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One of my sites has shown a significant drop in direct traffic. Organic and Referral traffic remain relatively constant. Google Analytics Graph of Traffic Sources

The only possible contributing factor I can think of is a recent DNS change (was run through CloudFlare, now AWS Route 53) but the dates don't line up. I'd like to know if I'm missing something obvious (or not so obvious).

[UPDATE: 17 Aug]: I've run the same report in Analytics for two other related web-properties (same Google Analytics master account) with the same results. There are a number of other sites in the account that aren't showing this - but it looks to be an Analytics tracking issue. Since all three affected sites are using WordPress with the same Google analytics account, i'll be starting some analysis there...

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Has anything else changed on the site? –  Vince Pettit Aug 14 '12 at 8:37
    
No, the site has remained almost unchanged other than weekly content updates. The only recent changes were to the DNS. –  Mike Hudson Aug 14 '12 at 10:11
    
What program are you using to measure visits (the graph)? –  Dave Rook Aug 14 '12 at 10:18
    
How long has this been happening? –  Christopher Aug 14 '12 at 11:26
    
This is Google Analytics (using traffic segments). @Christopher - since Jul 25. –  Mike Hudson Aug 15 '12 at 0:11
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4 Answers

The only thing I can think of is, since you've had a DNS change, is all the A records are not set up!

So you may still have www.domain.com working but domain.com and sub.domain.com do not work (which was a link).

Or any type of URL change - it could be the most popular page URL was www.domain.com/popularpage.html has been updated to www.domain.com/popualrpage.aspx (or similar).

Or if any forwarders are in place, this would make you your own referer and as such that is not direct (at least, Yahoo Analytics, Index Tools, and Going Up used to measure this way)._

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Thanks - Pingdom's DNS check reports all green across the board. –  Mike Hudson Aug 14 '12 at 10:16
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There could be side-effects like:

  • removal of old pages that were bookmarked
  • start of Olympic games in London (27 Jul)
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up vote 0 down vote accepted

After investigating further when I noticed that two other sites were also seeing the same issue (in the same GA account), i looked at 'by technology - browser' as a secondary dimension and noticed that Yottaa was the issue. Their basic site monitoring service was contributing to direct traffic and they made a change mid July which obviously affected reporting by GA.

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It's only a drop of about 30/40 visits. I'd attribute this to summer holidays. Your visitors who normally visit your site directly are probably tanning themselves on a beach somewhere. If it doesn't grow again towards the middle of September you should check your server logs and compare it against your Google Analytics to make sure it's not a problem with GA.

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I have several years of GA code for this account - this is not seasonal. –  Mike Hudson Aug 15 '12 at 0:10
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