Organic Traffic vs Direct Traffic

By Lauren Gaggioli

When building or growing a website for your online business, timeless SEO strategies will leverage the data around both the organic traffic and the direct traffic that your website receives. 

But if you’re seeing organic traffic vs direct traffic noted on your Google Analytics report and don’t know the difference between the two, I’m here to help.

Organic traffic stems from search engine results, while direct traffic comes from people visiting your website directly via bookmarks or typing the URL.

In other words…

Your digital visitors come from different sources. And both types of traffic are essential for visibility and holistic growth to help your business flourish. 

BUT anytime you’re discussing organic traffic, it’s important to take it a step further in looking at where the organic traffic is coming from and how you’re utilizing it within your entire organic marketing ecosystem.

It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about what the numbers mean and what you can do with them going forward.

As an SEO coach for entrepreneurs as well as an organic content strategist, I can assure you this question of organic vs direct traffic comes up a lot. 

Especially when doing an SEO audit of your website.

The more you understand the difference between them, the more useful they are going to be in understanding how to expand the reach of your business and help answer the most pressing questions or pain points for your target audience.

What Is The Difference Between Direct Traffic And Organic Traffic? 

Direct traffic is when people visit your website by typing your URL directly into their Google URL bar (or another search engine browser) and go directly to your website. 

This means two things:

  1. They knew who you were.
  2. They knew how to find your specific website in order to end up there. 

What I often see, particularly with people who have brand name recognition, they most often rely on people going to the Google search bar, typing in their name, and then using that method to end up on their website. 

So that would be like someone going to the Google search bar and typing in Lauren Gaggioli, SEO consultant and then ending up here. 

On the other hand, organic traffic refers to the visitors who come to your website through unpaid searching results on search engines like Google. 

Organic traffic means:

  1. They don’t necessarily know who you are.
  2. They found you by looking for what you do.

This traffic is generated when people find your site by searching for keywords related to your content or business.

They said, Hey Google, I need help

For me, that would be someone typing a specific question such as Why is SEO important for small business? into the Google query bar and ending up on my website. 

They asked a question and your website was dished up as the possible answer to their question, as determined by Google

That is true organic traffic. 

Understanding Good Organic Traffic

You have to go a step further when you're examining your organic traffic and say, okay, they found me through organic search…

But what did this potential customer type in before they ended up on my website? 

And that is where one of my favorite tools for SEO research comes into play. 


Ahrefs has a suite of free SEO tools, and the one I'm going to direct you to right now is the website traffic checker

When you type your website into the traffic checker, Ahrefs will tell you exactly how many people are coming to your website via organic search AND what queries they're coming for. 

Now, you can also do this in Google Search Console if you know how to use it, but Ahrefs provides the easiest, lowest barrier to entry method to check out how your website is being found.

Some businesses (knowingly or not) rely on people already being aware of them, then coming through organic search by way of already knowing their name. 

This would be like someone asking Google, how do I join Lauren Gaggioli’s mastermind group?

If that is what is happening on your site, it still requires people to know your name in order to find you. 

That's not exactly organic search working at its best. 

When leveraged correctly, the greatest opportunity with organic search is for people who don't yet know us to be able to find us at the precise moment they are in need of the information or services we provide on our websites. 

We want to deputize Google to vouch for us (and introduce us) to complete strangers. 

SEO is how we do that.

Overall, there are three primary types of queries that can lead a consumer to your website:

  • Navigational queries, where somebody types in your name or your brands' name to find your website
  • Informational queries, where somebody types in questions they have or information they need
  • Transactional queries, where somebody types in a product that they want to buy 

There is nothing wrong with navigational queries, but we want to ensure those aren’t the only types of queries coming to your digital doors.

Because if most people are currently coming to your site through navigational queries, they have to know who you are before they're connected to you. We want to start flipping that script and use SEO to connect with the right customer, in the best way, and at the best time for both of you.

That also means following best SEO practices, starting to build domain authority by creating contextual backlinks, and learning more about building your organic marketing ecosystem to bring other types of queries your way as well.

We want your business to be found for the services and products that you offer to anyone who could benefit from what you provide - even if they don't know your name...yet.

Matchmaking is Google's superpower.

We want to wield it well so we can turn strangers on the internet into happy clients. 

After all, that's the name of the game! But more folks coming through the doors doesn't necessarily mean they'll join your community or buy from you. 

If you want to learn how to improve conversion, you'll have to consider how SEO and user experience intersect to create a conversion-friendly experience for those who find your website via informational or transactional queries.

Ready To Boost Your Website's Organic Traffic?

If you want to take this information further, it's important to step back and get a sense of the foundation from which you are building.

To do so, benchmarking your website is the best place to start. 

I have a free three-part mini course called the DIY website audit that gives you visibility into whether or not you are hitting the mark for Google. 

Also in that process, we’ll consider the user experience of your site and how to use all of those navigational, informational, and transactional queries to your advantage. 

Then, once you have Google doing the heavy lifting of generating inbound traffic, you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on the actual work of your business and doing what you love.

Ready to “friend” Google?

Share your name and email address below and I’ll send you the course right away so you can start to discover additional ways to attract more organic traffic and support your business the way it deserves to be supported.