Lead Them Not to the Dark Side: Identifying Dark Traffic

Posted on Apr 19 2016 - 12:39pm by Expert-Zine

Identifying Dark Traffic in SydneyWhen your hard-earned traffic goes to the so-called ‘dark side,’ it’s time for a mini panic attack.

Traffic that goes unaccounted for results in dark traffic, which is a bump in your analytics strategy. As a result, you can’t easily track your marketing efforts, eventually affecting decisions on how your campaign should (or should not) perform.

It’s tempting to brush off the idea of dark traffic. But a video from Mash Media argues that you must take all marketing efforts seriously. Rather than watch your traffic go to the dark side, it’s time to start pulling them back.

Defining Dark Traffic

All website analytics tools divide site traffic into three: direct, search and referring websites (depending on the originating medium).

Having 10 to 20% of your visitor traffic typing directly in the URL is normal. If you’re experiencing low numbers, it’s time to focus on your brand awareness. On the other hand, if the numbers are too high, it’s a sign of dark traffic.

Dark traffic reaches websites from a difficult-to-track URL. It’s also part of direct traffic in analytics programs due to its lack of referrer string, which helps the original source. Direct traffic should be all about people visiting your site directly. Some of these numbers, however, tend to be over reported because of the incorrect lumping.

It’s a Pretty Big Deal

When you experience artificial inflation in your direct numbers but have understated results from email, organic search, or social media, dark traffic is definitely at work. If not addressed immediately, expect discrepancies to reach up to 60%.

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Studies from groups such as Groupon examined changes in direct traffic and organic search, comparing results from a particular time period to recorded traffic numbers on the same day. Results revealed that misinterpretations of both, which results in a negative impact on experts who try to analyze, measure, report, and make decisions.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let dark traffic screw your analytics, affect your site, and jeopardize all your marketing efforts. While identifying traffic has its difficulties, it’s not entirely impossible. Following recommendations from SEO experts gives you a better understanding of the source of your traffic. It also guides you in terms of the marketing decisions you make.