Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

Misunderstood Metrics #3: Direct Traffic

(or how someone did not actually type in a URL 280 characters long)

Here’s a question I got that represents much of the confusion around direct traffic.

In my direct traffic report I’m seeing many deep page links receiving visits from direct traffic.  I heard that people bookmarking the page and using that URL to visit the website will measured as direct traffic, that’s fine. But here I’m sure typing and bookmarking all the internal pages is not possible.  So can you please explain me how these URLs come into the direct traffic report.

The reason he’s seeing this is because traffic credited as “direct” or “none” is often explained as reflecting typed or bookmarked traffic, but there’s really more to it than that.   In reality, direct traffic is anything where there’s no referral info coming in from a browser.


  1. typing in the URL/ bookmarking the URL and clicking on it (the standard explanation)
  2. untagged emails that get clicked on from mobile email apps or desktop email clients like Outlook
  3. clicks from instant messaging apps like Skype or MSN, if your users are sending links to their friends in chat
  4. mobile chat apps like Whatsapp, Slack, WeChat, etc.
  5. tracking issues that strip out or overwrite the referral information, for example with certain kinds of redirects
  6. incomplete site tagging, for example if a user lands on an untagged page of your site, then navigates to a tagged page of your site

Quick links to other misunderstood GA metrics: