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Sudden change in ratio Organic/Direct Traffic?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi everyone,


I noticed a sudden drop in organic traffic matched by an equal increase of direct traffic on 3 december 2015 (in Google Analytics), and I can't figure out what caused it.


We published a mobile version of the site on that day. It is dynamically served (so the URLs are the same in mobile and desktop) using this method:


After some digging, I found that this shift only affected New Visitors on Desktop and using Chrome. The shift has affected all pages.



This person seems to have had the exact same problem:!topic/webmasters/FJMXv3N2PR8;context-place=topicsearchin/we...


I looked into everything that was suggested to him, and came to pretty much the same conclusions:


Is it mobile traffic? --> no, desktop only mostly on Chrome

Is it specific pages that lost traffic? --> no, all pages are affected

Is it a specific region? --> no, all countries show a shift of traffic

Is it a specific Hostname? --> no, nothing strange here

Was the lost/extra traffic based on periodic drops/bursts? --> not that I can tell. It's the first time I see something like this

Organic and AdWords mixup? --> paid search is also affected by the shift, but it's mostly organic

Email campaigns not properly set up --> no, our emailing is normal


The only difference is he finally solved it by creating a new unfiltered view. My view is already unfiltered and I still have that unexplained shift of organic trafic to direct.


Can anyone recommend a solution please ?

Re: Sudden change in ratio Organic/Direct Traffic?

Explorer ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Explorer ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Aislinn,

The first thing I would do is wait, you have likely discovered a new OS clash that is messing up the HTTP referrer info.

Many times over the past few years organic traffic is lost to direct traffic due to browers and browser versions (particularly mobile) not reading the HTTP referrer headers properly. Sometimes Google fixes this loss of data quickly however it is hard to tell exactly how much data is lost from organic and other channels to direct. So wait a couple days and see if it resolves itself, if it does then Google has patched it, if it does not then we can look at other reasons.
Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author Aislinn Mc
January 2016

Re: Sudden change in ratio Organic/Direct Traffic?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hey Bryan,

Thanks a lot for your insight. However I think I have found the source of the problem: a script that includes a javascript reload of the page. The traffic has shifted back after removing that script!

Re: Sudden change in ratio Organic/Direct Traffic?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
I'm suddenly having the opposite effect. my Organic has shot up; the Direct has reduced to half what it used to be.