Search for Quality Traffic

Stephen Yagielowicz

While much has been made about the number of people using social networks today, with traffic hungry mainstream and adult website operators sitting up to take close notice, research is showing that most visitors from social media sources tend to be “low quality,” from a traffic monetization perspective — at least when compared to the visitors referred by content-centric websites, such as news sites.

For example, a recent report by Outbrain on Content Discovery and Engagement, underscores the traffic-building value of original, high quality content, as opposed to the more socially oriented traffic building strategies.

Link building, while it may be less important for SERP ranking as the years go by, is still a core element in building the volume and type of traffic you want.

Looking at 160 million user sessions across 150 of its client’s websites with the intent of studying behavioral differences among visitors from various referral sources, Outbrain discovered that although search engines continue to account for a significant volume of visitors to content pages (representing more than 40 per cent of external referrers); social media referrals are gaining ground, providing more than 14 percent of external referrers.

These sources lag behind the 46 percent of referrals gained from other content sites.

When examining specific social media sites, Facebook comes on top; referring more traffic and providing a more diverse audience to content pages than Twitter. However, it was also discovered that traffic from social media sites have the highest bounce rates — as if the social referral led to a brief “check it out,” rather than “explore this more fully.”

This is where the value of content site referrals comes in, as these visitors tend to be more engaged; demonstrating lower bounce rates — and importantly, more page views. This “stickiness” allows a publisher to better monetize ad space and advertisers to enjoy more opportunities to make a sale.

“This certainly doesn’t mean social efforts should be abandoned. It does mean, however, that webmasters should focus on building valuable links on reputable sites,” Rob D. Young wrote for Search Engine Watch. “Link building, while it may be less important for SERP ranking as the years go by, is still a core element in building the volume and type of traffic you want.”

As for the best traffic source, it should come as no surprise that Google ranks number one for content pages, despite its ongoing decline: down more than five percent this year.

“It’s an exciting time in the content discovery space as larger trends in web usage play out in the ways which readers access and engage with content,” Kelly Reeves of Outbrain stated. “Though traditional methods like search still reign supreme, we’re keeping a close eye on new trends such as social sharing and the increasing openness of content sites to link freely to one another.”

‘From a publisher standpoint, it’s particularly important to recognize and understand these shifts in order to identify the best way to get your content in front of readers,” Reeves added.

Other findings note that North American users are least likely to rely on search, preferring content site links; while European and South American users are most likely to be referred by social media.

Savvy adult marketers will look at this data and tailor their landing pages accordingly.