Groupon recently published a study showing that 60% of what Google Analytics defines as “direct traffic” is actually organic traffic.
The study was conducted by Groupon’s Director of Product Management, who heads their organic search. In the study he shared details about an experiment that involved completely deindexing Groupon from Google for 6 hours.
After deindexing the site from Google, ensuring no traffic would be coming from Google for the next 6 hours, he measured to what extent the amount of direct visits would be impacted in the Google Analytics reports.
His findings show that direct visits dropped by 60%. With that in mind, it can be deduced that 60% of direct traffic is actually organic search traffic.
Building Off The Groupon Study
Conductor, an Internet marketing firm, released a similar kind of study not long ago where they concluded that 47% of traffic came from organic search. Nearly a third (29%) was attributed to direct visits.
Building off of the Groupon study, Conductor revisited their initial study to see what would happen to their results if they plugged in the conclusions of Groupon’s study into their existing data.
By taking 60% of visits originally attributed to ‘direct’ and reallocating them to ‘organic search’, organic search went from 47% of all visits to 64%. Direct visits dropped from 29% of visits to 12%. This significant discrepancy—17% separates the ‘before’ and ‘after’ allocations should be enough to give marketers pause—and question the assumptions on which their digital strategy lies.
The conclusion from the new Conductor study is that, by plugging Groupon’s research into Conductor’s research on web traffic distribution, it’s very possible organic search is responsible for greater percentage of traffic that what was originally thought.