Thursday, May 05, 2011

Some new insight into where traffic is coming from

Outbrain, an outfit that provides content recommendation and sponsored links on sites that install their widget, says it's gone through 100 million sessions representing 100 publishers that use its service to see how people are finding content.

Keeping in mind all studies like this are limited and not generalizable, it still offers some insight that can be added to the mix with others:

  • Interestingly, across the Outbrain sites, most traffic (67%) is coming from people typing the URL into their browser bar, bookmarks or the publisher's home page.
  • Of the remaining third:
    • 41% came from search
    • 31% came from another content site (linking, Outbrain referrals, etc.)
    • A portal (17%)
    • Social media (11%), though Outbrain says social media appears to be "gaining" share (not sure how the company concludes that, since this is supposed to be an inaugural study). Social media is not just Twitter and Facebook, but things like Digg, Fark and StumbleUpon.
  • Traffic from social media sites has the biggest bounce rate - in other words, they aren't sticking around to see what else you've got to offer.
Some other interesting observations:
  • The traffic from social sources is mostly to news, entertainment and lifestyle material, with news getting 42% of the referrals (makes eminent sense to me when you include Digg, etc., which tend to feature lots of news stories)
  • Readers going from one content site to another are more engaged (which makes sense, as the report observes, "presumably because they already are in content consumption mode")
  • Social media falls way below search and traffic from other content sites when looking at "hyper-engaged" users - those viewing five or more pages per session. Makes sense to me, especially the traffic from other content sites. In other words, if you aren't linking to other sites and getting them to link to you, you still don't really get it.
The top five sources of traffic: By far Google, followed by AOL, Yahoo, Facebook and Drudge.

There's a PDF of the report available too.

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