After creating the site, we immediately become interested in who visits it and how users find it at all. You can, of course, ask the users how they came to you :), but the easiest way is to install analytics systems. I use both Metrics and Google Analytics, but I prefer the latter. And in this article I will tell you how different sources of traffic behave and interact with each other.

When you log into your Google Analytics account, you see a similar picture:


Organic Search – is traffic from search engines (Google, Yandex, etc.).
Direct – direct visits to the site.
] Referral is traffic that you get from links on other sites.
Social – traffic from social networks.
Other – traffic originating from Analytics
Email – visits from your mailings.
Campaign is a separate type of traffic by links with utm tagging.

It would seem that everything is quite simple: the user found you in Google and came to your site – it’s an organic visit; You were mentioned at the forum, and you went to users who want to learn more – this is referral traffic; Someone shared your link on Twitter, and people came to you on it – this is social traffic.

But think, you often find something interesting on the Internet, save it in the bookmarks to watch later. In the first case, we receive an organic visit, in the second – a direct visit. How will this be shown in the Analytics?

Hierarchy of traffic sources, or who is more important.

First, try to answer the question: which of the traffic sources gives the least amount of useful information for you? In my opinion, this is direct traffic, and therefore it is in the hierarchy of sources that it looks like “the weakest link”; It is his “eat” all the other channels.

Examples of recording traffic sources in Google Analytics

Organic -> Direct = Organic


Misha reads a lot and watches all new trends in real estate. In Google he found one interesting article (organic), but there was no time to read it, so Misha just left it in the browser until better times. They arrived in a week, Misha reached an article that was already open in his browser (direct). However, this young man will still be considered a user who came from the search engine.

Direct -> Referral -> Organic = Organic


Sasha came to the site on the link, which he threw off a friend (direct); A week after reading a blog that links to your site, Sasha clicks on the link and again turns out to be you (referral). Two weeks later, Sasha had a very important question, and to solve it, he wentogle it, as everyone does in the modern world. From search Sasha clicked again on your site. In Analytics, this visit will seem like an organic one, which “blocked” the referral visit.

After Sasha saw for the third time that your site was useful, he saved it to his bookmarks, and then returned to you from them several times. Attention, the question: what source of the visit will be recorded in these cases?

Referral -> Direct -> Direct = Referral


Masha came to the culinary site from the forum (referral), where she was looking for how to cook mulled wine. She liked the recipe, and she kept the link to it in her file of recipes. After that, there were several more holidays, when Masha had to cook mulled wine, and she came to the culinary site, copying the link from her file. But in Google Analytics, Masha was still listed as a user who came from another site (referral). Then Masha remembered the recipe and stopped visiting that culinary site, but she often looks for other recipes. But this is a completely different story.

It is important to know

All previous conclusions on the “seniority” of traffic sources are made under the following conditions:







6 months – so much time by default, information about any campaign in Google Analytics is saved. Universal Analytics allows you to change this period to 24 months.

This is how the users who come to you every day are tracked. Such a system once again proves the simple principle of life: not everything is as it seems; Not always the user who comes by the link is written directly. I hope I was able to help you understand how things are with the interaction of traffic sources on the business itself.

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