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BrightEdge-Leading-Traffic-Referral-Sources-Sept2014Organic search is the primary driver of website traffic, says BrightEdge [download page], on the basis of a foray into its Data Cube repository, “which analyzes billions of pieces of content from across the web.” Across all industries analyzed during June and July of this year, organic search drove 51% of all visitors, far ahead of paid search (10%), social (5%) and the combination of all other (such as display, email, and referred). In fact, organic search’s influence is greatest in the business services sector.

The study shows that almost three-quarters – 73% – of global traffic to business services companies came from organic search, with media and entertainment next at 51%, right on average. Of the 5 industries spotlighted out in the report – retail, media and entertainment, business services, technology / internet and hospitality – retail showed the lowest incidence of organic search-referred traffic but the highest of paid search-referred visitors. That tracks with recent MarketLive research, which has found paid search to be a growing source of visitors and revenues for online merchants.

Paid search’s value isn’t apparent just in the retail sector, though: its share of revenues is in fact higher than its traffic share across each of the 5 industries spotlighted by BrightEdge. That was particularly the case for business services, where paid search represented 17% of revenues as opposed to 4% of traffic, and media and entertainment, where it comprised 13% of revenues despite referring just 2% of traffic.

Meanwhile, the report indicates that rich media delivers traffic, with images and videos generally having a higher click-through rate on desktops than classic written content.

Overall, the high share of web traffic attributed to organic search is in conflict with recent data from Shareaholic, which finds a vastly greater share of web traffic coming from social. Methodological differences are most likely to blame, as Shareaholic’s sample (while now covering a number of categories) grew from content publishers such as blogs and covers US traffic, while the BrightEdge data is global.

A Forrester Research study released last year found that online adults in the US are more likely to discover websites via organic search engine results than through any other means.

About the Data: The BrightEdge data was gathered from 8,500+ global brands who use the Data Cube. The data is not just from the US market but represents all markets globally, and the content analyzed was all pages, images, videos and rich media in our Data Cube. The data was synthesized and presented via BrightEdge’s Page Reporting Module, which allows users to further drill into business units and page categories to truly understand content performance by traffic, conversions and revenue.

The data is from June and July 2014.

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