Experiment Shows How Much “Direct” Traffic Is Actually Organic Search

Url smallAs the owner of a couple of my own sites, I’ve checked out the Analytics on these sites and I’ve noticed that I do get a good number of “Direct” traffic.  The thing I hate about direct traffic is that you don’t really know exactly where it came from.  Sometimes it could be because somebody typed in the URL into the address bar, or it could be from a book mark.  A lot of times though, it seems that, because browsers aren’t always able to detect where a user is coming from, it has no clue the source of the visitor, so it just bundles them in with the rest of the Direct traffic visitors.

It’s a bit frustrating.

Despite the fact that we all want to know exactly where every single visitor is coming from, apparently there are actually reasons why browsers shouldn’t be reporting where they’re coming from.  There’s this HTTP technical spec that says when a visitor comes to an HTTP site from a HTTPS source, the browser shouldn’t report it.  After all, it is coming from a secured site, and I’m sure the visitor doesn’t really want you knowing those sorts of details.  This is the explanation as to why encrypted searches on Google usually appear as “not provided” in your analytics.

There has always been the idea floating around that a certain amount of Direct is actually Organic, but there really was never any indication on how much of that specific traffic was Organic.  But because of an experiment, we actually know now how much.

, a Director of Product Management at Groupon where he leads organic search, has a post on Search Engine Land that tells us of an experiment that had some potentially dangerous aspects to it.  In a daring move, and a having a boat load of confidence in Google’s ability to index sites in a quick manner, the folks at Groupon completely de-indexed their site in a single day, over the course of six hours.

Don’t try this at home kids.

Sure, we could throw a lot of the details of the experiment at you in the post, but I think I’ll leave that to Gene, as he was part of the experiment at Groupon.  To check out all of the details, you can check out the post by following the link below.

Search Engine Land: Experiment Shows Up To 60% Of “Direct” Traffic Is Actually Organic Search