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Social Beats Search In Referral Traffic For Second Time This Year
It's a see-saw battle, but Shareaholic data shows social's share of referral traffic to publishers pushed past search in June and September.
There’s a chart at the top of BuzzFeed’s interesting new insights site that caught our eye. It shows the social media has surpassed search as the top driver of referral traffic to content on the web.
Of course, BuzzFeed would be pushing that narrative; the site famously ignores SEO optimization strategy and focuses on creating content for maximum share-ability. BuzzFeed’s internal data, in fact, shows social drives five times more traffic than search.
But are we approaching an overall social-over-search tipping point for publishers? We asked Shareaholic, the source of the data for the BuzzFeed chart, to share more details. And Shareaholic confirmed that the social has pulled ahead in a see-saw battle. Social passed search for the first time in June, 30.93% to 29.40%. Search jumped back into the lead in July and August, before a social rebound in September (29.35% to 29.14%).
So nearly a dead heat, but social clearly has the momentum if you look at Shareaholic’s figures for the last 13 months. Here’s a chart from Shareaholic (click to enlarge):
It should be noted that Shareaholic doesn’t disclose the raw numbers behind the percentages, so there’s no way to tell whether there has been a reduction in referrals from search, but Shareaholic’s Danny Wong said the data — drawn from 360,000 websites that use the Shareaholic platform and 420 million monthly unique visits — paints a clear picture of the trend.
“The figures simply reveal that social drives a larger relative percentage of visits to sites across the web,” Wong wrote in an email to Marketing Land. “In some ways, I’m certain social has stolen both ‘share of traffic’ and raw visits from search.
“Over the past 15 months, there have been a number of changes in web (and mobile) users’ behaviors, with respect to how they discover content and arrive at different sites across the web. The most interesting finding IMO is how quickly and dramatically the numbers have shifted to favor social. Looking at the figures from Sept 2013 and Sept 2014 (to analyze year-over-year trends), Social’s share nearly doubled (from 16.04% to 29.35%) while Search’s share shrunk by nearly one-third (from 42.77% to 29.14%).”