Posted August 27, 2014 5:18 pm by with 2 comments

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BrightEdge sent over a new report called “Cracking the Content Code” and since I’m all about content, I had to share it with you.

To come up with the numbers, BrightEdge tapped into their giant Data Cube repository which contains information about billions of pieces of content from all over the web. Sounds like a machine that could take over the world. Luckily it’s on our side. . . for now.

The Data Cube sliced and diced to find out which was the most effective driver of traffic; organic search, paid, display /email or social. Want to guess which one came out on top? If you paid attention to the title of this post then you already know but I’ll make a dramatic reveal anyway.


Brightedge Content TrafficOrganic Search takes it! When you combine all of the industries, Organic Search is responsible for sending 51% of the traffic to company websites.

The next best bet was Display, Email and Referred. Paid Search only accounted for 10% of the total traffic which is surprising given the amount of money people spend on search marketing. The only two industries that seem to benefit at all from Paid Search are Retail and Hospitality.

What’s worse than the traffic from paid search? The traffic from social media. We may not be spending a lot of money on social but we sure spend a lot of time and that green bar is barely visible on this chart. Technology gets a little boost, same with Business Services but that’s it.

This report doesn’t say you should stop using social media but it might be time for a balance check. If more than half of your traffic is coming in via organic search you should spend more time posting articles on your website than posting fun photos on Facebook. Instead of pouring more money into Paid Search, maybe that money should go toward SEO or website fixes.

What worries me most about social media is how we’ve come to depend on it as a repository for information. It’s easy to post photos from the new product launch on Facebook but those same photos should be on your website. Facebook might not be around forever, not in the form it is now, anyway. If you find that hard to believe, think about all the people who lost photos and posts when MySpace did a pivot.

Posting photos and video on your own blog will also increase search rank and improve your click-through rate. BrightEdge says that rich media posts elicit 13% more clicks than plain text posts.

The takeaway here is simply this: don’t keep doing what you’re doing just because it’s what you’ve always done. Look at the numbers. Really look at what’s working for you. If Facebook isn’t driving traffic to your site, stop spending so much time updating your page. Spend that time creating informative and entertaining content that your customers will want to watch, read and share.

  • “We may not be spending a lot of money on social but we sure spend a lot
    of time and that green bar is barely visible on this chart.”

    I think it really depends on the site. I recently bought a side business and social is the overwhelming driver of traffic. Google organic is about 30%, up from 10% 6 months ago, which is great, but Facebook is by far and large the biggest source of traffic.

  • andrewbirmingham2010

    Actually there is a really important stat missing from the chart and that is the number of people who go directly to a site without using organic or paid search or any other type of content or advertising. In other words, people who are loyal to the brand and simply choose to type the address in the tool bar. I suspect this might be the majority for many sites and certainly in markets like media tech etc…