The Difference Between Direct and Organic Traffic

For many years, the SEO industry has defined direct and organic traffic in a rather simple way; to most people organic traffic is the result of website visits from a search engine whereas direct traffic comes from a user typing a URL directly into the browser.

Here at SEO Enterprise, we believe that this definition is too simplified to gain an understanding of the deeper differences between direct and organic traffic. After all, traffic can come from a range of different sources such as referrals, social media, PPC campaigns and email marketing. Read on as we analyse the differences between direct and organic traffic in detail…

Direct Traffic

Defined as visits to a website with no referral, direct traffic is rather easy to understand when you approach it with a fresh mind. When a user follows a link from one website to another, the first site is known as a referrer and the entire process is known as a referral. This can be done through social media, blogs or hyperlinks. Whilst direct traffic does not traditionally come from these kinds of links, the actual sources are more complex than simply attributing it to website visitors who have entered the URL into the browser or clicked on a bookmarked tab.

In fact, a lot of direct traffic is actually incorrectly tracked as organic traffic. For example, email newsletters tend to have a link to the website included and users who visit a site by clicking on this link are recorded as direct traffic when it could be considered organic traffic. This problem arises when email clicks from applications like Outlook to not pass on the referral information.

Organic Traffic

On the other hand, organic traffic is defined as users that visit from a search engine like Google or Bing and is the type of traffic that internet marketing strives to achieve. With this said, organic traffic also has some grey area just like direct traffic. After all, whilst organic traffic results don’t include PPC ads, it can actually be positively or negatively impacted by this type of advertising. Plus, organic traffic can also be gained through social media campaigns.

Most organic results are the product of SEO campaigns, which strive to rank a website for specific competitive keywords. The general rule is that a higher a keyword is ranked, the more organic traffic a website will receive. With this said, SEO requires a website to be regularly updated with original and high-quality content in order to power these keywords.

Search Engine Optimisation focusses on driving organic traffic to your website by raising your rankings for a range of keywords. Whilst direct traffic is important, it is organic traffic that is more likely to result in conversions. To find out more information about the key differences that separate direct traffic from organic traffic and how this applies to SEO, get in contact with a member of the SEO Enterprise team today!

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