Social Media Drives Greater Site Engagement than Search Engines

Wondering why your visitors aren’t engaging with your site? It could have something to do with how they arrived. We analyzed seven B2B and B2C campaigns from the past three years in hopes of determining which referral type drives greater brand engagement: social media or search engine?

Across the campaigns, we compared the number of pages per visit, average visit duration, and bounce rates from those who came from social sources against those who came from search engine advertisements. We also indexed the referral types against total site traffic averages.

The results: social media sources handily outperformed search engines when it came to on-site engagement metrics. Not only did search engine traffic underperform compared to social media, it underperformed to nearly all other types of digital media.

Social Media vs. Search Engines Site Engagement Chart

This aligns with our findings that social traffic is contextual. Users are often already engaged in the subject when presented with a link and the opportunity to explore related content, leading to more meaningful and engaging visits. Whereas search engine traffic, by its very nature, runs on mathematical logic, usually without context. This leads to lower engagement and more bounces as users typically engage in multiple searches before finding exactly what they’re looking for.

Search engines are still great pure traffic drivers, and work well for many other KPIs; but if you’re looking to increase meaningful brand engagement, social media is the place to be.

3 thoughts on “Social Media Drives Greater Site Engagement than Search Engines

  1. Love this post.. It makes sense that social post bring a more engaged consumer. When your reading reviews or information in a social post its usually during the buying process. Search is still an early research tool.

  2. Great post… Is this study including search engine CPC advertising or is this solely relating to organic search engine traffic?

  3. @Leah:

    Thanks for the question. To clarify, we defined search engine referrals/traffic as CPC advertising exclusively, not organic traffic.

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