Know Your Google Analytics Website Traffic Sources

web traffic sources
When people visit your house they might come directly to your address, they might go somewhere else first, they may have searched for your place on a map or perhaps they paid a cabby to get there.

There are similar ways for people to get to your website.  Understanding the sources of your website traffic that appear in your Google Analytics dashboard gives information about how website visitors are finding your website.

Key sources of traffic to your website include:

Direct Traffic

This is when someone types your website address directly into the browser, or if they click on a link that you sent them.

Search Engines 

This is when someone uses a search engine to find your website.  They might search on your business name or one of the keywords that are relevant to the copy on your website.  It includes organic and paid traffic.

  • If they click through from the organic results on the left hand side, they are called organic traffic. If google is the search engine this shows up as “google / organic”.  Other search engines will also be listed eg Bing, Yahoo or AOL.
  • If you are running a paid AdWords campaign to drive traffic to your website, you can link your AdWords and Analytics accounts.  The traffic will show up in Analytics as “google / cpc”

Referring Sites

A referral occurs when someone clicks on a link to your website from another website.  For example if your website is listed in the Hotfrog Business Directory and someone clicks through from there, they are traffic from a referring site and the address of the referring site will be shown, for example “ / referral”

Other examples of referring sites:

  • If you are on Twitter and someone clicks the link in your profile, this show up as “”
  • If you are sharing articles via LinkedIn groups and someone clicks through, this shows up with “ referral”.

These are some of the main sources of website traffic that you’ll see in your Google Analytics account.  You can also see if traffic is generated by an email campaign (if your campaign tool allows you to tag your links for Google Analytics) and other ways that people are finding your website.

Reviewing your website traffic sources is an easy way to find out which of your online marketing activities are effectively getting traffic to your website and which ones you need to improve.

Any questions? Please leave a comment below.

Until next time


PS Also read Gotta have a website monitoring tool and Have active website visitors who keep coming back

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