Google Analytics Direct Traffic Source Classification

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#1
Do you find the following definition from Google of Direct Traffic Source to be correct?

direct)[(none)] - Visitors who visited the site by typing the URL directly into their browser. 'Direct' can also refer to the visitors who clicked on the links from their bookmarks/favorites, untagged links within emails, or links from documents that don't include tracking variables (such as PDFs or Word documents).

Looking at stats in Analytics, I found it to be little odd to have managed a growth of 500%+ from traffic classified as Direct while other traffic sources i.e Social, Organic, Referral... the gains there were insignificant to make an impact. How is this even possible? Whiteout growing the other source channels, I would think that Direct Traffic would have stayed the same as well.
 

CCarter

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#2
Some traffic like Pinterest comes in as direct traffic (i get as high as a 50/50 ratio referral to direct from pinterest). As well when people use referral blocking redirects that registers as direct traffic. Also consider links from within Apps or files like pdfs or excel/word doc links are not going to have a source.

As well if your site is http but the website sending the traffic is https the traffic referral SHOULD be dropped for security (https to another https site will register referral traffic).

What I suspect is you are not behind https OR the link they used to your site might be the non-ssl version and the redirect to https drops the referral.

Or you could've been mention in a magazine or offline publication :wink:
 
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#3
On point as usual. I was not aware that referral traffic would drop if both sites are not setup with https address respectively. I'll get on that and get SSL installed pronto...
 

CCarter

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#4
Yeah it might be a real shocker to people not wanting to switch to SSL cause all the major websites are defaulting to SSL AND forcing SSL as well. So they'll see an increase in direct traffic and not know why. Here is a decent article on it https to http: Secure-to-Nonsecure Referrer Loss

Quick Chart from the page:



You can also try Let's Encrypt which provides Free SSL/TLS Certificates. Note I haven't tried them yet, but it is claimed there is an automated version that's easy to use.
 

Ryuzaki

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#5
I have a crazy amount of Direct traffic as well from leaking popular platforms that have mobile apps. I'd like to see Analytics create a native solution for it, but in the meantime you can always use UTM tagging so you know where it's coming from.
726 x 113
 

turbin3

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#6
Also, to expand on referral traffic, if you are excluding self-referrals in your GA property, traffic from any version of your site to any other version of your site will mostly show as Direct traffic. For example, the aforementioned HTTP to HTTPS and vice versa. Also, between subdomains, between separate domains (have multiple TLDs of the same domain?), etc. This gets to be a significant problem on large sites with poor structural management, case sensitivity not being resolved, crazy redirects, etc.
 
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#7
Hey just opening this discussion back up - has anyone found a solution to tracking this traffic source better? I am running into a situation where I am getting lots of residual traffic from reddit that is all being marked as direct due to what I assume is users on the app.