The 5 Types of Website Traffic & How To Leverage Them

In this post I’d like to explain the different types of traffic sources as well as provide ideas for increasing your traffic from each of these sources.

1. Direct Traffic

Direct traffic includes a visit of a user that types your website URL directly into their browser or clicks through to your website from a bookmark that they’ve added to their browser.

Direct traffic would account for someone seeing your website URL on a business card, a poster or flyer or hearing about it by word of mouth and then typing it into their browser. 

In Google Analytics, direct traffic has a medium of “none”.

How to increase direct traffic?

If and where appropriate, add your website URL to any physical promotional material including business cards, posters, flyers, brochures, and signs. 

2. Email Traffic

Email traffic includes a visit when a user clicks through to your website from a link in an email that you or someone else has sent out. 

If you have an email list that you regularly email and in your emails you link back to your website, then this will lead to an increase in email traffic.

In Google Analytics, email traffic has a medium of “email”.

How to increase email traffic?

Create an email list and regularly send out emails that link back to content and sales pages on your own website.Click the link below to watch my free comprehensive video tutorial on how to use ConvertKit for your email marketing. 

3. Organic Search Traffic

Organic search traffic includes traffic that is directed to your site from organic search results on a search engines’ search results page. 

If, for example, a user searches for something on and then clicks through to an organic search result, then this would count as organic search traffic.

In Google Analytics, organic search traffic has a medium of “organic”.

How to increase organic search traffic?

Regularly publish content that gets indexed by search engines and that ranks well on search engine results pages. Make sure that your website and the content on your website has been optimised for search engines.

4. Referral Traffic

Referral traffic includes traffic that is directed to your site from some other site. These other sites include social media networks and all other websites online, excluding search engines.

In Google Analytics, referral traffic has a medium of “referral”.

4.1 Referral Traffic — Social Media

When we talk about referral traffic from social media websites, we are referring to traffic from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube & Pinterest, excluding any traffic generated by ads running on these networks. Traffic generated from ads on social media would fall under paid media traffic.

How to increase this referral traffic from social media sites?

Regularly share valuable content to social media sites on which you have a strong presence and remember to link back to your website if and when appropriate.

4.2 Referral Traffic — Other Websites

When we talk about referral traffic from other websites, then these could be any other websites online other than social media websites. 

So for example if a news site mentions your business or brand in a news article and links out to your website, then any traffic that comes to your site via that link will be referral traffic from that specific site.

Or if you run a local tourist attraction and a destination specific travel blog mentions your brand or business in one of their blog posts and links out to your site, then any traffic that comes to your site via that link will be referral traffic from that specific site.

How to increase this referral traffic from other websites?

Getting mentioned on websites that are owned by others can occur organically or it can be formally arranged. A link from someone else’s website is like an endorsement or recommendation. If you build up a reputation for the work that you do, then you will most likely be mentioned on various websites online. 

You can however also take a more active strategic approach, which is referred to as link building. You could submit your business or website to local directories and submit articles to other larger online publications that will publish your content which usually includes a link back to your website. This is commonly referred to as guest posting.

5. Paid Traffic — PPC/Paid Search

Paid media traffic includes traffic from paid advertising on platforms including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Anybody with an advertising budget can start running ads on these platforms and can pay to drive traffic to their desired landing pages, which can be a specific offer, a specific piece of content or a simple contact form. 

In Google Analytics, paid media or paid search traffic has a medium of “cpc”, which stands for cost per click.

How to increase paid search traffic?

Increasing the amount of ads you’re running and increasing your ad spend will generally result in more paid media traffic, assuming your ads are enticing enough to get user to click through to your specific landing page. 

In Conclusion

The 5 sources of website traffic are direct traffic, email traffic, organic search traffic, referral traffic and paid traffic. 

You can strategically invest time and money into increasing each of these traffic sources.

1. Direct traffic requires word of mouth and a strong physical brand presence. 

2. Email traffic requires you to grow your own email list and to frequently email your list promoting new content and/or offers. 

3. Organic search traffic requires your content to rank well in search engines and in order for that happen you’ll need to invest in content marketing (i.e. regularly publish new and valuable content).

4. Referral traffic will require a strong online brand presence, which can be developed through content marketing (publishing valuable content that other websites link to) or through strategic link building and guest posting.

5. Paid traffic will require an advertising budget, advertising account management and ad creative in form of images, videos and text. You will also need to have a landing page to link to from your ad. You can place ads on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, LinkedIn Ads or on various other networks. If you can develop a profitable advertising strategy, then paid media is the best way to scale your business online. But if you don’t have product-market fit or your advertising strategy is not generating a profit, then it’s a quick way to burn money.

What to focus on based on where you’re at:

If you are just starting out and have a fairly unknown brand and website, then organic search traffic, referral traffic and email traffic would be your best sources of traffic to start with.

If you have an established brand that is well known with existing product-market fit, then paid traffic is a great option for expanding your brand and your income online. 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please click the heart below this paragraph. If you have any feedback or questions feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to get back to you.

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    Digital Marketing Strategist, Vegetarian & Creator. Passionate about tech, ethical business, nature, travel, music & mindfulness. Growing my agency Posmay Media. » Let's connect via WhatsApp, Email, LinkedIn or X