Digiday recently published some figures showing that Google Information continues to drive a lot more traffic to publisher’s websites than Facebook, or any other social network.
This is an eye opener considering how many businesses have shifted their focus to optimizing content for sharability on social media versus optimizing for search, following in the footsteps of publishers like Buzzfeed who have shown how effective that can be.
Germany’s biggest news publisher, Axel Springer, recently held an experiment where they kept Google from implementing excerpts of its content material within Google Information listings. They discovered this tanked their visitors, with organic visitors from Google losing 40%, and Google News traffic dropping 80%.
Sites like Buzzfeed are an exception, not the norm. Digiday reports that Google still sends 35% of a publisher’s total referral traffic, while Google News makes up 10% to 25% of a publisher’s total traffic.
So why are so many publishers optimizing for sharability rather than optimizing for search? One idea is usually that they’re not so much writing for shares, but writing for contemporary SEO practices.
Google encourages publishers to write in human-friendly language, which also goes hand in hand with writing the type of content people would want to share with others. If you write strictly for search, you’re no longer writing for people.
Even though publishers aren’t actively optimizing for search, much of their content still ends up in Google News or Google organic search. The traffic they are receiving from it versus interpersonal media referrals is impossible to ignore.
Do these findings coincide with what you have been noticing on your own site? Have you been receiving more traffic from social media lately, or from Google search and Google News?