Traffic Sources

Posted by Robert Cerff in Search on 24 January 2014

Tags: analytics, glossary, google analytics, online marketing

There are many sources that could lead traffic to your website.  We've broken down the various sources with the aim of better explaining what they mean and where these visitors are originating from.

Organic Traffic:
These are visitors that have reached your website through the use of a search engine such as Google, Bing, Ask or Yahoo!  These are from the natural, unpaid or organic search results, usually as a result of SEO efforts.  Search engines consider many factors when ranking a website, so these results are usually a relevant match to the search being performed.

Paid Traffic:
As with organic traffic, these are visitors that have reached your website through the use of a search engine, but have done so by clicking on one of the sponsored search results.  These results are highlighted and generally returned above the organic results or down the right hand side.  These are paid for results and while usually they're good quality, these ads needn't match the search exactly or direct you to a relevant page.

Direct Traffic:
These visitors have reached the website directly suggesting prior knowledge of the website.  This can be done by typing the address into the address bar of a browser, clicking on a bookmark/favourites link or from another link on an offline source.

Email Traffic:
These are visitors that have reached your website through branded email.  Examples of branded emails would be email newsletters, email alerts or email stationary.  These are visitors that have clicked on the "read more" link in newsletters, those that may be responding to an alert or simply someone reaching your website from correspondence between you and a client.

Referral Traffic:
These are visitors that have reached your website from a related website.  These are websites that have linked to your website often drawing attention to a product or service that you offer.  These are often seen as endorsements of your website by another website.

Social Traffic:
Traffic from the well-established and known social media websites is now being reported separately so that social efforts can be better managed.  These include the likes of Facebook and Twitter as well as the leading blog platforms such as Blogger and WordPress.  Social traffic varies from referral traffic in that your website is being discussed.

Other Traffic:
These are visitors that reach your website through another marketing campaign.  This can be a custom URL that has been used in an offline campaign or a banner ad campaign on a portal website.

It is important to be able to separate your traffic by source.  This will quickly highlight the sources that generate the best quality traffic giving better insight as to where to invest further marketing spend.  By ensuring that you're maximising traffic from each source you'll also be reducing reliance on any single source and will be better positioned to beat trends that affect the various sources over time.