Analytics for Authors blogs have been edited to reflect the 01/16/2013 Google Analytics update.

Another key section of Google Analytics is Traffic Sources. Access this section’s overview through the left-hand navigation bar.*

Analytics for Authors: Understanding Google Analytics' Traffic Sources

Your traffic is broken down into three types:

Direct Traffic
Direct traffic are the visits you get through someone typing in your URL into an address bar, by accessing a bookmark they’ve created, or clicking on a direct link in an email.

Figuring out what caused a direct traffic spike is tricky – being interviewed on the radio, word-of-mouth, print advertising, etc. will all cause a bump in traffic. Becasue of this, consider focusing on one non-digital form of advertising at a time (if you want to analyze its efficacy).

Referral Traffic
Referral Traffic are visits that are generated from links posted on another website. Having your site listed on someone’s blog roll, shared through a news aggregator, or going viral on social media are all sources of referral traffic.

Referral Traffic is a great way to measure success on social media – If you paste a link onto someone’s Facebook page, any visits generated from that link are counted as referral traffic. So, if you want to know if a recent spike in traffic is a result of sharing on Pinterest or Twitter, take a gander at what source it’s coming from.

Search Traffic
Search Traffic covers visits generated via any search engine, whether your visitor used Bing, Google or something similar.

Analytics for Authors: Understanding Google Analytics' Traffic Sources

If something is labeled organic, it means that someone used that keyword to find you without clicking on an advertisement. If you don’t pay for advertising, all of your search traffic is organic.

While great content doesn’t guarantee lots of traffic, having a high percentage of search traffic is indicative that you are using the correct ‘language’ to speak about your topic online.

Without any additional data, you can determine some interesting facts about your site from your Traffic Sources:

  • Where is your referral traffic coming from? Are you aware of all the blogs that link to your? Are there any social media platforms that are providng great traffic – or that aren’t successfully clicking back to you?
  • Does the bulk of your direct traffic go to your landing page, or somewhere else? If it’s not going to your front page, why might people be bookingmarking that page or sending that link?
  • Do your keywords surprise you?


Analytics for Authors will next provide an in-depth look at your traffic source keywords. If you want to come out on top in the search engine scuffle, stay tuned!

As of 01/16/2013, the left-hand navigation bar has a new quick-link section to Dashboards, Shortcuts, and Intelligence Events above the pictured sections. However, the Traffic Sources section remains functionally the same. 

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