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“Direct/None” traffic is a traffic source listed in Google Analytics that defines most traffic that does not come from a public website and does not have any Google Tracking URL parameters defined.  Some examples of this are:

  1. Someone clicked a link in a piece of desktop software
  2. Someone clicked a link in a PDF document
  3. Someone clicked a link from a secure portion of a website.
  4. Someone clicked a link from a secure website to a non-secure (non-HTTPS) website.
  5. Someone used a URL shortening service (though occasionally this will show the URL shortener as the source)
  6. Someone typed your domain name into their browser directly
  7. Someone saved your page as a bookmark and clicked from their saved bookmark
  8. The list goes on, but you get the point…

While it’s impossible to determine exactly where all of your Direct/None traffic is coming from, there is a lot you can learn from the landing pages, where these users are coming from and if it’s legitimate traffic or not.

Step 1: Enable a Segment to only see “Direct / None” Traffic.
Here is a link to a Direct / None Google Analytics segment that you can import into your Google Analytics account. Using this will only show you traffic from “(Direct) / (None)” traffic.

Step 2: See what Landing Pages are most popular with Direct / None traffic
Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages

GA - Landing PagesThis will show you a list of all the pages that “Direct/None” traffic is going to, which should give you quite a bit of insight as to how it may be getting there.  Is there a blog post that is seeing a lot of traffic?  It may have been mentioned in someone else’s newsletter, or linked form a PDF that is being circulated.

Step 3: Look at where your traffic is coming from geographically
Next, go to Audience > Geo > Location

Take a look at where your Direct / None traffic is coming from. Are you a local business seeing a spike in traffic from a foreign country? This could be spam.

Step 4: Is Direct / None traffic resulting in Events or Goals?
Go to Behavior > Events > Overview and see if any events are being registered from Direct/None Traffic.

Do the same thing under Conversions > Goals > Overview or Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview. Look to see if this traffic is potentially filling out contact forms or purchasing from your site. If so, look at the quality of the leads/purchases coming through. If you see a lot of spam in your forms that seems to be from a foreign country, you may need to tighten the spam settings on your website forms.

Step 5: Prevent Direct/None traffic wherever you can 
One way you can try to prevent this from happening in the future is to always use UTM parameters whenever you link to your website in PDFs, emails…anywhere really. These UTM parameters tell Google Analytics exactly where the user is coming from and they are super easy to create using Google’s UTM Generator. Some places to keep in mind for adding these:

  • Email signatures
  • Email newsletters or other email marketing efforts
  • PDF / Word / Excel Documents
  • Links from applications (Like Project Management software)
  • Links in your mobile apps

The goal here is to study the Direct / None traffic and let the data tell the story about where this traffic may be coming from and whether it’s good traffic or not. Then you can begin making informed decisions on whether to continue to encourage this traffic or to try and exclude it.

If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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