What is Google Analytics Direct Traffic?

Why Do I See So Much Direct Traffic in Google Analytics?

Over the years, one of the most baffling and frustrating things to see in my Google Analytics reporting has always been the amount of Direct Traffic which doesn’t tell me a whole lot about how someone got to my website. direct-traffic-google-analytics

When a visitor lands on your website, they reach it by performing one of many actions. They either:

  1. Know your URL because of your killer marketing and advertising which has generated so much brand awareness that they just type it directly into the browser
  2. Love your site, so it is bookmarked in their browser
  3. See one of your ads in their search results for something related to your product or service
  4. Receive an email from your marketing team that has an attractive CTA that they click
  5. Follow you on social media and click on one of your latest updates about a new blog post on your website
  6. Click on the link in your bio or from a conversation in your favorite Slack group
  7. Click from a link in your software they have installed on their machine
  8. Receive a text message from you with a link to go to a special landing page with an announcement just for them
  9. Maybe someone from your team or someone who if a fan of your company shared the link to your website with someone in a chat window on Skype

Which of these are the Direct Traffic culprits?

If your URL is visited from numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and they aren’t tagged to tell Google Analytics otherwise, they have the potential to show up as Direct Traffic in your acquisition reports. Crazy, right?

What’s the big deal though?

Direct Traffic is kind of like this:


You work your butt off to plan the biggest, most fantastic Christmas party that your team has ever had. Everyone is absolutely raving about it. You have left no detail unplanned. You even thought to get holiday scented soap for the restrooms.

Your co-worker gets up to give a toast to you for doing such an amazing job. But you can’t believe your ears. Did he seriously just take credit for this whole party?

That’s Direct Traffic. Ok – maybe it isn’t Hulk Smash worthy, but you see where I’m going. Direct Traffic will take the credit for all the work that you invest into your campaign if you don’t tell GA to associate it with the campaign you are building.

Let’s start changing the amount Direct Traffic and see better data

It is actually pretty simple. It’s nothing new or magic, it just takes a little time to add a few tags to the end of the links you share and you will start to see that not all traffic is what GA says it is.

The 5 UTM tags that will help you solve this mystery are:






Ok – but what do you mean I just need to add UTM tags?

With a link builder and management application like, you can pretty easily add these tags to the links you’ll use in your next Tweet or newsletter.

It is wise to do some planning before you get started though.

Campaign Name

First – think about your next campaign. Will you be promoting a sale on swim suits? What will you call it in your CRM? Do you have other platforms where you track your campaigns? If so, try to be consistent in what you use in your naming conventions so it is easy to visibly see how your campaign is performing when you login to Google Analytics next time.

Once you decide the campaign name, you can use that for the utm_campaign, or Campaign UTM.


Where will you share the links you are building? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Cool. More than likely, you’ll be using those over and over. Oogur can store those for you so you don’t have to type them in again.


The utm_medium is that general bucket of where you are sharing your links. In this case, we’ll call the medium ‘social’. As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to call it social now, call it social forever. That way, you’re able to look back a year later and get consistent reporting for that medium. If it performs well, maybe invest more resources into that medium. Makes sense, right?


The utm_keyword is not necessary unless you are building a link for a Google AdWords campaign. Otherwise, if where you are sharing is organic, you can skip this one.


This is where you can have a lot of fun. Let’s say your team is really competitive. Sally is confident that her graphic is going to stomp Marcus’ ad. Alright Sally – it’s your time to shine. When you build your links, build one for Sally and one for Marcus and when you share the link, be sure to share the corresponding graphics so you can announce the winner at the end of the campaign.

What I mean with this is that you can track your A/B tests using the utm_content parameter.

Sounds fun, right?

Get started with an oogur account. We just opened up a free tier for you to check out.



Oogur Update: The Transition Away From the Google Shortener API

Google Shutting Down URL Shortener – Here’s What We Are Doing

Have you arrived on the oogur website because you were looking for a better way to manage UTM parameters and the links you build for marketing and PPC campaigns? Sweet. We’ve done our job to get you here.

The not so great news though, is that we have built our application’s shortening and click tracking analytics features using Google’s link shortener API.

Google recently announced that they will be discontinuing support for the service for API users in March 2019. We are being proactive and getting ahead of the timeline.

Three Options

  1. Bitly’s API – a strong contender in this decision. The API allows us to do everything oogur was doing and more.
  2. Firebase Dynamic Links – This is another Google product.
  3. Building our own shortener – The more resource consuming effort.

We will announce the direction we’ve decided to run shortly as we make the updates to our application.

