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How To Identify And Deal With Dark Traffic?


Every online marketer needs to be aware of the dark side of Google Analytics, which is ‘dark traffic’. However, it is hard to identify it as it lies deep under the layers of thousands of marketing activities taking place every second. Most of the online marketing efforts are aimed at increasing traffic on a website – through direct referrals, and through diverted traffic from ads.

Generally, a website requires 10-20% of its entire traffic through direct referrals, or else it is considered to have a poor reach. On the other hand, if the incoming traffic through direct referrals is very high, then the website can be considered to have dark traffic, which is the incoming traffic that arrives from an unidentified URL. The root source of such traffic may not be tracked because this traffic lacks proper referrer string of the original source.

There are various sources that bring dark traffic like mobile apps, emails, and secured sites. Traffic coming in through mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Hangouts does not show up as app referral as most of the apps use in-app browsers which cannot be tracked. Also, the URLs shared in email don’t have the sourced data, and the source data tailed to the traffic coming from secured HTTPS sites is lost. Even though these sources are known, an online marketer may not be certain about each and every direct visit to the website. They may not be sure whether a user has landed by entering the URL or by accessing a bookmark. With the misrepresented traffic statistics from different sources, it becomes difficult to evaluate the success of online marketing efforts. But, as an online marketer, one should definitely be worried about dark traffic as it makes it difficult to know whether the marketing efforts put in are effective or not. Only after knowing this can one decide what needs to be changed and how an ongoing campaign can be enhanced. You can hire professional SEO services in India who know their job very well and can plan up a perfect marketing strategy to bring the best SEO results for your business.

How to deal with dark traffic?

Dealing with dark traffic is one of the most important jobs of an online marketer, which can be handled in three ways – by using UTM parameters, by using Google Analytics, and by analyzing campaigns. Let us look into all the three in detail.

Using UTM parameters

You can tag all the links on campaigns or content using Google UTM parameters, which are codes added at the end of a URL to tag etra information regarding the link.

Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics can help you estimate how much of the direct traffic coming to your site is dark traffic by looking at the landing pages for direct traffic. You can create custom reports and filter pages that can attract visitors directly to your homepage or front pages. Dark traffic can also be identified by evaluating visits left after removing landing pages from the traffic report. This way, an online marketer can get clues to the amount of dark traffic, even if the root sources of such traffic cannot be revealed; using which they can construct their marketing strategies.

Analyzing campaigns

This method is not helpful for past campaigns, but it can help analyze present campaigns that boosted direct visits. For this, you can screen your existing marketing campaigns after pulling out the real direct traffic, by utilizing the above two methods.


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