Pull up your top landing page content report and filter by direct traffic. Chances are you will see a long-tail of deep links into hundreds or thousands of pages. The Atlantic walks through how Chartbeat reports these visits for it’s real time analytics product:
And then one day, we had a meeting with the real-time web analytics firm, Chartbeat. Like many media nerds, I love Chartbeat. It lets you know exactly what’s happening with your stories, most especially where your readers are coming from. Recently, they made an accounting change that they showed to us. They took visitors who showed up without referrer data and split them into two categories. The first was people who were going to a homepage (theatlantic.com) or a subject landing page (theatlantic.com/politics). The second were people going to any other page, that is to say, all of our articles. These people, they figured, were following some sort of link because no one actually types “http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/atlast-the-gargantuan-telescope-designed-to-find-life-on-other-planets/263409/.” They started counting these people as what they call direct social.
Accounting change is an understatement—this was a light bulb moment for me that reconciles something I do every day (emailing links) with data I usually wrote off as odd. Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile explains the thought process in more depth on Quora.