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BizReport : Search Marketing : April 27, 2011

Search drives more engaged traffic than social

New research from content aggregation firm Outbrain reveals search engines drive higher volumes and more engaged traffic than social media.

by Helen Leggatt

outbrain.gifOutbrain's research revealed that in the first quarter of this year, Facebook, Twitter and smaller social outlets drove 11% of external referrals to Outbrain's test group of more than 100 publishers.

While that 11% share of external referrals is but a fraction of the 41% of traffic referred from search engines, the 31% from links at other publisher's sites and the 17% from portals like Yahoo, AOL and MSN, social media's growth into double digits is impressive considering how long most of the sites have been around.

Another finding from the research (.pdf) was that traffic from social media sources was far less engaged than that from search or content sites, and more likely to "bounce", or spend short periods of time browsing just one page before moving on.

By comparison, the time spent with content was higher for traffic referred by search and content sites, with more pages being trawled.

Outbrain dubs those that spend longer with content, reading five or more pages in one session, as "hyperengaged readers", and found social media referrals were less than half as likely to be hyperengaged as those from search or content sites.

Outbrain's results shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Social media is about instant gratification and people often arrive at content having been urged to view it by friends and family via statuses and Tweets. Search, on the other hand, is a purposeful task where content is actively being sought out and, therefore, engagement is likely to be deeper.

Tags: Internet traffic, reader engagement, referral traffic, search marketing, social marketing

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