What does it mean when Google Analytics source & medium shows as direct / (none)?

2019-04-18

When reviewing your Google Analytics report to determine where your website traffic is coming from you may notice some traffic source/medium showing as ‘direct / (none) in Google Analytics.

What does this mean? It’s certainly not actionable data is it? Not very.

Traffic usually gets grouped into this ‘Direct/(none)’ group when it comes from one of the following channels that came directly to your website, like the following ways:

  • They bookmarked your website from a previous visit and clicked on the bookmark to visit your site again
  • They type in your domain address directly into the address bar.
  • They click on a link to your website from inside an instant message client or email client.
  • They scan a QR code to access your website.

You get the idea, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Google states that traffic with a source/medium of direct / (none) is traffic in which the referrer is unknown AND ‘for which no prior campaign data could be found for the cookie (user)’.

Obviously, there’s nothing we can do if somebody just types in our domain name or somebody shares our domain name via email or chat. That traffic will likely always show up with a source/medium of direct / (none), but you can get in the habit of using UTM parameters for the website links you put in your own email marketing and with any QR codes you use in order to more accurately identify those traffic Mediums.