Increasing website traffic is an indirect sign of growth of any online company or brand. Referral traffic is most valued as it sends interested readers and qualified potential customers to your site and helps in boosting SEO ranking. Therefore, conversion rate in referral traffic is higher than direct and search generated traffic. Social media sites play a massive role in driving referral traffic to a website and social marketers must make an intelligent move to ensure the highest ROI to their client in form of referral traffic.
According to a report released by Shareholic, based on data collected from 200,000 publishers with more than 250 Million unique monthly visitors, Pinterest out-casted rest of social media sites with 66.52% increase in generating traffic for websites over a year. However, with 10.37% share, social media titan Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) maintains its top spot by sending the maximum number of visitors to websites in September 2013. Facebook , Micro-bogging specialist Twitter and image-network Pinterest collectively accounted for 15.22% of overall referral traffic in September 2013. In last one year share of each of them in traffic referrals increased by more than 50%; Facebook grew by 58.1%, Twitter by 54.12% and Pinterest by 66.52%. Pinterest scaled up its referral traffic growth due to introduction of ”Promoted pins”, which blends in seamlessly with rest of pins and encourage users to follow the brand. The similar magic was created by “Promoted posts” and “Promoted Tweets” that resulted in growth of referral traffic share for Facebook and Twitter.
YouTube, 2nd largest search engine after Google Inc. (GOOG), increased its share in referral traffic by 52.86% between Sept’12-Sept’13. With increasing demand for video content, YouTube is likely to scale up its share further in driving traffic to websites. Professional network LinkedIn also registered positive growth of 34.71% in Referral traffic share. Influencers program, “LinkedIn Today” has attracted many users and thereby indirectly contributed to increase in referral growth rate.
Unlike Social networking sites, social bookmarking sites seem to loosing traction; StumbleUpon, Once a leader of referral traffic that enables users to browse interesting content, declined in its growth rate by 27.47% in last 1 year. Its recent acquisition of “5by”- a video network start-up – hasn’t helped it much to improve referral traffic growth index. However, with most of information seekers shifting towards video contents, StumbleUpon is apparently to grow in referral rates in future. The faith was no different for another social bookmarking player Reddit that too faced declination in growth rate of referral traffic by 35.16%. Although Reddit has rolled out few changes in its interface and it attracts 4.6 Billion page views, 70 million unique visitors every month, progress in Referral traffic growth rate is disappointing.
Google Plus – a social media arm of Search giant, was surprisingly failed to secure a position amongts leading sources for referral traffic; People are finding it no charm in discussing and debating the same activities and topics on two networks, which is causing low-engagement and referral traffic for Google+. The very discouraging performance is also keeping brands away from Google+. In spite of its strong efforts to emphasis importance of building an audience on Google Plus platform (answers questions and creates video content via hangouts) to increase search rankings, its share in referral traffic was disappointing (under 7%).