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More direct traffic in sources report than expected

Last updated: January 10, 2024

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If you've noticed more direct traffic in the sources report than expected, understand how HubSpot categorizes traffic as direct traffic and check the other reasons why this may have caused more direct traffic than expected against your own experience.

Criteria for traffic data to be categorized as Direct Traffic

HubSpot will categorize visits and contacts as Direct Traffic if any of the following criterion are true:

  • Referral URL:
    • The referring URL of a visit is an identified mail domain or RSS reader.
    • The referring URL of a visit is empty because a visitor typed your website URL into their browser directly or the referring information is otherwise lost. 
    • The referring domain has SSL (https://), but your domain does not. In this case, the referrer is dropped and this traffic will be categorized as Direct Traffic.
  • Form submission:
    • A contact submitted a HubSpot form on a page without the HubSpot tracking code. The system recognizes that the form submission came from a website visit, but will not be able to categorize it without the tracking code on the page.
    • There is no user token being passed through the form submission. This can occur when using the Forms API or if cookie tracking has been disabled on the form.
    • The visitor who submitted the form has opted to not accept cookies from your site or ignored the banner completely. They must click Accept.

Possible reasons why direct traffic may be higher than expected

  • Cookies are not being used on your site. Learn how to enable cookies on your site by ensuring the Use cookies switch is toggled on.
  • Filtered IP addresses were removed or changed. If an internal IP address is unblocked, direct traffic can increase.
  • Changes in cross-domain linking could cause an increase in direct traffic. For example, if you remove a domain from your site tracking settings, HubSpot won't have the same ability to categorize consecutive sessions between your tracked domains.
  • Source tracking in HubSpot emails may be disabled. If Add source tracking tags to all URLs is not selected, tracking parameters will not be added to links in HubSpot marketing emails and all visits from these emails will be bucketed as Direct Traffic.
  • Emails were sent from a non-HubSpot email service that does not include tracking on links clicked in the email. Without any source tracking parameters, visits from these emails are bucketed as Direct Traffic.
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