In an article on Search Engine Journal this week Matt Southern reported, using data from a company called Shareaholic, that traffic originating from social networks made up nearly a third of all traffic arriving on the world’s websites.
These figures are obviously going to be averaged out across all types of site; there are some websites out there that are unlikely to gain a huge amount of social media traffic while, on the other hand, we now have sites that cater solely for social media. A recent look towards my Facebook stream shows plenty of videos and images coming off sites whose sole purpose is to produce content to be shared, and perhaps these figures are somewhat skewed by these.
In total, in December 2014 top 8 social networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to web sites. These networks include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Having said that, this is an upward trend so what we can with social media in an attempt to capitalise on that available traffic? That’s an interesting question in itself – is Search Engine traffic about to be seen as “the traditional way” of gaining worldwide internet attention? Is SEO going to compete with SMO (Social Media Optimisation – yes, it already exists!)? After all search engines such as Google can’t apply more authority to one tweet or Facebook post than another; both originate from the same domain, a traditional ranking factor, and despite knowing a lot about individuals it’s a very complex operation to rate one account holder as a higher authority than someone else on any given subject – and that’s just on the same platform. How do you rank someone’s images, telling a thousand words, on Pinterest compared to another person’s 140 character missive on what they’ve just seen walk past their house?
Perhaps, though, Google has already seen this change to internet traffic on the horizon. One thing that Google’s moved towards in recent times, with their Penguin and Panda updates, is weight applied to quality content. This becomes the big crossover from SEO and SMO – quality content will attract both Search Engines and Social Media (human) traffic. It’s not the be-all and end-all to Google heaping algorithmic praise on a site, though that’s never been the case anyway – there have always been a huge amount of factors – but in moving in this direction perhaps Google have seen to close a gap before it becomes a threat.
Now all that’s left to do is for someone to figure out the difference between great content and an intriguing title!