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Is Organic Search Losing to Social Media Referrals?

At this point, Google probably isn’t freaking out, but they are paying close attention to some recent research by Shareaholic.  


Search’s heyday is over; it’s a mature channel.

Social Media has barely outgrown diapers; things are just getting started. 


As a social media specialist, this kind of information is extremely exciting. The simple fact that social media is showing referral growth while search traffic is becoming a bit stagnant gives Facebook Marketers hope that the internet will not always be ruled by Google Search. 

Google Search Decline

First, let’s take a look at the numbers. According to Shareaholic, organic search traffic has dropped a total of 6 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2013. Now, 6 percentage points in search is nothing to worry about, and has probably already been regained here in April. The point to recognize is the stagnation of organic search numbers over the past year. When taking the entire year into consideration, and viewing the chart below, notice how steady and inactive the green line appears. While organic search still holds a commanding 42% of the search market, it has not increased over the course of 12 months. This is a huge takeaway!  



The main reason is that many questions that users ask of search engines, their networks of friends, colleagues, peers, fans, and people they follow can answer better. If you’re in charge of figuring out where to spend you’re marketing dollars, your online budget should no longer just consist of SEO.


Social Media Referral Increase

Facebook’s referral traffic share grew from 15.44 percent to 21.25 percent, Pinterest was up from 4.79 percent to 7.10 percent, while Twitter moved from 1.12 percent to 1.14 percent. In other words, just like in the previous quarter, Facebook and Pinterest showed phenomenal growth given their positions, while Twitter remained essentially flat.



Here’s where the fun begins. Facebook and Pinterest are on the move, aggregating impressive referral numbers. Even as brands love to toss Facebook under the bus for its declining reach, Facebook still sends the most website referrals and has actually sent more over the past year then any other social media site.


Blog_Is Organic Search Losing

While brands enjoy hating on Facebook for limiting the reach of Pages and then forcing businesses to pay for ads, Facebook still continues to refer loads of traffic to websites when users share links they enjoy with all of their friends. Though, last month, Eat24 caused a ruckus because it initiated a ‘breakup’ with Facebook, brands will never be bold enough to actually prevent users from ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ things from their sites to Facebook. Eat24′s popular breakup letter received more than 26k Facebook likes and shares. While most brands may have lost faith in their Fan Pages, they know the world’s largest social network will still bless them with tons of organic traffic.


Most Engaged

It is interesting to note, that upon digging deeper into the statistics I found that although Facebook does send the most social referral traffic and is increasing that referral traffic percentage, it’s Youtube and Google+ that sends the most engaged traffic. This could be for many reasons, and should be analyzed in more depth. For example, YouTube might send the most engaged traffic simply because visitors are watching videos, thus spending more time on the site.  





E-Commerce Winner

It is also interesting to note that statistics vary based on e-commerce results. According to another recent study conducted by Shopify, Ployvore and Instagram account for the most sales through social media, at $66 and $65 average order value respectively.  


emarketer-social-commerce-shopifyI love statistics like the ones shown in this article, but the main detail that you, as a small business owner, should take away from these numbers is that there are many avenues to travel under the umbrella of social media marketing. Your brand,your audience and your goals will guide you to the perfect social media platform for your small business.

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 24 Posted 3 years ago Jay Kerr

    I think you meant to say "organic search traffic has dropped a total of 6 percentage points from November 2012 to November 2013".

    Interesting article. Thanks!

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