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everyone, have a little dilemma and was hoping to get some advice here. I recently installed a new SSL (3 months ago) to force our URL to start with https://. The site was earlier accessible through https:// and http:// prefix however now I have made it so that all urls are redirected to the correct https:// version. The problem is that direct traffic has dropped by more than 50% after implementing these changes and I can for the life of me figure out why.

Why would the direct traffic drop all of sudden after making these changes? I am starting to suspect that the earlier data was inflated and that Google analytics was counting users coming from a http:// version of the URL to a https:// version of the URL was counted as direct traffic. Could that be it? Any other possible causes?

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    First things first. You have to be looking at both http and https properties. I assume you have them? As well, you are in effect removing the http site in total. Implementing https is a serious disruption. It is to be expected. – closetnoc Oct 2 '17 at 21:53
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    Most direct traffic isn't actually direct type in traffic. "Direct" traffic in GA is traffic that does not sent a referrer. There are many reasons that this happens for reason other than somebody typing a URL into their browser. See What causes an empty referrer field in a webserver log file? – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 3 '17 at 17:16
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Where external https sites were linking to http site pages before the change over, users arriving via those links would be seen as direct traffic in GA. With the site now all changed to https, less referral data will be incorrectly reported as direct/none.

Also given that the site pages were available via both protocols prior https changeover, it's very likely the original medium/source for some visits was being lost to direct/none mid session, due to moving from a https page to a http page. The change in source during a session will force the current session to end and a new session to begin.

So users and pageviews shouldn't vary too much however there should also be a similar marked decrease in the number of sessions.

Usually, because the website domain is on the Referral Exclusion List, the initial source/medium wont be lost. However, because Https does not pass referrer info to http by default to begin with, in this situation it does get overwritten by direct/none.

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