Study: Links from other news sites matter more than social networks

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

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  • Web Traffic Report

    It’s interesting actually because links from social networks is good but i think i have to agree with what you said that links from other news site matter more..

  • Ted Rheingold

    Fair enough. Guess I’m just jaded ;)

  • Anonymous

    I see what you’re saying about the fact that Outbrain has a business relationship in the mix, Ted, but from what I can see it doesn’t pose a direct conflict of interest. That relationship is also what gives them access to the data, and the methodology they describe seems to not favor themselves in any way.

    That said, I do take any individual study with a grain of salt. It’s best that everyone look at their own site’s referral data, and look at all of the available research.

  • Ted Rheingold

    Sorry to be questioning, but should one be promoting these finding as they are produced by an organization that makes money directing traffic between online publishers?