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4 Traffic Sources In Google Analytics To Get Familiar With

4 Traffic Sources In Google Analytics To Get Familiar With

Google Analytics is a free powerful tool that can show you what is working on your website. Its important to monitor Google Analytics on regular basis to observe what tactics are converting your audience and what new strategies you should implement to move forward. It does this with the use of different components. One of the component of Google Analytics is the Source/Medium customer acquisition. Basically,it shows how are people finding you? Where your website traffic coming from? Let’s see how Google Analytics determines website traffic sources.

 Starting with the dashboard view of your Google Analytics account,you can look at”Acquisition”. Following it, click on “All Traffic” then “overview”.You will see like :



There are four buckets of visitors.

  • Direct traffic : It represents those visitors that arrive directly and immediate on your site by either typing your URL into the browser’s address bar or clicking on a bookmark.
  • Referral traffic : It counts those visitors that click a link on another site and land on your page.
  • Search traffic : This traffic comes from visitors clicking on links on a search result page for any search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.
  • Campaign traffic : This traffic comes from any source other than organic search, referral sites or direct traffic. For e.g. traffic from email marketing campaigns, display ads, banner ads, social media campaigns etc.

Once you have reviewed these buckets, you can click on each category name to learn more about each specific traffic source. Remember a healthy site will have a good balance of traffic from all four sources.


                                                            Traffic sources report in Google Analytics

Direct Traffic:

These visitors type your URL into their browser or click on a bookmark to get to your site. To enhance direct traffic choose short, easy to type URL and promote it in offline materials like letterhead, newspaper ads, business cards etc.Why brands care about Direct Traffic?- Direct Traffic is a strong indicator of your brand strength and your success in email or text message. Analytics expert Avinash Kaushik recommends that direct traffic should be nearby 20%. If direct traffic is too less it means that either you are not good in customer service or you have got branding issues.

Referral Traffic:

This is sometimes called as referral or referring traffic. This traffic comes on a link from another site. These are friends linked to your site. Discover who they are by using webmaster tools, build your relationships by commenting on a blog and link back to them in appropriate content. Research others who are similar, who should be on the list and build relationship with them. This will not only increase your referral visitors in future but also Google will send you more visitors. This is because the number and authority of inbound links make Google to consider when ranking you in search engine results page.Why brands care about referral traffic? -It is a strong indicator of your brand’s presence on social media. It gives you insights about social media marketing.

Avinash Kaushik says referral traffic should be around 20-30%. If referring traffic is too low then it means people don’t link out to your brand much and must be some serious issues with your link building and content marketing.

Search Traffic:

These are the visitors visited your site as the result of an internet search. This traffic source is divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic and CPC or paid search engine traffic. Organic traffic comes from natural search results or unpaid search results while CPC or paid traffic you purchase via pay-per-click ads from search engines.

To increase the traffic in this bucket one need to do search engine optimization (SEO). SEO helps in link building, in addition to this it works to make content on website as relevant as possible to searchers and as visible as possible to Google and other search engines.Why brands care about search engine traffic? -It is an indicator of trust level of your website. It also indicates that how impressive is your website content.

According to Avinash Kaushik, 40-50% search engine traffic is normal. Search engine traffic can be a source of tremendous amounts of traffic but this percentage should not be too high. Google can change its algorithms and you could lose more than half of your visitors overnight.So too much dependence on search engine can be bad.

Campaign Traffic:

This is the traffic from any source other than organic search, PPC, referring sites or direct traffic, for e.g. traffic from email marketing campaign, display ads, banner ads, social media campaign etc. It represents specially ‘tagged’ links. Your Google Analytics account will track this visit from that link. These links are tagged with a special code so Google can identify the source.

How will you tag your links? By using the Google URL Builder. URL builder helps you to add parameters in custom web campaign (custom campaigns are those campaigns not using the Adwords auto-tagging) or email campaign. When users click these custom links, the unique parameters sent to your analytics account and you can identify how your URL is attracting the user.


                                                                         Google URL Builder

After filling information in Campaign URL Builder, a full campaign URL will be generated for you and automatically updated in your campaign ads.The different tracking parameters for your link:

  • utm_medium: identifies the channel of a campaign i.e. email,display,affiliate.
  • utm_source: identifies the source within a channel i.e. name of affiliate network.
  • utm_campaign: identifies a campaign within one or more sources / channels i.e.newsletter
  • utm_content: extra parameter for some extra information regarding content i.e. banner, text-link.
  • utm_term: this is a keyword used to identify your ad.

Parameters utm_medium, utm_source, utm_campaign are mandatory. For deeper analysis you could also use of the other parameters.Here are some UTM campaign customization examples;




You can shorten URL using the Google URL Shortner to make them easier to share .

Summing up, the Google Analytic monitors which sources are sending traffic to a site with a bit of interpretation. This data can be used to measure the quality of traffic being sent. With this help, e-commerce marketer can learn why some sources underperforming or focus on sources that drive better quality traffic.

Image Credit: Google Analytics

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