Search Beats Social Media as Best Traffic for Content Sites

Apr 21, 2011 6:00 AM PST

NEW YORK — Search beats social media by more than 300 percent as the number one source of external traffic for entertainment and news content sites according to a recent study.

The Content Discovery and Engagement Report, Q1 2011 from Outbrain — makers of a publishing widget platform that’s used on sites such as USA Today, Slate, Newsweek and others — reported that it analyzed traffic from 100 million sessions in the first quarter of 2011.

The results showed that search drove 41 percent of external traffic. Content sites drove 31 percent of the traffic, portals 17 percent and social media lagged behind at only 11 percent but is growing.

Not surprisingly, Google was the primary source of referral traffic to the sites in Outbrain’s network, directing almost nine times more traffic than the average site referrer.

AOL’s homepage/portal surpassed Yahoo and Facebook to the number two spot. The Drudge Report, Bing, MSN, Twitter, Outbrain and respectively rounded out the top 10.

What was equally noteworthy was Outbrain’s findings that search traffic is also quality traffic and it provides longer reader engagement with the highest number of average page view per session.

The study also found that search traffic yielded lower “bounce rates” to other sites and provides higher page views with readers who tend to stay on a site longer.

In contrast, social media had the highest bounce rates.

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