Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic: Which Is Better For Bloggers?

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At ShoutMeLoud, we always look to answer the big questions. One question that has been plaguing me for a long time is:

  • What is the right marketing channel for my blog?

Is social the right way? Or is it search? Where should most of my marketing efforts go?

As I researched the best marketing channels, I realized that “blogs” are different businesses that have different clients. Some blogs are technical and specific, and others are generic and informational. There is no one single solution for all blogs.

Is It Better To Get Social Traffic Or Search Traffic?

In this article, I will give examples of different kinds of blogs and the channels that are most effective for them. And a little later in the article, I’ll explore why certain channels work well for some, but not for others.

Let’s begin…

Backlinko – SEO Blog

Backlinko is the popular SEO blog on the internet. Brian Dean (the owner of Backlinko) doesn’t even write that many articles. He focuses on a few pieces, but he pushes that content considerably. Understandably, search engines offer him the highest amount of traffic for Backlinko.

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And rightfully so. A blog about SEO should have a lot of search traffic.

It’s actually pretty awesome that he gets 4% of his traffic from social media because you wouldn’t expect technical SEO content to do well on social media at all. My guess is most of this traffic comes from Twitter as there are a lot of marketers on there tweeting and retweeting SEO hacks.

The two other numbers that stand out are direct traffic (34%) and email traffic (7%).

That amount of direct traffic suggests Backlinko is a great brand. And that high of email traffic suggests that every time he sends out an email, he’s making his subscribers excited about his high-quality content.

Backlinko
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Backlinko’s email traffic is some of the best out there.

Wait But Why – Long-Form Content Blog

Wait But Why is an interesting blog with a rabid fan base. Their content focuses on the millennial, hipster, and geeky crowd, and the things they are interested in.

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The way they write their content is casual and free-flowing. It has cute pieces of art and graphics that act as breakers while reading. They focus on long-form content and their fans excitedly wait for their next piece to be published.

Clearly, Wait But Why gets a lot of social traffic. It is exactly the kind of blog you would expect to do well on social media.

And again, with 34% direct traffic, it’s a great brand.

Wait But Why
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With such high social traffic, the opportunities for going viral are high for Wait But Why.

Jon Loomer – Facebook Advertising Blog

Although Jon Loomer’s blog is about Facebook advertising, he still gets more traffic from search engines than social media.

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While his content is targeted at advanced Facebook marketers, you shouldn’t necessarily expect his posts to get a lot of social media love.

Jon Loomer has gotten 9% of his total traffic from social media, which is likely Facebook because his followers receive his Facebook ads, and then they visit his website.

But just because you talk about Facebook, doesn’t mean you will do well on Facebook.

Jon Loomer
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Jon’s Facebook blog doesn’t need Facebook traffic to survive.

Business Insider – Business Blog

Business Insider has a lot of original content and also the latest news.

If you look at their traffic estimates, they get a lot of traffic through social media, and this is because of their posts about current events.

Here’s a tip: If there’s one quick way to get a lot of traffic from social media, it’s to cover the latest news in your field.

And unlike some of the others, even though Business Insider is a popular brand, their direct traffic is poor.

Business Insider
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Two types of content help bring traffic from two different sources.

What do these stats represent?

In summary, Backlinko, Wait But Why, and Jon Loomer all have excellent direct traffic numbers. This is because of the brands they’ve built. It means people are eagerly waiting for new content from these blogs and they visit them directly.

If you look at Business Insider’s direct traffic, it’s nowhere close to their social traffic. So even though Business Insider is a huge brand name, people either find their content through search engines or they find them on their social media feed.

The fact of the matter is, your direct, search, and social traffic all depend on your content. No medium is superior, and the traffic from these channels vary based on what kind of articles you are publishing.

You need to write:

  • How To’s
  • Tips
  • Specific Niche Content
  • etc.

Shout Me Loud is a perfect example of a blog that is built for search traffic.

  • If you want to do well on social media, you’ll need content that is appealing enough, so that people can “discover” them.

You need to write about:

  • Trending News
  • Funny Memes
  • Popular Culture
  • etc.

