Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is a metric tracked by google analytics that helps site managers measure visits to their website home page or landing page. Differing from other metrics, such as organic traffic, direct traffic represents a more limited set of site visits. This article will outline how it works, how it’s measured, and how you can be sure to improve and clean up these metrics through your own digital marketing strategies.


  • 2 +

    Templates using this KPI

  • 1 +

    Integrations using this KPI

What is direct traffic?

Google Analytics will categorize site visits as ‘direct traffic’ when the user arrived at your site via a direct link or a bookmark. But, one problem with this metric is that when google cannot determine how a visitor arrived at the page and has no referrer data or referrer information, it will automatically categorize that visit as a direct traffic attribution, which has the potential to throw off your SEO metrics and website traffic analytics reports.

Ultimately, what leads to direct traffic is any of the following: a user manually entering a URL to a browser’s address bar; when the user clicks on the link to the site through their bookmarks; when a user follows a link on a secure HTTPS site to a nonsecure HTTP site; when there is incorrect redirection as a result of JavaScript redirects; or when a user visits the site through links in documents outside of the web platform (like backlinks found in word documents, for example).

Finally, a major source of direct traffic is attributed to “dark social” which are links exchanged via email, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Skype, email campaigns, LinkedIn messaging, and other mobile apps. Unfortunately, these links account for the majority of web page sharing and make direct traffic metrics hard to track reliably.

Track your direct traffic today

How to calculate direct traffic

When it comes to direct traffic, the challenge doesn’t lie in making calculations. For these web analytics, google analytics has a column labeled ‘default channel grouping’ which outlines the type of traffic your website is getting, and the source of traffic. It sorts categories including direct traffic to the website URL, organic search from typical google searches and search engine results, paid search (like Adwords), and social networks. But from there, even with the breakdown of search traffic, direct traffic requires a bit more investigation since so many website visits get grouped as direct traffic when they were in fact something else.

What is good direct traffic?

Typically, good direct traffic numbers are anywhere up to 25% of overall website traffic. Numbers higher than this value may indicate that the analytics are representing a large quantity of falsely labeled visits which may throw off your marketing campaigns and conversions analyses.

Track yours with an automated report

What is bad direct traffic?

With direct traffic, higher numbers don’t necessarily mean better outcomes. So if your number is below 20%-25%, this might be fine. It is dependent on your industry, strategy, campaigns, and other marketing efforts.

Track yours with an automated report

Direct traffic KPI examples & templates

Here are some templates : 

See this KPI in action here!

Google analytics report template Google analytics report template

An awesome report with important metrics for your SEO strategy. Track your marketing efforts with KPIs like organic searches (Google search), single-page data, and audience demographics.

See this template live

Digital marketing report template Digital marketing report template

From SEO to social media platforms and PPC, this report gives you a good view of all your online marketing strategy metrics and overall online performance. 

See this template live

SEO report template SEO report template

Gather all your favorite SEO tools, from Google Analytics to SEMrush, Ahrefs, and way more into a single, awesome SEO report! With this report template, you can track all your SEO performance and keyword rankings in seconds.

See this template live

Get 10 free dashboards for 15 days


Direct traffic best practices

Since direct traffic means that users got to your website outside of optimization, and simply using a link, the main way to improve your direct traffic is to increase your brand awareness and distribution of links to your website. Here are some best practices:

Organic traffic best practices

step 1 icon Clean up your direct traffic data

Make sure that all of your marketing channels are accurately tagged so that you are getting true results that represent your website outlook, and not messy data full of dark social and bots hits.

step 2 icon Social media marketing

Get your website out there and attach direct links in all of your social media marketing outreach to encourage people to find your website directly.

step 3 icon Email marketing

Use templates to generate regular email outreach campaigns so that people have direct links and access to your platform.

Want to track all your KPIs in one easy-to-use dashboard?

Try dashthis free

Ressources about direct traffic

KPIs you may also like

Digital Marketing reporting dashboard

Get Started Today!

Try DashThis

Made in Canada

DashThis is a brand owned by Moment Zero inc

Copyright © 2011-2024