While search remains a far bigger traffic driver than social media for publishers, the gap is closing, details Shareaholic in a new report covering 13 months of data across its network of more than 200,000 sites that reach more than 250 million unique monthly users. Whereas in November of last year, organic search traffic drove almost 4 times the share of visits to these publishers as social referrals (41.8% vs. 11.2%), social’s steady rise, coupled with a slight decline for organic search means that search drove only 70% more share of visits this past month than social (39.4% vs. 23.7%).
The data is based on traffic from the top 5 search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and AOL) and referrals from the top 5 social media sites (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Reddit).
The numbers are slightly deceiving in the sense that there was a spike in social’s share of visits in November 2013, jumping to 23.7% share from 18.3% share the month before. The bump is entirely attributable to Facebook, which referred 17.4% share of visits to publishers in November, up from 11.8% share the month before. Prior to November, organic search traffic had outweighed social referrals by at least a 2:1 ratio during each month of the study period.
It’s worth noting that while social is growing up as a traffic referrer to publishers, it’s still just a bit player in the e-commerce scene. According to Monetate’s latest report covering Q3 2013, search accounted for 31.2% share of e-commerce site visits, compared to 1.1% share for social.