Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic: Which Is Better For Bloggers?

Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic

At ShoutMeLoud, we always look to answer the big questions. One question that has been plaguing me for a long time is:

  • What is the right marketing channel for my blog?

Is social the right way? Or is it search? Where should most of my marketing efforts go?

As I researched the best marketing channels, I realized that “blogs” are different businesses that have different clients. Some blogs are technical and specific, and others are generic and informational. There is no one single solution for all blogs.

Is It Better To Get Social Traffic Or Search Traffic?

In this article, I will give examples of different kinds of blogs and the channels that are most effective for them. And a little later in the article, I’ll explore why certain channels work well for some, but not for others.

Let’s begin…

Backlinko – SEO Blog

Backlinko is the popular SEO blog on the internet. Brian Dean (the owner of Backlinko) doesn’t even write that many articles. He focuses on a few pieces, but he pushes that content considerably. Understandably, search engines offer him the highest amount of traffic for Backlinko.

And rightfully so. A blog about SEO should have a lot of search traffic.

It’s actually pretty awesome that he gets 4% of his traffic from social media because you wouldn’t expect technical SEO content to do well on social media at all. My guess is most of this traffic comes from Twitter as there are a lot of marketers on there tweeting and retweeting SEO hacks.

The two other numbers that stand out are direct traffic (34%) and email traffic (7%).

That amount of direct traffic suggests Backlinko is a great brand. And that high of email traffic suggests that every time he sends out an email, he’s making his subscribers excited about his high-quality content.


Backlinko’s email traffic is some of the best out there.

Wait But Why – Long-Form Content Blog

Wait But Why is an interesting blog with a rabid fan base. Their content focuses on the millennial, hipster, and geeky crowd, and the things they are interested in.

The way they write their content is casual and free-flowing. It has cute pieces of art and graphics that act as breakers while reading. They focus on long-form content and their fans excitedly wait for their next piece to be published.

Clearly, Wait But Why gets a lot of social traffic. It is exactly the kind of blog you would expect to do well on social media.

And again, with 34% direct traffic, it’s a great brand.

Wait But Why

With such high social traffic, the opportunities for going viral are high for Wait But Why.

Jon Loomer – Facebook Advertising Blog

Although Jon Loomer’s blog is about Facebook advertising, he still gets more traffic from search engines than social media.

While his content is targeted at advanced Facebook marketers, you shouldn’t necessarily expect his posts to get a lot of social media love.

Jon Loomer has gotten 9% of his total traffic from social media, which is likely Facebook because his followers receive his Facebook ads, and then they visit his website.

But just because you talk about Facebook, doesn’t mean you will do well on Facebook.

Jon Loomer

Jon’s Facebook blog doesn’t need Facebook traffic to survive.

Business Insider – Business Blog

Business Insider has a lot of original content and also the latest news.

If you look at their traffic estimates, they get a lot of traffic through social media, and this is because of their posts about current events.

Here’s a tip: If there’s one quick way to get a lot of traffic from social media, it’s to cover the latest news in your field.

And unlike some of the others, even though Business Insider is a popular brand, their direct traffic is poor.

Business Insider

Two types of content help bring traffic from two different sources.

What do these stats represent?

In summary, Backlinko, Wait But Why, and Jon Loomer all have excellent direct traffic numbers. This is because of the brands they’ve built. It means people are eagerly waiting for new content from these blogs and they visit them directly.

If you look at Business Insider’s direct traffic, it’s nowhere close to their social traffic. So even though Business Insider is a huge brand name, people either find their content through search engines or they find them on their social media feed.

The fact of the matter is, your direct, search, and social traffic all depend on your content. No medium is superior, and the traffic from these channels vary based on what kind of articles you are publishing.

You need to write:

  • How To’s
  • Tips
  • Specific Niche Content
  • etc.

Shout Me Loud is a perfect example of a blog that is built for search traffic.

  • If you want to do well on social media, you’ll need content that is appealing enough, so that people can “discover” them.

You need to write about:

  • Trending News
  • Funny Memes
  • Popular Culture
  • etc.

9gag’s content is an example of taking the latest news and adding a funny twist to it (which does really well on social media).

  • If you want traffic to come to you directly, you need to be an authority, you need to be original, and you need to be the only one producing that kind of content.

Wait But Why is a perfect example of this.

Social Traffic vs. Search Traffic- What is best for you?

I hope you get an idea of why certain blogs do better with search traffic and why some do better with social traffic. It’s all about the reader’s relationship to the kind of content you create.

It’s not impossible to market serious content on Facebook, but it is a lot more difficult than via searches. The best explanation about I’ve read about promoting your serious content on Facebook is:

Facebook is like a party. People are there together, having fun and laughing, and when you enter this party and are selling your ebook on how to get more traffic to your site, you will not have any takers.

So recognize who your content caters to and understand how they will want to learn about your content. Then you can build your marketing approach to cater to that idea.

Which kind of traffic do you do best with: Search or social? Let me know where most of your traffic comes from and if you think you’re targeting the right audience on the right platform. I’ll see you in the comments section!

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