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Website Traffic Types – Knowing Your Traffic

Knowing Traffic Types

You get all sorts of numbers form digital agencies regarding your website analytic, but what’s it all mean really and is it good or bad, in the end that’s all you want to know.
Traffic is divided up into 5 main types, it is possible that sometimes we break the type down further if there is a need, for example if you run a campaign in the media and need to see how well it is going, to gauge your ROI.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is from people that know you as a company, they have your website address already, so have typed in your website url (ie The user set out with the sole purpose of getting to your website.

It should be noted that should you do an advert that is offline, for example in a newspaper and in that advert it tells people to go to your url ( then this would also show up as direct traffic, there is no way to change this because as far as Google knows all typed in a direct url name (

Search Engine (organic)

Search Engine traffic is the most important traffic for most website owners, search engine traffic is from search engines where users have entered a search term and your website ( of a page within it has shown up high in the rankings causing people to click on that link.

Examples could be;

  • Your product name
  • Key words about your product

Any term that is entered in a search engine by a user and a user clicks on the link in the main part of the search listings (non sponsored advert), from experience of websites for 18 years it is almost always organic search traffic that is the most interactive for website. It’s for this reason I feel organic traffic is the type of traffic to promote.

I add the word “Organic” to this section as I do not include any PPC (paid) traffic in this section, it is possible for other traffic to show under the Search Engine traffic section, however this is rare but something I do watch out for.

Organic = Non Paid search engine traffic


Referrals are a mix of traffic and a little bit of a gray area, referrals are made up of users that have come to your website via a link on another website, or from an email link that had your website url within it.

The referral link could be to anywhere on your site for example it could be to, or it could be

Referrals in short this traffic is not 100% reliable as being free or paid, as it could be paid referral or it could be organic referrals (not paid for). Keep a closer eye on this traffic, or watch out for higher numbers and then check in more details. Only you would know if you have paid for a campaign and unless that’s set up in Google as a campaign then Google analytics shows it different.

Generally referral traffic is free traffic from other websites that are linking to you (subject to the above).

Social Media Traffic

Google (plus other main analytic ware) puts most social media channel under this heading, the social media for most website is almost all Facebook, however other social channels are out there and possibly will show under the social media heading. Whilst not a lot of social traffic comes through to the website, social media is important for brand awareness and over time will build up.

Social media Channel Examples

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google+ (including Google hang outs, YouTube etc)
  • Tumbler
  • Instagram
  • Flickr
  • Vine
  • Vkontakte (VK) – This is mostly a Russia social media network)

Other Traffic

This heading just covers anything that I cannot add to any other subject, yet at the same time does not have enough traffic to warrant me adding a new row as I did with
Examples of Other Traffic would be as below (but not limited to)

  • QR codes (some packaging has QR codes and newer mobile phones can scan the QR code and be taken by the mobile phone to the website, this is not really used on FMCG, but has been growing in the property websites (adding QR to the for sale signs). I feel this will be used more as more people use and understand QR technology. Costa Coffee for example use it for loyalty cards and promotions.
  • Game – These are normally if you have an advert embedded in a game or app, such as some of the free to download games that then make your tablet or phone show those adverts. If a user clicks on the advert and comes through to the site that counts as “Game” traffic.

As you can imagine there are limitless “other” when it comes to website traffic as such I could not list it all here, in short its anything that cannot go in any heading above other.
If however there was a large number of “other” I would always take a more in depth look at the numbers and add it as in a row by its self.

Please do ask any questions, I hope the above really helps.