Organic vs Direct Traffic – Understanding web traffic is key to gaining important insights into your business and maintaining its online presence. There are several different web traffic sources that can attract consumers to a business website. The goal of using these different sources is to encourage visits to and interaction on your company’s website, to positively impact your overall conversion rate. Many people say that two of the most important traffic sources for achieving this goal are direct traffic and organic traffic, especially when assessed based on Google Analytics. But what’s the difference between direct traffic and organic traffic? Read on to learn more.

When it comes to the categorizing of website visitors by web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, you should understand that different traffic types yield different insights as to how you should develop and adjust your marketing plan to your audience. Knowing the difference between traffic types is central to understanding how the flow of traffic to your business website is tracked.


Direct traffic refers to any traffic for which the source is unknown. Google defines direct traffic as that which has no information available to identify its referral source or that which has a referring source that is configured to be disregarded. That is, direct traffic is any traffic of unknown origin, from which a link is not clicked and there is no referring website or URL. This type of traffic has no recognizable affiliated source when assessed by Google Analytics; it means that Google Analytics couldn’t recognize where the visitors began their navigation to your company’s site.

Google categorizes traffic as direct when users type the exact URL of your website in their browser search bars or access your website through saved bookmarks. Also, traffic is noted as direct when users open any link from an HTTPS webpage and land on an HTTP webpage. (Note: when you navigate from HTTPS to HTTP webpage, no information about the source gets passed on to Google Analytics. This is the way security protocols help protect the consumers’ data as they move from a secure to an unsecured online location. Relatedly, when consumers open your business website’s link within a social media networking app like Skype or WhatsApp, or from an email, Google Analytics does not track that traffic, even though it can track it directly from the social networking platforms themselves). A fourth way traffic is logged as direct is if it via download; if a consumer downloads content like PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or other offline marketing campaigns, Google Analytics logs it as direct traffic because it doesn’t track file downloads “natively.”


Organic traffic refers to the number of visitors to a business website coming from search engine results naturally. In other words, it is that which is earned rather than coming from search engine results that are not paid for; these results are driven mainly through search engine optimization (SEO). Organic traffic is generated by the ranking your company’s website receives on any search engine results page (SERP), whether from the Google search engine or another like Yahoo or Bing. The higher your website ranks for search terms related to your company and what it has to offer, the more organic traffic you will likely have on your site.

Most digital marketing tactics and strategies are based on the desire to increase search engine rankings to drive more organic traffic to a website. SEO is fundamental to achieving increased organic traffic. The goal of SEO specialists is to improve organic traffic by increasing the probability that when someone searches online for the kinds of products or services offered by your company, your website appears near the top of the SERP. The more optimized your site is for search engines, the more likely it will be that your business website ranks highly for the search terms used by your target audience.


The biggest difference between direct and organic traffic mostly has to do with the search intent of consumers. By determining search intent, SEO specialists can help bring higher rates of desirable traffic to your website. When you cater to search engines, you will have plenty of organic traffic from ranking highly for specific search terms. Using the most appropriate SEO tactics and target keywords specific to your company and its offerings, your business will grow. Also, your business will have a greater level of customer satisfaction and higher rates of conversion through a pairing of direct traffic and organic traffic with SEO. That is, seeing both direct traffic and organic traffic detailed in your Google Analytics report is usually the most useful when it is analyzed together. These marketing measurements are vital to understanding how your sources of traffic are working in combination with your website content to drive consumers to convert from prospective customers/clients to actual customers/clients. Your best bet is to have a robust digital marketing plan put in place by a professional company that can make sure Google Analytics tracks your website traffic and can analyze the reports to focus on generating even more traffic.


If you need guidance in creating a solid digital marketing plan for your business, reaching out to professionals like those at Eye See You Now (ESYN) is the best way to efficiently and effectively get the job done. The experienced ESYN team based in Austin, Texas specializes in SEO and is focused on enhancing the online presence and overall digital footprint of your business. The professional digital marketing company of ESYN will work with you to build a robust digital marketing plan and implement tried and true SEO strategies that will be of most value to you as you grow your business. Contact the marketing experts at ESYN online or by phone at 512-370-4078 to discuss your digital marketing needs during a free consultation. The skilled digital marketing specialists at ESYN are ready to assist you with all your digital marketing needs.

Written by: Erika Mehlhaff