traffic types

Types of Web Traffic: 5 Main Channels to Attract Visitors to a Website

01 March, 2018

An improvement of site traffic is a cornerstone of any successful online business. A steady and growing flow of visitors to your website is key to ensure the prosperous development of your business, win the market, and leave your competitors well behind.

Maybe not all of our readers understand some specific terminology, so let’s first clarify what is “traffic” and what do people mean by this word. If to make a long story short, it’s about visitors that come to your website from a variety of sources such as Google Search, Facebook or any other social network, mailout and so on. Consequently, there are different types of site traffic that will be discussed in our article as its title announces.

A website is a kind of a point of contact between potential customers and your business. A part of visitors that come to your page buy some products or order a service. So it is absolutely logical that if you find a way to increase website traffic volume, you will be able to enjoy an increase in profit.

Regardless of how well-thought-out and visually appealing your website is, with no traffic, metaphorically speaking, it is more dead than alive. Even for online marketing professionals, the increase of web traffic in commercial topics may be a real challenge. So what can we say about entrepreneurs that actually have to care about the development of their business instead of dealing with technical issues and penetrating online marketing.

Nevertheless, when you understand what types of traffic exist and what traffic channel can potentially attract visitors, this helps you to see the direction of work and generally makes a campaign for business promotion more clear and organized. And another important thing. Usually, the most successful marketing strategies simultaneously combine several ways of attracting customers.

The Main Types of Traffic

Below you can read more about five main types of web traffic and learn about key features of each of them. All channels are equally important as they may have an additional positive impact on the development of a business.

Organic (search) traffic

These are people that have found your website using a specific query in a search engine. For example, a user can type in a search bar “leather cases for iPhone”, see a link to the website of your online store in the list of results, and click on it to visit the page. Generally, Google Search is the most popular in the world, but in some regions, people also widely use other search engines.

search traffic

Organic traffic can greatly scale up your business, which is proven by Lemarbet’s case studies. This means that the more effort you put to attract visitors, the better return you will get. The results won’t arrive fast, but they can have an exponential character.

The number of visitors that come to your website from search depends on its ranking in search engines for different keywords. To improve its visibility for target queries you have to do search engine optimization of both separate pages and the whole website. Also, you should regularly work on external factors that influence website traffic rankings.

The visibility of a website in search results is of crucial importance for organic traffic growth. To improve site traffic you have to do a keywords research, optimize the existing pages and create new ones, add high-quality and unique articles, and make not only other websites but also users of social networks link to your page. It’s a tireless work that takes a lot of time but is fully rewarded.

Now SEO is already a full-fledged study, a complex of difficult tasks. These tasks ensure better compliance of a site with the quality criteria of search engines, which are constantly upgraded. To achieve success in this respect, it’s better to ask for a professional help. This way, you will save your time and avoid possible negative consequences.

But some issues you can cover on your own. If you are interested, take a look at our articles “Ecommerce SEO – Formula for Success” and “27 DIY Ways to Promote Your Site and Get More Traffic”.

Paid traffic

This category includes visitors that come to your website from any type of online ads. For example, Google AdWords, ads on Facebook, display advertising, and other similar channels. Google AdWords, a contextual advertising network, is one of the main providers of paid traffic in the world.

When you attract visitors through paid traffic, the main advantage is that you can fully control their flow by various parameters. For example, you can decide how many conversions your website gets and when to use geographic and other types of targeting.

A disadvantage is obviously the need to pay for conversions and displays. For websites working in commercial topics, driving traffic may be pretty costly. And when you run out of money, conversions to the website (and customers) will also disappear.

For instance, here is how ads in Google Search look like:

google ad

In Facebook news feed:

facebook ad

And during a video playback on YouTube:

youtube ad

Advertisers’ ads can be displayed in different formats, placed in search, various areas of pages, text, and other types of content. This topic was in more detail discussed in the article about types of online advertising, which I recommend you to read.

Direct traffic

Direct traffic includes any visitors that come directly to a website instead of using other channels. For example, when a user types the URL of the website in the address bar of a browser or clicks on a previously saved bookmark.

direct traffic

Direct traffic can comprise a relatively small part of the total amount of conversions, but it is extremely important for any project. It is a kind of an indicator of users’ loyalty and brand awareness.

For informational projects, the main share of such conversions consists of returning readers whereas, for commercial websites, these are customers that return to read some new information, view arrivals in a catalog, or make a repeat purchase.

If your website gets a lot of direct traffic, it’s a great indicator that people do know about your business, products, and services that you offer. It’s really good if users can easily recall the name and address of your website when they need them, and then visit your page without any prompt.


To increase the share of direct traffic, it’s necessary to be more active in both online and offline marketing. For example, you can use display ads for brand promotion, organize special offers and contests, print and distribute flyers or brochures.

Referral traffic

Referral traffic is mainly comprised of people that come to your website through different links on other resources (including crowd marketing). For example, if you published a press release with a link to your website on a third party resource, and somebody clicked on it and came to your page, this will be a referral conversion. In Google Analytics, you can see such conversions in Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels.


The principle used to increase a volume of referral traffic is quite simple: the more links to your website will appear on popular resources, the more people will come to it. It is extremely important to place links on visited pages, as the probability of conversion from websites with over thousands of visitors per day will be much higher.

Backlinks can be added not only in articles, but also in comments, thematic discussions, active users’ signatures, emails, on forums, and other places. In this case, the topic plays a crucial role, as the readers of a culinary website are not likely to get really interested in the link to a page about construction.

Backlinks are originally the very foundation of the Internet, and users will have more trust to companies that are often mentioned on reputable websites. This is similar to the situation with reviews in online stores that we discussed before.

The main thing when you try to increase the number of backlinks to your website is to benefit your page instead of accidentally harming it. We are talking about possible punishment from search engines for attempts to manipulate search results. That’s why you’d better contact professionals on this matter.

Social traffic

As you can see from its name, social traffic consists of users that have found a link to one of your pages and followed it in any of the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others. The volume of such conversions depends on how active the company is in social networks and how well it interacts with the audience and can predict its interests.

By creating a strong community with highly involved and active subscribers, you can get your “piece of traffic pie” from platforms with millions of users. It’s a different matter that this task is not an easy one and most probably you will have to use the assistance of third party contractors.

When you start implementing your marketing strategy and actively work with social networks, most probably you will soon notice that some social platforms bring more traffic than others. To check this information, go to Google Analytics, under Acquisition -> Social -> Network Referrals:

network refferals

The moment you get to the assessment of your site traffic, it would be a pretty reasonable solution to reorganize your marketing strategy keeping in mind this information. Redistribute your efforts and budget towards those social networks that bring you the most traffic.

Note These Several Recommendations

The understanding of peculiarities of a certain type of traffic simplifies the development of a marketing strategy for business promotion online. We cannot say that only one source of traffic can become for you a single and best channel to attract customers.

Potential buyers can come to your website from an absolute variety of places. By increasing traffic in all directions, you will be able to cover the broadest audience. For instance, here is how assisted conversions in Google Analytics look like:


multi-channel conversion

In fact, almost in any case, we deal with the two main types of traffic: the traffic you can manage and the one which completely depends on a third party (a search engine, a social network). An absolutely logical conclusion is that you should focus on the thing you can control and don’t pay attention to everything else.

However, such approach will be only partially correct. The best option is to consider the work with traffic in terms of strategies. And from the long-term perspective, SEO promotion – the increase of uncontrolled but free website traffic – will certainly be the best strategic choice. Whereas paid traffic still should be viewed as a great tool to attract visitors in a fast and short-term manner.

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