Organic Search: Still King of the Hill in Generating Web Traffic

online searchingIn recent years, the focus on “content marketing” has become stronger than ever: the notion of attracting traffic via the inherent relevance of the content contained on a website rather than through other means.

It seems eminently logical.  But content marketing is also relatively labor-intensive to build and to maintain. So there’s always been an effort to drive web traffic through “quicker and easier” methods as well.

But the newest findings on web traffic really do demonstrate how fundamental good content is to meeting the challenge of generating web traffic.

An analysis by web analytics and measurement firm BrightEdge reveals that organic search (SEO) drives over half of all traffic to websites (both business-to-business and business-to-consumer).

By contrast, paid search (SEM) accounts for only one-fifth of SEO’s result, and social is lower still:

  • Organic search: Generates ~51% of all web traffic
  • Paid search: ~10%
  • Social media: ~5%
  • All other methods (e.g., display advertising, e-mail and referred): ~34%

Web traffic driversSource:  BrightEdge, 2014. 

In other words, all forms of advertising put together don’t drive as much traffic as organic search.

The BrightEdge statistics also remind us that social media, however popular it may be to millions of people, isn’t a highly effective traffic generator like search. Here are some of the key reasons why:

  • Social shares are fleeting and can get drowned out easily.
  • Most users don’t go on a social platform, only then to click on different links that take them away from social.
  • Not everyone uses social media, whereas everyone uses a search engine of some kind when they’re in “investigative” mode.

That’s the thing:  People use SEO when they’re seeking answers and solutions — often in the form of a product or a service.  Unlike in social or online display advertising, there’s no need to “disrupt” the user’s intended activity.

And if you’re in the B-to-B realm, organic search even more prevalent:  Organic search drives ~73% of all web traffic there.

Even consumer categories like retail, entertainment and hospitality find that organic search is responsible for attracting 40% or more of all web traffic.

The takeaway for companies is that any marketing strategy that doesn’t adopt “content development” as a core tactic instead of an “ornamentation” is probably destined to fall well-short of its full potential.

Facebook Continues on its Merry Way to Social Media (and Web?) Dominance

Here’s a very interesting finding ripped from today’s social media headlines: The Business Insider and other media outlets are reporting that Facebook now accounts for nearly one in four page views on the Internet in the United States.

So claims database marketing consulting firm Drake Direct, which has studied web traffic in the U.S. and the U.K. by analyzing data collected by Compete, a leading aggregator of web statistics.

Just to give you an idea of how significant Facebook’s results are: by comparison, search engine powerhouse Google accounts for only about one in twelve page views.

And Facebook is now closing in on Google when it comes to site visits – with each currently receiving around 2.5 billion visits per month. In fact, studying the trend lines, Drake Direct anticipates that Facebook site visits will surpass Google any time now.

Another interesting finding is that the length of the average Facebook visit now surpasses that of YouTube (~16 minutes versus ~14 minutes per visit), whereas YouTube had charted longer visits prior to now.

These findings underscore the continued success of Facebook as the most successful social media site, even as it has grown to 350+ million users, including more than 100 million in the U.S. with 5 million added in January alone. No doubt, it’s on a roll.