Gene McKenna wrote an interesting article on Search Engine Land, that referenced an experiment that showed up to 60 % of direct traffic was actually organic search. In testing with default browser settings, they found differences based on whether someone performed a search at Google directly vs. in a browser’s search box.
From the article:
Everyone knows that browsers don’t always report where visitors came from when they arrive at a website. When they don’t report where they were in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) referrer header, often the traffic is considered “Direct” — which really means, “we have no clue where they came from, maybe they typed the URL in or hit a bookmark.”
We’ve all lived through changes that have impacted Direct traffic as recorded by our analytics programs. Remember back in September 2012, when iOS 6 was released and suddenly lots of sites lost organic search traffic but gained an equal amount of direct?
And let’s not forget when Apple fixed it in July 2013, and the shift from Organic to Direct largely corrected itself within about a week.
Not to mention Google’s shift to encrypted search, making “not provided” a household phrase, within search circles, anyway.
Read the full article here