By Adam Fraser
With an ongoing focus on shiny new toys and the “next big thing”, discussion on good old-fashioned search/SEO doesn’t seem to garner the share of voice and attention I always suspected it warranted within the marketing community.
Some new research from Shareaholic provides a fascinating and somewhat stark data point – Search has now overtaken Social (again) as the leading inbound traffic generator for websites.
The Shareaholic Traffic Report looks at externally referred traffic from 400+ million users to over 250,000 mobile and desktop sites. The data reveals “share of visits,” a percentage of overall traffic via direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, paid search, etc. The size of websites in the study varies from less than 1,000 monthly unique visitors to over one million.
Since 2014, Search had been behind Social in the share of visits but retook the lead in 2017, with the top 6 search engines driving 34.8% of site visits in 2017, compared to 25.6% from the top 13 social media sites.
Some key takeaways from the report were:
- The key driver of the declining social referral traffic was Facebook’s algorithm changes which led to a massive 12.7% decline in Facebook referral traffic from the same period a year ago.
- Users are spending less time on Facebook in general, and, when on there, more time on video and live streaming content which is less likely to link out to other pages.
- Within the overall decline of social referral traffic, Pinterest and Instagram increased their traffic generation, with Twitter and YouTube broadly flat (note search within Pinterest is becoming increasingly important).
- Google, in particular, benefited from the changes in social traffic; their dominant market share within search allowed them to reclaim their spot as the number 1 overall traffic referrer.
US thought leader Jay Baer wrote an interesting blog post on the four key reasons driving the decline in social referral traffic versus search, with the algorithm changes – particularly at Facebook – very much key.
This is an important data point and a reminder that Search should not be forgotten when assessing the marketing mix.