The Guide to Tracking Dark Social - Carney
The Daily Carnage

The Guide to Tracking Dark Social

“…if you only knew the power of the dark side…”

Darth Vader might not have been talking about website traffic when he said that, but he might as well have been. You know how when you’re in Google Analytics (GA from here on out), there’s that big chunk of traffic that’s defined as “Direct”?

That’s known as dark traffic because Google can’t track where those people came from. We do know it’s likely traffic from one of four places:

  • People manually typing your URL (rare)
  • Visits from mobile apps (more common)
  • Visits from email forwards (also common)
  • Visits from chat platforms (increasingly more common)

When you unlock the power of dark traffic, it’ll help transform your marketing, and today’s Read is here to help.

  • First, start by segmenting out that direct traffic in GA. You’ll do that from the audience tab on your GA dashboard.
  • Next, remove all the easy to remember URLs from that segment. The reason behind that is that easy to remember URLs are more likely to be manually typed into a browser.
  • Okay, now what? Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets with past traffic. Moving forward, you need to make it easier to share your content with a tracking link.
  • To help this happen, make copying/pasting your links even easier by using a preloaded “copy” button. You’ve probably seen this from Bitly and similar tools.
  • Now, tag all of your links with UTM’s. These tags help you understand where your traffic is coming from. Use GA tools to create tracking tags.
  • Finally, use a social sharing tool, like, that allows you to control the link source and add the appropriate UTM codes prior for each.

Phew, there’s a lot to digest here. Read the full article to get it all.


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