Study Shows Organic Search Responsible for 64% of Web Traffic

SMS Text
Study Shows Organic Search Responsible for 64% of Web Traffic

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.

Here is Conductor’s new set of findings:

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.

Matt Southern
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing... Read Full Bio
Matt Southern
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Jane

    Wow. So much mystery with Google analytics data. Direct traffic could mean organic traffic now. And then we have the problem of “not provided” too!

    Interesting study and hats off to Groupon for having the courage to deindex their site from Google for this study!

    Thanks for sharing Matt.

    • Kelsey Jones

      I agree! I thought it was so interesting that Groupon agreed to step up to the plate.

  • Norman

    It is so easy to assume that direct means direct and organic means organic, that I question these results more then I would question my assumptions on Google’s labeling of traffic, even though I put more trust in these results then I do in Google. Grrrr.

  • Scott P. Dailey (@scottpdailey)

    Oh hi person who feeds his/her children with the money earned from advising businesses on their SEO efforts, “the leads you got from people who already knew your customer actually came from people who don’t. Oops. My bad. Peace and I’m out!” Said Google.

  • Denise

    Dangerous to make conclusions based on just one case – still something that should be researched further before making too big assumptions. Maybe it’s time to rething seo tracking..

  • codyecp

    Quick question then…. does auto-completion of URL’s within Google Chrome count as a search or direct traffic or both? Might be worth looking into….

    • Kelsey Jones

      That’s a great point, Cody. hadn’t thought of that. Is there a way to even track with traffic came from auto-complete vs manual typing?

  • Cassab Thiago

    We can´t say that 64% of visits is from organic search just cause Groupon made a research, we need more than it, we need a realy big research, from thousands of sites, not just one.
    If you have a complete research iwould like to check it out.

    Thanks a lot

  • Dimitris

    How much time does it take for a page to be indexted on google?

  • Dr.Spencer Jones

    No wonder. That’s possibly an overall figure rather than just the Groupon stats. Google has grown so big that we can’t ignore big “G’s” existence anymore. If you want serious traffic, you need to know how to battle to the top at Google.

  • Renasc

    Merely 6 hours measurement can’t give exact picture and industry should not go with this very small duration study.

    Also, not sure what they mean deindexing from Google for 6 hours.

  • Alan Parsons

    There is nothing more natural than organic search