Making sense of Google Analytics Reports – Traffic Sources

Understanding Traffic Sources



This can mean:

  • your visitor typed your website address directly into the browser
  • your visitor clicked the link to your website in your email footer
  • your visitor clicked a link inside an email or PDF
  • your visitor has your site bookmarked


A referral is like a recommendation from one website to another. Referral traffic is Google’s method of reporting visits that came to your site from sources outside of its search engine.

Paid Search

Paid search relates to the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing search engine ads – such as Google AdWords.


Display advertising (banner advertising) is a form of advertising that conveys a commercial message visually using text, logos, photographs or other graphics. The report is showing how many visitors clicked on your ad to get to your website.

Organic Search

Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being advertisements.

Because so few ordinary users realized that many of the highest placed “results” on search engine results pages were actually ads, it became important within the search engine optimization industry to distinguish between the two types of content. This was because the perspective among general users was that all the listings were in fact “results”, the qualifier “organic” was invented to distinguish the real search results from the ads.


The Social Sources Report gives you a complete breakdown of what social media networks are sending you traffic.

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