About this update: You can read the Google announcement on their developer blog here.

Get the updates as they happen. Subscribe below.


Why You Should Use UTM Tags + A Few Quick Tips

Let’s start at the beginning. Why are UTM tags such a big deal?

As I prospect new customers and interview marketers who are actively managing digital marketing campaigns, the conversations typically start out with this question:

Do you use UTM tags?

The response to this question steers the next series of questions I ask.

Response A: Yes.

If the marketer is using UTM tags in their campaign links, they immediately understand why oogur exists. To date, each marketer I’ve encountered is using a spreadsheet to manage all the campaign links and UTMs they have built. They know that the process is a pain to keep up with – especially if they are managing multiple clients.

Response B: No.

If the marketer is not yet using UTM tags, the opportunity to educate the marketer presents itself. Often times, a marketer has heard of UTMs, but they either aren’t really sure of how to use them, they feel that the process is too time consuming, or they just haven’t seen the value to convince them to take the time to add UTMs to their campaign building and tracking process.

Which one are you?

This post will be most useful to those that are not currently using UTM tags or are just beginning to use them.

First, remember this: You cannot manage what you do not measure.

What is a UTM tag?

UTM is an acronym for Urchin Tracking Module. Urchin was the name of the software company that Google acquired back in 2005. Their software was the basis of Google Analytics. It seems like it should be GTM rather than UTM, right? I digress…

UTM tags are additional lines of text that are appended to the end of a URL that tells Google Analytics more about your website visitors. I’ll explain more throughout the article.

Take notice

As you are visiting web pages, take a look in the address bar of your browser over the next few days. You’ll begin to notice additional characters in the query string of the URL you’ve clicked on. For example, if you’ve been scrolling through Twitter and you click on an article of interest, you’ll probably see something like this at the end of the URL:

/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sa-editorial-social&utm_content=link-post&utm_term=sustainability_blog_text_free&sf187410215=1 (this came from this article from @sciam on Twitter)


Why you should use UTMs

Before we begin telling you what each UTM means, it is important that you understand why you are using them.

  • Are you using Google Analytics?
    • When you look at your data, have you noticed that you see a lot of “Direct Traffic” showing up?
    • Does that seem odd to you?
    • Direct Traffic appears for a few reasons:
      • Someone has typed your website’s URL directly into the browser address bar.
      • Someone has clicked on a link to your website from an application like Slack or another IM client.
      • A user has clicked on your link from some other source that Google just doesn’t recognize as a referrer so it drops it into a bucket called “Direct Traffic”.
  • Would you like to provide better reports to your team about how your marketing campaigns are performing?
  • Are you hoping to run marketing experiments and want to ensure that the winning segment is tracked and fully engaged?
  • Is your client or management requesting detailed information on how their budget is being spent?

Using UTM parameters in your campaign links will help you with all of these requests.

Let’s break it down – What each UTM means to you

Source – a.k.a. utm_source (aside from the base URL, this is the only required UTM field)

When properly used, the source field is used to identify the source of the referring traffic. Using the example of the query string shared above, the utm_source is Twitter. That just tells the Google Analytics data analyst that the user session came from Twitter. When adding UTM tags, this one is a required field.

Medium – a.k.a. utm_medium (not a required field)

The utm_medium is the field you’ll use to identify a bucket of sources. As an example – if you are building links for a campaign that you’ll share on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, these are all types of social traffic. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll use “social” as your medium or if you want to call it “social media” or however your team refers to these types of sites in your organization.

Campaign Name – a.k.a. utm_campaign (not a required field)

It feels slightly out of order, but the utm_campaign is the third UTM in the order of the link building form. You’ll undoubtedly be creating your links to support a current marketing campaign. Before you begin building your links, decide what you’ll name the campaign. It can align with what you’ve named the campaign in Salesforce or another marketing and sales tracking platform. This will be the displayed in Google Analytics as the campaign name.

Ask yourself: Is the campaign going to be centered around a certain product? Is it for a seasonal sale that you’re going to promote on social? Whatever it is, just be sure that you are naming it something easy to recognize.

Campaign Term – a.k.a. utm_term (not a required field – only use if you are creating the link for a paid AdWords campaign)

For organic or unpaid campaigns, you’ll not need to use this field. If you are creating links to share in your AdWords campaign, you’ll add the paid keyword(s) to the utm_term field.