9gag’s content is an example of taking the latest news and adding a funny twist to it (which does really well on social media).

  • If you want traffic to come to you directly, you need to be an authority, you need to be original, and you need to be the only one producing that kind of content.

Wait But Why is a perfect example of this.

Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic- What is best for you?

I hope you get an idea of why certain blogs do better with search traffic and why some do better with social traffic. It’s all about the reader’s relationship to the kind of content you create.

It’s not impossible to market serious content on Facebook, but it is a lot more difficult than via searches. The best explanation about I’ve read about promoting your serious content on Facebook is:

Facebook is like a party. People are there together, having fun and laughing, and when you enter this party and are selling your ebook on how to get more traffic to your site, you will not have any takers.

So recognize who your content caters to and understand how they will want to learn about your content. Then you can build your marketing approach to cater to that idea.

Which kind of traffic do you do best with: Search or social? Let me know where most of your traffic comes from and if you think you’re targeting the right audience on the right platform. I’ll see you in the comments section!

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Authored By
Hey Shouters! I'm Kishen and I'm a serial Entrepreneur and Author. I've written multiple books on Marketing and Growth and have helped startups grow their business! You can connect with me on Linkedin!

77 thoughts on “Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic: Which Is Better For Bloggers?”

  1. sweety

    thanks sir
    i was always wanted to know the difference between social and search traffic ,after seening this article i got it

  2. Swayam Prakash

    Should we care if we have the ratio of 4:1 between referral and organic traffic?

  3. john

    i think search traffic is better then social traffic . because search depend on search query which person search by. and its give a good result

  4. Kingsley Peace

    Great content here! It’s very insightful. I mean, surely, no one can succeed in selling to the wrong audience –

    “Facebook is like a party. People are there together, having fun and laughing, and when you enter this party and are selling your ebook on how to get more traffic to your site, you will not have any takers.”

    Thanks for sharing. Success to You!! 🙂

  5. Ata Rehman

    I came here from youtube as someone was referring toward your article, I read all and now I know this is seriously going to help me alot. Keep it up brother.

  6. Aditya

    @KISHENSREEHARI

    Its totally true, the type of dominating effective traffic totally depends on the niche of the blog and its content too. it’s a bitter truth that niches like technology,blogging and innovations does’t do good in social media.
    but contents on news and viral content gets an extraordinary traffic and response from social media.
    Search traffic will be the best for internet marketers as they will be getting highly targeted users from search engines result than that of social media .
    Thanks for this case study on Search Traffic V/s Social Traffic .

    Best Regards
    Aditya Vikram

    1. Kishensreehari

      Technology news about interesting new products or happenings do really well on Social Media. Check out Science Alert on Facebook

  7. Jayant Gosain

    Hey Kishen
    That was actually fun to read those numbers but along with that, it was an informative post. There are a lot of pages on FB that are driving traffic only from Facebook and believe me or not the traffic is in million. I saw Google Analytics Real Time audience of one of those pages and I was stunned to see that.
    But driving traffic from FB is not that easy. It takes a lot of time to build authority as well as you need a creative team for graphic and to write catchy headlines.
    Anything becomes easy when it gets done.
    Thanks for sharing the post. That was a good read.

    1. Kishensreehari

      Thanks, Jayant. You are right about it not being easy. It’s the consistency without seeing results which bogs down most people. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Alena Sham

    Very nice info graphic, Kishen, and article that covers a lot of good ground. I agree with most of your points except when you mention that SEO results once achieved, can last for months. This is the mistake many clients make – they see it as a one-time investment and they’re done. But in any reasonably competitive search space, once you stop doing SEO, your rankings will start declining, simply because your competitors will overtake you – because they haven’t stopped investing in SEO. Overall I think SMM and SEO work very well together, and in all the ways you’ve described very well, and you absolutely need to do both.

  9. vishnu

    Great article about social traffic vs search traffic. I always wanted to know the difference between them and now I got know about his. Thanks you

  10. Pratik

    Nice article sir! what do you think about gaming blog? Is single handed social marketing good for them?

