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Report: social traffic down while search drives 34.8 percent of traffic

by on 22nd February 2018

According to a report published by Shareaholic, a platform specializing in content discovery and promotion tools and services, Google has reclaimed top spot as the primary source of referral traffic for its sample of 250,000 websites.

Shareaholic’s latest analysis has identified a marked change in the performance of search relative to social media, with the latter having outperformed the former for the last 4 years.

The report claims that social traffic now accounts for 25.6 percent of all visits while search traffic accounts for 34.8 percent. The report attributes changes to Facebook’s news feed for the decrease in referral traffic driven by social media websites.

Google is primarily responsible for the increase in search traffic and accounts for 36.82 percent of total traffic referred to Shareaholic’s sample of websites for the second half of 2017. Meanwhile, Facebook is the predominant referrer among social websites and accounts for 18.16 percent of all referrals.

Facebook’s contribution to total referral traffic was 30.93 percent in the second half of 2016 and 27.11 percent in the first half of 2017.

Interestingly, the report has also identified a marked increase in total referral traffic from Pinterest, which has increased from 6.08 percent in the first half of 2017 to 7.53 percent in the second half of 2017.

Meanwhile, the report highlights that the third biggest social referrer, Instagram, only contributed 0.73 percent of total referral traffic in the second half of 2017.

It’s difficult to read too much into this data without further detail about the type of sites which make up the sample. Shareaholic states the websites it analyses come from a “diversity of categories” including “food, tech, design, fashion and beauty, marketing, sports, parenting, religion, general news and many more.”

It doesn’t provide any information on the number of websites from each particular category.

A quick glance at SimilarWeb data for the most visited websites in the U.S. — based on Alexa’s top 100 report and excluding search engines and social websites referred to in Shareaholic’s report — shows that social contributes anywhere between 1 and 6 percent of total traffic across a number of sectors (which contrasts with Shareaholic’s stated average of 25.6 percent)

Social contribution of top 10 most visited websites not in Shareaholic’s report (SimilarWeb):

  • Amazon: 4.94 percent
  • Wikipedia: 1.63 percent
  • eBay: 3.30 percent
  • Netflix: 1.13 percent
  • tv: 11 percent
  • Imgur: 53.61 percent
  • com: 2.76 percent
  • com: 87.63 percent
  • Craigslist: 2.45 percent
  • com: 5.44 percent

From SimilarWeb’s data it’s possible to conclude that publishers promoting fresh content and relying on advertising for monetization are far more successful on social media websites than websites selling products or services.

A study conducted by Wolfgang Digital in 2016 found Google organic search contributes 43 percent of all e-commerce traffic while Facebook organic contributes 3% of all e-commerce traffic.

The report also found that Google organic search contributes 41 percent of all e-commerce sales while Facebook organic contributes 2 percent. Wolfgang’s study analysed 87 million sessions and focused exclusively on e-commerce websites.

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