Direct Vs. Organic Traffic: Basics and Common Sources

Within the world of SEO and digital marketing, few elements are more important than understanding how and why visitors got to your site. This is referred to as website traffic, and there are several sources of such traffic – two of the most common of which, and which are often compared to one another, being organic traffic (or organic search results) and direct traffic.

At SEO Werkz, website traffic is one significant part of our white label SEO services, which cover everything from web design and on-site optimization to website retargeting and numerous other themes that relate directly to traffic. What are the various traffic sources out there, and why are organic and direct forms often compared or closely considered? This two-part blog series will go over everything you need to know.

Broad Traffic Sources

Organic and direct traffic are actually just two of several different potential website traffic sources. Google Analytics and other web analytics platforms use algorithms and flow charts that break down traffic based on referring websites or URL parameters, and will note one of several possible sources:

  • Direct: Traffic with an unknown referrer or source
  • Organic: Traffic from search engine results that is earned rather than paid
  • Email: Traffic from email marketing that includes an email parameter tag
  • Paid search: Traffic from search engine results via paid search in Google AdWords or another similar platform
  • Social: Traffic from a social network like Facebook or Twitter
  • Referral: Traffic that comes from another site, but not a major search engine
  • Other: Traffic that does not fit into any of the above categories

Organic Traffic Basics

Also called organic search, organic traffic refers specifically to search engine results that are not paid – that is, they are achieved using strong SEO methods, but not using PPC or other paid search programs. The goal of many SEO areas is to improve organic traffic – that is, when someone goes to Google and searches for the kinds of products or services you offer, particularly in your area, you want your pages to be showing up near the top of these results.

direct organic traffic basics

The primary sources of organic traffic, naturally, are search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. They will also come from social media sites in some cases – in fact, there are those in the SEO world who consider other traffic sources we went over above, such as social media, email marketing and referrals, to actually be part of the organic traffic category.

Direct Traffic Basics

Direct traffic, on the other hand, refers to traffic that does not have a known source. Maybe the user manually entered their URL to visit your site, or used a bookmark in their browser. There are also cases where direct traffic occurs because website tracking codes are improperly built or do not exist. In other situations, direct traffic will come from untagged email links or those visiting HTTP sites from a link in an HTTPS site (these don’t always match up).

For more on the differences between organic and direct traffic within digital marketing, or to learn about any of our SEO, PPC, web design or other services, speak to the staff at SEO Werkz today.

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