    1. Kishensreehari

      I think gaming is a great niche for social. Especially latest gaming news, gaming tips and strategies. Gamers belong to a very passionate community. And talking about gaming on social media is cool. It will work well on social

  11. Jayden White

    Yes, there is no doubt that your search, and social traffic all depend on your content. I believe, both ways are best for get huge amount of traffic. Thanks for sharing useful information.

  12. Derek

    From my experience I’d have to say both are important as I can see the effects of both from 1 of my blogs. It’s not so easy with social media but it involves work on our part though.

    Awesome blog post.

    1. Kishensreehari

      Agreed. Thanks for the comment Derek!

  13. Rabby

    Thanks a lot for your informative article. I think now we all are more clear about the differences between them.

  14. Rick

    In the old days (circa 2005) I depended almost entirely on search engine traffic and I was riding high. My website was averaging around 30,000 unique visitors per day and my Adsense earnings were in the 5 digits month-in and month-out.

    But then the cold, hard reality of the search engine environment ecosystem me when I woke up one morning to see that my site’s traffic had been cut by over 80% with a corresponding drop in Adsense earnings.

    I learned a very valuable lesson that morning: It’s unwise to put all of your eggs into one basket.

    Nowadays my blog traffic is a mixture of search engine traffic and clicks from social media, with a few other sources thrown in for a bit of extra diversification.

    This is a great article – very informative!

    1. Kishensreehari

      Agreed! If you are lucky enough to get traffic from both channels, then you’ll need to go all guns blazing!

  15. Susan Velez

    Hi Kishensreehari,

    While I’ve always focused on organic traffic in the past, I am starting to realize the power of social media. Right now my blog gets mostly social traffic.

    However, some of my blog posts that I write several months ago are finally starting to get organic traffic.

    I really don’t put my focus on just one form. It would be great if my traffic can eventually come from both social media and organic. After all, having traffic coming from multiple sources is great.

    You never want to have traffic coming from just one source. If something happens and traffic dries up from that one source, then you’ve basically lost your business overnight.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, have a great day.

    Susan

    1. Kishensreehari

      Hey Susan.

      It’s the balance everybody is striving for. I see a lot of sites that can have impressive social presence but focus on boring topics that piques nobody’s interest! Thanks for your comment

  16. Ritesh

    Yes, a lot depends on niche you choose. For some, social traffic works great because they write posts that touches users’ lives. So you will see more traffic coming from social media for such websites. While websites that get search traffic are different. Their niche is more likely to be searched than shared on social networks. Its more personal and one would not like to share them on social networks. So it works like that.

  17. Devender

    Initially I totally depended on FB to get traffic to my blog(about90.com). Later I’m getting more traffic the social media network. For me search traffic is better.

  18. Nayab Khan

    It’s good to see that they are generating so much of social and organic search traffic. But one thing that i have noticed is they are also getting huge amount of referral traffic. Considering the amount of traffic they get those 5-10% traffic makes up for a lot more than what one can expect.
    Referral traffic is highly targeted traffic since that user is already been pitched with some good content on the other site. So unknowingly this makes that user more vulnerable to click on a call to action, that may be a subscription to a newsletter or buying something from you.
    So those 5-10% have a better chance of conversion than the rest of the traffic.
    It might seem less in the traffic bar graph but i am sure if drawn on the value of traffic it’s height can match-up or even surpass to those direct, organic and social traffic bar.

    1. Kishensreehari

      You are absolutely right and something that I haven’t covered in detail in this post. Referral traffic is a godsend.

  19. Jon

    Well I’m just starting out with both myself. To be honest, I’m struggling with coming up with the ideal content strategy (I’m a freelancer). Right now I’ve decided to go with some more serious and technical blogs to attract clients directly along with some more share-worthy content that I’ll try and promote on social media. It will be interesting to see which works best.

    1. Kishensreehari

      I’m interested to know how you are doing! Please keep us posted

  20. Sourav Bawali

    Hey Kishensreehari,
    Thank you for such beautiful article. I was not aware of the importance of Social Media traffic. Just read your article & understood it

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