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What is the Difference Between Organic and Direct Traffic in Google Analytics?

When analyzing your website traffic, you might be wondering what the difference is between organic and direct traffic in Google Analytics. This is important for your business or website analytics when trying to determine exactly where your traffic is coming from.


So, what is the difference between organic and direct traffic in Google Analytics? In short, organic traffic is website visits that come from search engines whereas direct traffic is website visits that came from an unknown source that Google Analytics could not identify.


Continue reading for a more in-depth description of both organic and direct traffic.



What is the difference between organic and direct traffic in Google Analytics

How do I see the Organic vs Direct report in Google Analytics?

  1. Go to Google Analytics

  2. Click on Acquisition on the left menu

  3. In the submenu, click on All Traffic

  4. Next, click on Channels

From here you can see the data and click on each channel to see more in-depth information on each channel: Organic Search, Direct, Referral, Social, and Other



What is Organic Traffic In Google Analytics?


Here is how Google themselves defines organic traffic.

Traffic that finds your site through any of the default search engines appears as organic search traffic in your reports.

As previously stated, and just as the name sounds, organic traffic is simply any website traffic that originates from a search engine. At the time of writing this article, Google automatically sees 70 websites as a search engine and will classify traffic from these sites as organic.

Daum

Qwant

Alice

DuckDuckGo

Rakuten

Ecosia

Rambler

Alltheweb

Ekolay

Sesam

Altavista

Google

Seznam

AOL

Ask

haosou

Sogou

Incredimail

Startiden

Kvasir

Szukacz

etc.

Live

Terra

Avg

Lycos

Babylon

MSN

Ukr

Baidu

Mynet

Virgilio

Biglobe

Najdi

Voila

Bing

Naver

​Wirtualna Polska

Netscape

Yahoo

Comcast

ONET

Yabdex

Conduit

Yandex

Yandex

CNN

Additionally, Google allows you to edit the list of search engines that will be classified as organic search! Learn how here.


Checking your organic search traffic is important for measuring the effectiveness of your search engine optimization efforts.


What is Direct Traffic In Google Analytics?


Google defines direct traffic like this:


A session is processed as direct traffic when no information about the referral source is available, or when the referring source or search term has been configured to be ignored.

What does this mean? In simple terms, direct traffic is any website visit where Google Analytics can not identify where the visit came from. This could happen for a couple of different reasons.


Accessing the site directly

Anytime someone comes to your website by clicking on a bookmark in their browser or typing your website address directly into the URL bar, the visit will be classified as a direct visit. The visitor did not get to your site by clicking a link on another site or from a search engine.


Ad Blocker Usage

Ad blocking or ad filtering is a software capability for blocking or altering online advertising in a web browser, an application or a network. This may be done using browser extensions or other methods. (Wikipedia)


Internet users who have an adblocking software or extension on their browser are not only blocking ads but they are also oftentimes blocking Google Analytics. This means that the Google Analytics tracking cookie on your site cannot obtain any information from the visitor because this information is "blocked". Therefore the site visit will be marked as a direct visitor because Google cannot tell where the visitor came from. They are treated as no different than a visitor who type the URL or clicked to your site from a bookmark.


According to eMarketer, 1 in every 4 internet users use some sort of ad blocker on there browser. Therefore, you should not be alarmed if you see a lot of direct visits on your Google Analytics.



Understanding Your Traffic Sources is Pivotal


When trying to analyze the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, understanding exactly where your website traffic is coming from is very important. I hope that this article has helped you understand the difference between organic and direct traffic.


If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please leave a comment below!

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