Understanding your law firm’s web traffic and where it’s coming from is incredibly important. This lets you know how visitors are finding you, which marketing tactics are most effective, etc.
While traffic sources like organic search, social, referrals and email are all pretty straightforward, some legal marketers are little perplexed as to what exactly direct traffic entails. Let’s now cover the fundamentals and dispel any myths so that you’re better able to make sense of your overall traffic.
A Formal Definition
Smart Bug Media offers a solid definition:
“Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have a link to another websites for visitors to follow. Direct traffic, however, categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.”
More often than not, direct traffic is the result of someone entering your website’s URL manually, or they have it bookmarked and click on it through that.
But That’s Not the Full Story
It’s important to point out that Google categorizes direct traffic as being sessions from which a referrer can’t be identified. For instance, if there’s a browser issue and they can’t identify where a visitor came from, they’ll simply lump it into your direct traffic.
Megalytic also points out that other instances can include:
- Clicking a link from an email (depending on email provider/program)
- Clicking a link from a Microsoft Office or PDF document
- Accessing the site from a shortened URL (depending on the URL shortener)
- Clicking a link from a Mobile social media apps like Facebook or Twitter.
So as you can see, direct traffic can be a little deceiving, and it can include a lot of scenarios beyond just someone directly entering your site into their URL or clicking on a bookmark. So it’s important to keep that in mind.
What Does it Really Mean?
When you really break it all down, direct traffic tends to correlate into one thing – brand equity.
Just think about it.
If a lot of people are going directly to your site or have it bookmarked, they obviously know about your law firm. There’s a certain level of brand awareness that’s undeniable. They’re bypassing search, social, etc. and going straight to your site.
So if you notice that your volume of direct traffic has grown, that typically indicates that your brand equity is on the rise. If your direct traffic exceeds your organic search traffic, it shows there’s a strong level of awareness, which is a good thing.
On the other hand, a drop off in direct traffic can mean the opposite and your brand awareness has diminished. Of course there are aberrations and outliers. This isn’t true 100 percent of the time, but a high percentage of direct traffic usually translates into strong brand equity.
This term can definitely be confusing, especially to the uninitiated. But understanding the definition and potential scenarios behind it should give you a pretty clear picture of what’s going on with your traffic and how well recognized your law firm is.