May 7, 2014

The latest report by analytics firm indicates large news sites see a greater percentage of visitors return within 30 days than small news sites do.

That finding runs counter to the company’s internal hypothesis that niche sites would have higher return rates, the company said in an email. Sites with more than 10 million monthly visitors saw a 16 percent return rate, while sites with fewer than 1 million monthly visitors saw a 9 percent return rate.

The company’s March sample included 500 million visitors and over 2 billion page views. Across’s entire network, an average of 11 percent of visitors returned to a site within 30 days.

Last month, Poynter wrote about Chartbeat and New York magazine’s effort to track what converts one-time visitors into loyal, returning readers.

Social vs. search also released its latest figures for referral sources. In March, search accounted for 32.8 percent of referrals, edging past social, which accounted for 31.2 percent.

I’ve written about how these figures help debunk the notion — advocated at times by BuzzFeed and the Atlantic — that search has been killed by Facebook.

Facebook’s share of referrals remained steady between January and March, according to, at about 26 percent. Last October, though, Facebook accounted for just 16 percent of referrals to sites tracked by Google remains the single largest source of referral traffic.

Related: Why NY Mag and Chartbeat tracked what turns first-time visitors into loyal readers | Facebook vs. Google, social media vs. SEO: Why BuzzFeed data shouldn’t declare a winner

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor,…
Sam Kirkland

More News

Back to News