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60% OF DIRECT TRAFFIC IS 
ORGANIC?!? 
Article “Experiment Shows Up To 60% Of ‘Direct’ Traffic Is Actually Organic Search” ...
ARTICLE OVERVIEW 
Experiment from Groupon that de-indexed their site from 
Google for 6 hours in attempt to find attributi...
What happened when Groupon de-indexed themselves: 
3
GRABBED ATTENTION 
3rd most shared SEO article on Search Engine Land since July 
(6k+ shares, 140 articles in category). 
...
WHY DID WE CARE? 
Excitement: this was an unusually bold experiment. 
Money: we all want to correctly determine per-channe...
FOLLOW-UP ANALYSES 
Moz found: 
- Negligible effect on Direct traffic by de-indexing 
followerwonk.com. 
- Site re-inclusi...
What Moz (via followerwonk) found: 
(no meaningful change) 
What I found: 
(much more than 60%) 
7
WHAT CAN WE LEARN? 
Design & pitch your ideal experiment. Definitive answers can 
sometimes only be found by being bold. 
...
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Presentation by Jason Packer at Columbus Web Analytics Wednesday on 10/1/2014.

The format of the event was that participants presented a blog post or article that they found particularly interesting. Jason presented on Gene McKenna's blog Searchengineland article about how he intentionally de-indexed Groupon from Google for a few hours, as well as the fallout and various attempts to replicate the findings by other sites (including Jason's).

http://searchengineland.com/60-direct-traffic-actually-seo-195415

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Jason Packer - SEO Traffic Sometimes Appears as Direct

  1. 1. 60% OF DIRECT TRAFFIC IS ORGANIC?!? Article “Experiment Shows Up To 60% Of ‘Direct’ Traffic Is Actually Organic Search” by Gene McKenna of Groupon, published July 8, 2014 on Search Engine Land http://searchengineland.com/60-direct-traffic-actually-seo-195415 ! Presented by Jason Packer (@jhpacker) at Columbus WAW, Oct 1.
  2. 2. ARTICLE OVERVIEW Experiment from Groupon that de-indexed their site from Google for 6 hours in attempt to find attribution for direct traffic. Experiment found that for long URLs 60% of their Direct visits also disappeared during this time. Is 60% of your whole site’s Direct traffic actually Organic? Probably not. 2
  3. 3. What happened when Groupon de-indexed themselves: 3
  4. 4. GRABBED ATTENTION 3rd most shared SEO article on Search Engine Land since July (6k+ shares, 140 articles in category). Most shares not related to a “news” event. Multiple follow-up articles, including: Moz.com Conductor.com Conductor (again) Quantable.com (me) 4
  5. 5. WHY DID WE CARE? Excitement: this was an unusually bold experiment. Money: we all want to correctly determine per-channel ROI. Curiosity: many have experienced similar effect. Fear: a seemingly “shocking” result that made us question the validity of our analytics, the bedrock of our reporting. 5
  6. 6. FOLLOW-UP ANALYSES Moz found: - Negligible effect on Direct traffic by de-indexing followerwonk.com. - Site re-inclusion happened quickly using WMT URL removal tool. I found: - 4-8% of “average” whole site Direct may be Organic. - “Missed Organic” is best generalize-able metric, likely 2-4%. 6
  7. 7. What Moz (via followerwonk) found: (no meaningful change) What I found: (much more than 60%) 7
  8. 8. WHAT CAN WE LEARN? Design & pitch your ideal experiment. Definitive answers can sometimes only be found by being bold. Read beyond the headline! What may be true for someone else’s experiment is not necessarily true for yours. Explicit rules (like auto-attributing 60% of Direct to Organic in your analytics software) should be avoided unless you have replicable, verifiable tests. It’s better to say “I don’t know” than to mis-attribute and cause confusion or break things in the future. 8

Presentation by Jason Packer at Columbus Web Analytics Wednesday on 10/1/2014. The format of the event was that participants presented a blog post or article that they found particularly interesting. Jason presented on Gene McKenna's blog Searchengineland article about how he intentionally de-indexed Groupon from Google for a few hours, as well as the fallout and various attempts to replicate the findings by other sites (including Jason's). http://searchengineland.com/60-direct-traffic-actually-seo-195415

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