag the link from the campaign to your website. Someone who clicks on that link will effectively just be opening a browser and navigating to your URL. As a result, that’s now direct traffic, because you didn’t tag it.
  • Let’s say your store is ABC Nissan. If someone starts to type in ‘ABC Nis…’ on their phone’s browser, their phone is likely to suggest what it believes to be the most obvious URL. When someone clicks that, they’re now a direct visitor, they bypassed the organic search that they were just about to perform.
  • Another common thing that drives direct traffic is simply a link that is redirecting, or that was formatted with ‘http’ when your website is ‘https’. When traffic gets passed through different redirects, sometimes depending on the situation, it can strip the referer and, at that point, Google has to just say it’s direct traffic.
  • The last reason that has been very common the last few years is bot traffic, or traffic that originates from server farms. Whether it’s malicious, or a perfectly innocent and innocuous crawler, bot traffic can heavily inflate your direct traffic. If that’s happening, it’s likely to appear in your analytics as a sort of heartbeat. You’ll see a blip, and then a blip, and then a blip. Sort that traffic to look for its origin or operating system, and if you can find commonalities, that direct traffic can frequently be filtered out of your analytics.

So to recap…

  • Direct traffic is when someone navigates directly to your dealership’s URL, effectively by-passing organic search and can often convolute what you’re seeing in your analytics.
  • There are a number of ways direct traffic can happen and a number of reasons (such as bot traffic) that it has been increasing over time.
  • Review your analytics to find any unnatural events, identify commonalities, and you can filter them out.