Campaign Content – a.k.a. utm_content (not required – great for A/B and multivariate tests)

When you are creating links, you’ll often times be publishing content that has different graphics or locations representing your CTA. If you are going to be creating a link to share your blog post that you plan to add simply as a hyperlinked line of text in your email signature, you can name that here as “email signature text link”. Maybe you want to create unique graphics that will be shared in different geographic locations. You could create a graphic specific to Indiana and add “indiana” as your utm_content parameter and the other link will represent “illinois”. See the flexibility?

UTM Tag Housekeeping


Consistency is key. Over time, the results you will see will be much clearer if you stay the course: 

If you decide to use “social” to represent your social media traffic, please always use “social” as your utm_source.

As a best practice, use all lowercase letters in your UTMs

It may feel odd to you at first, but it just takes one link to drive you crazy when analyzing your campaign results in Google Analytics. If you use “facebook” for one link and “Facebook” for another, it doesn’t just create a separate line in your report, it will also jeopardize the accuracy of your attribution reporting. Why does that matter? The ultimate goal is to see the ROI on your campaigns. If the data is skewed, the reporting will be difficult to accurately track.

As tempting as it may be, do not tag content internally on your website. 

UTM tags should only be used in links that you are building to share on sites that are not your domain. If you use them to link internal traffic, you are overwriting the REAL source of traffic to your website. This completely defeats the goal of tracking in the first place.

Tools to use

In your searches for UTM tags, you will likely see a lot of URL builders that have been built for you to use. Google also has their free builder.  These tools are all easy to use, but where they fall short is the management and memory of the links you build which also leaves room for consistency to fail.

You’ll see a lot of blog posts recommending that you use a spreadsheet to either build the links and/or keep track of all the UTMs you’ve used. I’m not a fan of using spreadsheets for marketing campaign tracking. That’s why I started oogur.

Oogur isn’t just a link builder and shortener, but it also retains the memory of all the URLs you’ve built and the UTMs you’ve used. You don’t have to have several tabs open to complete your link building process. Oogur handles it all for you.

After you’ve had the chance to see the inefficiency in maintaining a spreadsheet to keep up with all the marketing campaign links, you’ll see why we decided to have this link builder and UTM tracking application built.

Sign up for an account! If you have questions, feel free to Tweet us @oogurit or drop us a question in the contact form.

Don’t just build it – oogur it!

utm tags demonstrate digital marketing roi2_opt

Using UTM Tags – Critical in Demonstrating ROI in Digital Marketing

UTM tags are critical to your success as a digital marketer

Guest blog post by @MikkoPiippo

Every digital marketer tries to optimize her campaigns and ads. This is just a start: she needs to optimize also the choice of advertising channels. This is impossible without reliable web analytics data.

Optimizing your advertising channels and media budget is not rocket science.

You need to find out the channels providing you with a high ROI. Identify also the channels with low ROI.

Next, you need to allocate more of your budget to the channels with high ROI.

But how can you achieve this?

Track the performance with web analytics

Different advertising tools, of course, provide their own conversion tracking pixels. These are useful for optimizing each channel. For example, you can very well optimize your Facebook advertising using the FB pixel.

But this is not enough for you when you optimise digital marketing as whole: Every advertising platform exaggerates the its own importance.

In a multi-touchpoint, multi-device world you need to have one tool for measuring all your advertising channels. Use one tool and one set of attribution rules for Facebook, AdWords, Twitter, LinkedIn and other campaigns.

Otherwise, you will compare apples and oranges. In this case, it is impossible to know if you should invest more in Facebook of Twitter advertising.

For most advertisers it is enough to have every campaign and ad reliably tracked in Google Analytics.

Unfortunately, every web analytics implementation is broken. The data is almost never reliable.

You might think that your data is perfect. This means only one thing: you haven’t found the bugs yet.

Most of the time, the issues are elementary.

Fix your web analytics implementation

Getting the basics right is the most important step in web analytics. It is much more important than implementing shiniest new things like custom attribution models.

Custom attribution models, custom dimensions and custom metrics are valuable for optimizing a high traffic website. And so are content groupings. But they are useful only if your standard tracking is correctly implemented.

So you should take care of the basics first.

These are:

  1. Campaign tracking.

    • Without campaign tracking, you can’t segment your visitors and conversions based on campaigns. If you don’t segment your visitors, you can’t attribute conversions to correct acquisition channel.
  2. Conversion tracking.

    • The accuracy of your conversion tracking is critical to your success. Without conversion tracking, you can’t optimize anything.
  3. Traffic acquisition costs.

