Traffic Sources: a website’s DNA.

What can we learn from knowing the traffic sources to a website? Well, the truth is that we can learn a lot.

Knowing the sources of traffic doesn’t only give us an idea of where marketing efforts have been put to drive traffic but also would let us know things such as the strength of a brand or how engaging is their content or product across social networks.

The Traffic Sources graph on SimilarWeb’s overview let’s you see this instantly. We’ve divided the traffic that every site receives into six different sources:

-          DIRECT: when users type the website’s URL straight into their browser. Websites with a high percentage of direct traffic are likely to be powerful brands. Users visit their sites knowing what to expect and

-          SEARCH: this shows the traffic coming from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Further down on the page, we’ll also show what’s the website’s ratio of Organic vs Paid search traffic which will help you assessing how strong the site is in terms of SEO and how much investment goes towards PPC.

-          REFERRALS: this is the traffic coming from links on other websites.

-          SOCIAL: as social media networks gain more power, the traffic coming from this source is a good indicator of the buzz created by a website’s product or service and

-          MAIL: traffic coming from links within email messages. Websites that rely heavily on E-marketing such as will show a high proportion of their traffic coming from Mail.

-          DISPLAY ADS: shows the amount of traffic coming from banner advertising.

What do you think of our representation of traffic sources? Have you discovered any surprising insights? Have you seen any interesting comparisons? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Traffic sources graph example

Traffic sources graph example

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Daniel Buchuk

Head of Brand & Strategy for SimilarWeb. Obsessed with web measurement, the internet, pop music and great TV. Wannabe cool-hunter.