Entrepreneurs often reach out to me because they want to use SEO to increase traffic to their website. But in addition to organic search traffic (which is what SEO works to improve), there are other ways to get new visitors to your site.

There are four main inbound types of traffic sources to a website: Direct, referral, organic & social.*

*Actually, there are six when you count traffic coming from your e-mail list and from paid advertising, but we’ll get to those another day.

In addition to organic search traffic (which is what SEO works to improve), there are 3 other traffic sources to get new visitors to your site. Find out more about them in this quick guide!

Because even if it’s scary to look at the data traffic is coming to your page. And the more you know about who is finding you, the more you can target your message to them.

Website Traffic Source #1: Direct Traffic

If you were driving to your mom’s house, you would know the way intrinsically because you grew up there and you’ve been there a million times. It would be hard to get lost. That’s a direct traffic source.

Direct traffic is from visitors who either bookmarked your site or know your business well enough to type your URL directly into their browser. These are generally people who know you well, and these are often your biggest fans. This can be the hardest type of traffic to grow, because it requires greater brand awareness, which can be tough to cultivate.

Website Traffic Source #2: Referral Traffic

If you were driving, got lost & rolled down your window to ask direction from a neighbor, that would be a referral traffic source.

People find your site through links that direct to your site. When someone chooses to click and follow that link, that person is considered a referral visitor. Referral traffic is simple to increase; the more links you have on high-authority or popular sources, the more people will want to follow your links and get to your site.

Website Traffic Source #3: Organic Search Traffic

If you were driving and plugged the directions into your GPS, that would be a search traffic source.

These people found your website through an online search. Google has the market share of online searches (more than 2/3, with the remaining 1/3 coming from Bing & Yahoo).

The way to increase your organic search traffic is through search engine optimization (SEO), which is a collection of strategies that make your site more authoritative and increase your ranks for various search terms.

Website Traffic Source #4: Social Traffic

If your friend gave you directions on where to go (probably using landmarks instead of street names), that’s a social traffic source.

Any traffic that heads to your website from any social media source: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Reddit, etc.

Now let’s look at how each of these four traffic sources could use the same opportunity to drive traffic your website:

Let’s say you recently were a guest on a podcast.

  • Direct: You repeated your URL a few times, a listener might remember it and type it directly into her browser.
  • Referral: If a listener went to the podcast page and clicked through to your link in the show notes,.
  • Organic: The listener Googled “your name + the podcast name” and found your page.
  • Social: The listener saw an overview of the podcast on Facebook and clicked through.

Now that you know the kinds of website traffic sources, discover how people are finding your website!

See your traffic sources for the past 3 months.

What’s your biggest source of traffic? Were you surprised by any info? Drop me an e-mail to let me know what you found!