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How Google Analytics counts Direct traffic

LunaMetrics has published this fantastic post which i would recommend to read, print and frame.

See how the things are, we complain that Facebook, FacebookAds counts “weird” the conversions, something that is also true, we distrust but someone and not all pause the campaigns.

Let’s go to the point, that’s how Google Analytics counts Direct traffic, just like us.

When traffic comes in with no traffic source information, which means that the user did not come from a tagged link or with no information about the previous site they were on, then Google Analytics marks this as “Direct”. Forget what you’ve heard, “Direct” traffic in Google Analytics means that “We Don’t Know” where they came from.

Or what is the same… when Google Analytics do not know where you traffic comes from, it assigns to Direct source. No more, it is what it is. We measure similar than them, for now there is not way to assign an “Orphan” click to another source that is not Direct.

But what happens with conversions?

Google Analytics assign conversion to the last click that “IS NOT” Direct. Consequently, if a user does have the below journey:

SEO > email > PPC > Direct. Google assign the conversion to Direct.

We assign a percentage of the conversion greater or lesser than the last click, since a click even if we do not know the source, it does exist.

For this reason is very important to work with a marketing attribution software.

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