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I have been speaking about that “dreaded Direct” as a traffic source in Google Analytics for a long time, It was actually sparked because of a conversation with someone who was being trained to become a “growth hacker”, what she had learned was to see direct traffic in Google Analytics as “brand” traffic / typed in traffic. My first reaction was ‘no you can’t do that’, but now I had to figure out how to properly define direct traffic. Jump straight to the how-to fix Google Analytics traffic sources and channels here.

Here’s my simple definition;

Direct traffic is any pageview sent to Google Analytics without either a ‘http referrer’ or UTM tracking applied.

Arnout Hellemans 2019
Arnout Hellemans on fixing Google Analytics @ InOrbit2019

There are quite a few fixes some of which can be found in this deck on how to fix Google Analytics;

How to fix Google Analytics traffic sources and channels.

Time needed: 15 minutes

How to fix Google Analytics traffic sources:

  1. One UTM naming convention

    Create one single naming convention (and make them all lowercase)

  2. UTM tag all non http referrers

    UTM tag your:
    – Feeds
    – Email campaigns
    – PDF downloadable assets (case studies, spec sheets, whitepapers)
    – OpenGraph URL’s
    – Employee signatures
    – etc.

  3. Create a separate Google Analytics view

    Make sure to set up a test view before you start messing about with channel groupings

  4. Set up channels

    Set up channels to group the different traffic sources together for easier reporting.

  5. Finally set the default channel grouping in the same way

    Make sure to overwrite the default channel grouping when you are happy with the new.

How to fix Google Analytics traffic sources and channels.

Arnout Hellemans

Arnout Hellemans, online (search) marketer with a huge focus on conversions from Amsterdam. I have a passion for making the web more usable and helping businesses getting the most out of their online adventures.

See all posts by arnouthellemans

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