It has been discovered that Google Analytics is reading clicks from the Google Home app as direct traffic. This was brought to people’s attention by an SEO named Max Prin on Twitter, where he also shared a screenshot:
— Max Prin (@maxxeight) January 11, 2017
When you ask the Google Home device a question and it responds with a direct answer, it has to get that information from somewhere. Those answers usually come from information contained on a web page in Google’s index.
In the Google Home companion app for iPhone and Android, within the Discover tab, you can find a history of your recent queries and a link to the website where the direct answer was sourced from.
Tapping on the “Visit Website” button will bring you to the original source. Google Analytics should arguably be considering this traffic as organic because the website was originally discovered using a Google search. However, as you can see in the tweet shared above, Google Analytics is counting it as direct traffic.
Typically, direct traffic is only counted when someone manually enters a URL into the address bar of their browser, which makes this discovery a bit of an oddity. Google may adjust this in the future, but for the time being Google is considering all traffic from the Google Home app as direct traffic.
Keep that in mind as you monitor your analytics — a rise in direct traffic could very well mean more people are using the Google Home app to find your content.