A new study of Web referrals to online publishers shows links from other content sites are more important than those from social media.

Links from content sites (including other news publishers or aggregators) drive 56 percent of referrals to news websites, says the second quarter Content Discovery Report from Outbrain. Those visitors referred through content are also more deeply engaged -- measured by lower bounce rates and higher than average pageviews -- than visitors who arrive at a website through search or social streams.

The data comes from publishers who work with Outbrain to provide recommended links to their readers. They include The New York Times Media Group, The Atlantic, MSNBC, The New York Post, AllThingsD and Mashable.

Other findings of note:

  • Search engines send 37 percent of referrals and social networks only 7 percent.
  • Google's share of overall referrals dropped 5.5 percent, from 37.7 percent in the first quarter to 32.2 percent in the second quarter.
  • Breaking down social network referrals, Twitter drives more traffic overall than Facebook to news sites studied. Twitter drove about 75 percent of social network traffic to news content, specifically, with Facebook driving the rest.

2011 Q2 Outbrain Content Discovery Report