Understanding Google Analytics Channels Simplified 101

Syeda Famita Amber • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

FI Understanding Google Analytics Channels Simplified

The greatest perks of Digital Marketing is to have information about customers and to know where it comes from. The Digital Marketing Tools let you know about every single step of the journey of your visitor who lands on your website.

Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most powerful and widely used tools in Digital Marketing. Google Analytics Channels categorize your website’s traffic through its built-in Channels on the basis of the paths taken by visitors to reach your website. These Channels tell you how people get to know about your website and how they reached there, helping you to know whether your content is really catching the visitors and your efforts are paying off or not.

In this article, you will be introduced to Google Analytics Channels. You will learn about the working behind the GA channels. You will also explore the various default Google Analytics Channels. So, read along to gain insights and understand the Google Analytics Channels.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Google Analytics Channels

Google Analytics Channels
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Google Analytics Channels are basically the groups of various traffic sources including search engines like “Google”, Domain Name, and Mediums that are the more general sources, such as Organic and Referral for the Organic and Web Referral traffic respectively.

Google Analytics Channels not only assist you to keep track of your traffic but also to determine where your desired visitors are mostly coming from. These specific records and results in turn can help you to advance your efforts in those specific areas.

However, appropriate Tagging of your links is critical in the Google Analytics Channels. If you do not Tag your site links properly, all these efficient categorizing mechanisms will be of no use. Let’s say you share your site link on Social Media Posts and Email Newsletter without UTM tags, the traffic through these links would be considered Organic Traffic. This in turn can greatly distract you from the potential traffic sources of your website. Therefore, whenever you use these Channels for analyzing the traffic of your site, make sure that you have attributed them to the correct category by embedding the exact Tags.

To learn more about Google Analytics Channels, visit here.

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Working of Google Analytics Channels

Google Analytics Channels basically track the traffic of your website from where it is coming from, these sources may include a Website, an Android Application, or simply a URL written in the search bar.

Along with the sources, Google Analytics Channels keep records of the mediums your Site Traffic is using to reach the destinations. Mediums for your Site Traffic can be platforms like Social Media, Email, a Banner, or Paid Search. This record would help you to rightly invest your content in the places where it is really paying off.

You can find these Google Analytics channels under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels as shown below.

Working of Google Analytics Channels
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Default Google Analytics Channels

Google Analytics Channels will give you a comprehensive overview of mediums and sources that bring traffic to your site. Following are the default Google Analytics Channels groups:

1) Organic Search Channels

Organic Search Channels
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This Channel refers to all the traffic on your site by the users who clicked on the organic listings provided in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). You can improve the Organic Traffic of your website by improving the SEO of your website to get more Organic visibility in search engines like Google and Bing that in turn will help you to grab more Organic Traffic for your website.

Improving your keyword strategy can significantly increase the traffic on your site. This you can do by knowing the keywords used by visitors when they clicked on your listing. You can find these keywords by using Google Search Console.

2) Direct Channels

Direct Channels
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Direct Google Analytics Channels tracks all the traffic that directly comes to your website. The Direct Channel keeps a record of the visitors who directly typed your URL to reach your website. It also shows you the visitors who visited your site using an existing bookmark.

This channel also keeps records of the direct visits through Direct Links, which have not been shared through any campaign tag but are still clicked on. These links are often shared through Text Messages, Personal Email, and Business Communication Platforms.

Direct Channels also have a record of traffic that has no medium and is difficult to identify as it is coming from a direct source.

3) Referral Channels

Referrals Channels
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This Channel tracks the traffic coming from sites other than Social Media and the sites not even present on Search Engines. To understand this let us consider a case where a visitor using a cooking website finds the link of your site and visits your site through that link, then this visit will be a part of the Referral Channel.

You can significantly increase your site traffic by placing Referral Links of your website on websites with good Domain Authorities and significant traffic. Another great way to increase your off-site links is by running effective digital PR campaigns.

These campaigns would also help you to generate more Organic Traffic as gaining links will improve your Domain Authority that in turn will raise your ranks in SERPs in places that have higher click-through rates.

4) Social Channels

Social Channel
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Social Channels keep a record of the traffic coming to your site through Social Media platforms. The channel may contain the following traffic sources in the Social Google Analytics Channel:

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

To make sure that the traffic is correctly assigned to Social Media websites, you can use UTM links that would help you to track clicks and visits on the link from a specific Social Media post or any digital campaign. You can also offer automated Social Media sharing tools on your website.

5) Email Channels

Email Channels
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Email Channel keeps a record of the traffic coming from links clicked in Email messages. These Email messages can be a part of your Email Marketing messages or personal Email messages. This traffic can be determined by the medium of Email.

Email traffic can only be measured with UTM tagging in place and any untagged link in Emails will be assigned to the Direct Channel.

6) Paid Search Channels

Paid Search Channels
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Paid Search Channels will keep a record of the traffic coming from Paid Search Ads and Paid Search Campaigns. This channel will help you to analyze where you should invest your money to increase your traffic.

You can analyze the results of your Paid Search Campaigns through Paid Search Channels to make a wiser investment in the next Campaign.

This Channel contains traffic mostly from Ads running on search engines including Google, Bingo, AOL, and Ask.com

To properly categorize the traffic coming from Paid Search Campaigns it is necessary to tag the links properly so that they can be attributed properly and categorized accurately.

7) Affiliates Channels

Affiliate Channels
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Affiliate Channels track the traffic coming from the Affiliate Marketing Campaigns. The traffic basically comes from a third-party website or individual who has agreed to drive traffic to your site in exchange for a certain amount of money. Affiliate Marketers can be paid using different payment models including pay per conversion. This Marketing method is one of the most mutually benefitting methods as it ensures return on investment.

Like all other links, these links should also be appropriately tagged so that there are no inconveniences in making payments for each click and to have a record of the traffic in Google Analytics.

8) Display Channels

Display Channels
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The Display Channel has the record of the visitors who come to your website by clicking on Display Ads containing links to your site.

These Display Ads are mostly banner-style advertisements that can be displayed and run across a number of websites.

The Display Channel enables the sales team to observe the impact of all the display activity on your site traffic at a single spot. The traffic through display advertisements can be from a variety of sources because of the Ad Campaigns running on a number of websites. That’s why Display Channels are used to combine all the information of the traffic by displaying advertisements in one place.

Advantages of Google Analytics Channels

After understanding the various Google Analytics Channels, let us discuss some of the benefits of GA Channels.

  • The reports generated by default Google Analytics Channels are helpful to provide a beneficial basic categorization of the traffic coming to your website.
  • These Channels also help your Digital Marketing team to determine the best Marketing strategy by providing a performance comparison of multiple Marketing types.
  • The variety of Analytics Channels will help you to decide in which Campaigns you should invest your resources and how can you optimize your results against that investment. Moreover, the channels will also enable you to figure out the areas which did not bring traffic to your site.


In this article, you learned about Google Analytics Channels and it’s different types. You also understood the working and benefits of Google Analytics Channels.


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Share your experience of understanding Google Analytics Channels in the comments section below!

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