    • You must import the acquisition costs to Google Analytics. Otherwise you can’t analyze the ROI of your campaigns in Google Analytics.
After implementing all this, you can for example:

It all starts with UTM tags

For some of the fixes, you might need developer help. For example, sometimes your developer needs to implement scripts for conversion tracking. Or maybe you need her to automate cost import from Facebook to Google Analytics.

But there are many things you can implement yourself.

Correct use of utm tags is such a thing.

Every marketer can implement correct utm tagging herself. It isn’t complicated at all, it is just something that must be taken care of. And with right tools, it is easier than you think.

Mikko Piippo is web analytics consultant and partner at Hopkins. He blogs and tweets regularly about Google Analytics and digital marketing.

google analytics link management blog

Mentioned by – Marketing Center of Influence Blog

The Indianapolis MarTech Community Is Strong

Recently, I had a call with Douglas Karr. I’ve known him for quite some time now and was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say about oogur. I totally respect this guy. He’s one of those that you can learn something new from every day if you just follow along with his social media accounts.

His personal Twitter is @douglaskarr. His main marketing blog is @martech_zone. You should absolutely visit his website and subscribe to his newsletter to get the latest in new tech also.

About the call

I was so excited to share an oogur demonstration Doug. Leading into the demo, I prefaced the conversation with why I had oogur built and let him know that we were still working on the public-facing website, hoping he wouldn’t judge too harshly.

Turns out, he thought that what I showed him a couple months ago was impressive. He said that he had built a link builder in the past, but what we have put into oogur was different and pretty impressive.

We got the mention!

The result of the call ended with the offer of a blog post on about oogur. I know you’re just dying to read it, so here you go! Check it out!

oogur build and track google analytics campaign urls


Hunted by Product Hunt!

Did you see oogur on

If not, first I should ask: Have you heard of Product Hunt?

Just in case you don’t know what the site is, it is a platform where products, tech products mainly, are given a crowdsourced way to gain traction based on upvoting from the engaged community members.

The Hunt

A Product Hunt “hunter” reached out to me on the iPad entrepreneurial social community called Silo. Manish Sharma was the hunter. He said that he had done a little research on oogur and that he thought it was worthy of sharing with the community. He was great about helping me get prepared to launch on the site.

The Results

Oogur was made it to the front page of Product Hunt and got upvoted 84 times. Only a handful of the votes were my friends! The traffic spike was pretty impressive. Before the hunt, we hadn’t really done much to drive traffic, so we saw about a 2000% boost in traffic for the week. It was short-lived, but now I know that if it happens again, having a great strategy for engagement will be key to retaining the visitors.

You can vote

You can still upvote and help to keep oogur high in the marketing and analytics categories. What are you waiting for?

Go vote!



MongoDB Startup Accelerator Acceptance

Application Accepted!

On the same day that oogur was launched on Product Hunt, MongoDB also announced their first ever Startup Accelerator.

As a new entrepreneur and one that is bootstrap funded, any opportunity to get assistance with costs is attractive. Naturally, I applied.

How to Qualify for the Accelerator

MongoDB had requirements that the startups applying had to meet. Startups were chosen based on program criteria which included the below criteria:

  • Fewer than 15 employees
  • Privately held
  • In business for less than 2 years
  • Bootstrapped, seed funded and/or pre Series A
  • Less than $1M in annual revenue
  • Building a product or service (agencies are not eligible)
  • Willing to participate in co-promotion with MongoDB & AWS
  • Have not previously participated in the MongoDB Startup Accelerator program

Application Submitted & Accepted!

We optimistically filled out the information requested in the online application. We received notification shortly thereafter that our application was approved!

Accelerator Benefits

Not only is our first year (up to $5,000) on MongoDB covered, but these other great benefits are a part of the accelerator:

  • MongoDB Atlas Credits: Get an At†las cluster of up to M30 to use over the course of 6 months
  • Office Hours: 1:1 technical sessions and architecture reviews with MongoDB Solutions Architects
  • Technical Support: Get help on anything – when we have an issue, or if we want advice on things like schema design, indexing, or how to use a feature
  • Online Courses: We can enroll in on-demand MongoDB University online training courses to learn everything we need to build what’s next
  • Passes to MongoDB World: Join us for hands-on and deep-dive technical sessions at our annual user conference, giving you the tools you need to build and deploy your giant ideas.
  • VC Introductions: Introductions to venture capital firms in the MongoDB network

If you’re interested in additional details, you can learn more about the program here!

Do you have startup experiences you can share to help me and others learn from your experiences? Add them in the comments!

Apple Smart Watch

Model - BE270






Apple Smart Watch

Model - BE270