How Are Clients Finding My Website?

Google Analytics has some build-in terms that define how people find your website. These terms are organic search, referral, paid search, social, direct, and display. In this article, I am going to describe what these acquisition channels mean, and how this data can help your attorney marketing.

Finding Website Acquisition Data


First, if you are unfamiliar with Google Analytics you will want to know how to find this information. To see how your website gets visitors, you need to visit the “Acquisition” tab in Google Analytics.

The Acquisition section of Google Analytics will show you where your website traffic is coming from. Google breaks down the data by “channels.” Those channels are:

  • Organic Search
  • Direct
  • Social
  • Referral
  • Paid Search
  • Display
  • “Other”

What Do These Acquisition Channels Mean?

The first, and arguably most important, web traffic channel is Organic Search. A website visitor is marked as “organic search” when they use a search engine to find your website.

The second web traffic channel is Direct. If a web visitor is labeled as “direct” it means they visited your website directly, typically by typing your URL into a browser. However, this more often means that Google cannot tell where the user came from, and they are assigned to the “direct” marketing channel.

The Social channel generally means they came from a social media post. Generally, this is not paid social media traffic, but “organic” traffic.

Referral simply means someone came from another website. Typically, through a backlink to your website. The Display channel means the visitor came through online ads, like a Facebook or Google AdWords. There is also a Paid Search channel that shows if a visitor clicked on a promoted search result.

The last two traffic channels are Email and Other. Email is self-explanatory (they used an email link to visit your website.) Other can be confusing, but it typically shows you web traffic that came through a custom tracking link.

Which Traffic Channel is More Important for My Website?

To clarify, traffic channels are the groups of acquisition channels that I mentioned above. Depending on your businesses goals, a few or all these traffic channels are important.

Most businesses use the “organic” channel to determine if their website is improving in SEO. They are right; if their search engine rankings improve, they will gradually start to see more organic traffic on their website.

However, you shouldn’t forget the other traffic channels. You can use the Email channel to see if your follow-up emails are performing well, or you can use the Social channel to see if your social media strategy is working.

If you are using tracking links, you can see how your marketing campaigns are performing by viewing the Other traffic channel.

Bottom line, all the traffic channels are useful in some way. If you are simply interested in SEO, track your incoming Organic traffic.

Tifiny Swedensky is the Marketing Director and data analysis expert at Great Legal Marketing.

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by Tifiny Swedensky

Tifiny Swedensky is the Marketing Director and data analysis expert at Great Legal Marketing.


  • Tifiny Swedensky is the Marketing Director and data analysis expert at Great Legal Marketing.