How Google Analytics attribute conversions to Direct Traffic?

Today I am going to reveal one of the most kept secrets in Google Analytics which will fundamentally change the way you look at revenue and conversions generated through direct traffic.

What you probably don’t know is, how Google Analytics attributes conversions to Direct Traffic.

Direct traffic is a SEO killer which I have said and proved several times through various case studies and conversion segments:

Truth about direct traffic (The old news)

All untagged or improperly tagged marketing campaigns from display ads to emails can be treated as direct traffic by Google.

Whenever a referrer is not passed, the traffic is treated as direct traffic by Google.

Mobile applications don’t send a referrer, word/PDF documents don’t send a referrer. 302 redirects sometimes caused the referrer to be dropped.

Sometimes browsers don’t pass the referrer.

During http to https redirect (or vice versa) the referrer is not passed because of security reasons.

All such traffic is treated as direct traffic by Google.

Source: You are doing Google Analytics all wrong. Here is why

For all the avid readers of my blog, this is an old news.

So, what is the new news then?

Google Analytics Attribute Conversions to direct traffic in TWO ways

1. In case of non-multi channel funnel reports in Google Analytics, the conversion is attributed to the previous non-direct campaign/traffic source if there is one.

For example:

If a person clicked on an organic search listing to visit your website and then later returned to your website directly and made a purchase then Google will attribute conversion to the organic search and not to the direct traffic.

Lets say a user visit your website through a keyword ‘excel for seo‘.

A few days later, he came directly to your website.

Now in Google Analytics non-multi channel funnel reports, you will see the user’s activity in your report like this:

Keyword “excel for seo” – visits: 2
Direct – Visits: 0

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2. In case of multi channel funnel reports in Google Analytics, the conversion is attributed to the direct traffic (provided direct traffic is the last interaction) even if previous campaign/source is non-direct.

For example:

If a person clicked on an organic search listing to visit your website and then later returned to your website directly and made a purchase then Google will attribute conversion to the direct traffic and not to the organic search.

Lets say a user visit your website through a keyword ‘Facebook Analytics‘.

A few days later, he came directly to your website

Now in Google Analytics multi channel funnel reports you will see the user’s activity in your report like this:

Keyword “Facebook Analytics” – visits: 1
Direct – Visits: 1

So Google attributes conversions to direct traffic in 2 ways and not just in one way.

Feel free to confirm my findings yourself.

Takeaway

When you are analysing the impact of direct traffic on your business bottom-line, it is wise to look and draw conclusions from the non-multi channel funnel reports rather than the multi channel funnel reports, as non-multi channel funnel reports present true customer buying behavior in case of direct traffic.

Related Article: Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

 

How to use Digital Analytics to generate floods of new sales and customers for your business

(Even if you are completely new to Digital Analytics)

Here’s What We’re Going To Cover…

#1 - The number 1 reason why most marketers and business owners are not able to scale their advertising and maximise sales. 

#2 - Why you won’t get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing Google Analytics. 

#3 - The number 1 reason why conversion optimization is not working for your business. 

#4 - How to advertise on any marketing platform for FREE with an unlimited budget.

 

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My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence.

The Digital Analytics Association is a world renowned not-for-profit association which helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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