Passed links vs. search..which gets more traffic? The answer might surprise you!

Fred Wilson had an interesting post this week about traffic, social nets and Google. The basic question was this: Has the time come where suggesting a link to your friends in a social network or a blog (Facebook, MySpace, Linked in, etc) actually registers more traffic to that particular page rather than a google search would? Are visits from Facebook greater than visits from Google overall? Is the ‘social ‘ discovery of links and pages on the web more powerful than simple searches? It seems that depending where you are and what you are pointing people to, traffic flows differently. If its on a content site (games, etc) those links and suggestions result in about 25% more traffic than those sites and links having nothing to do with content (i.e. B2B sites). So, if you’ve got good content, it wants to be shared by all.eyeball-blue

They ‘tracked the passing-along of links pointing to two campaigns running concurrently for the same product (different micro-sites).  One of them had a good offer but so-so content while the other campaign had great (funny) content with no offer.  The % of unique visitors generated by the pass-along of links to the good offer was under 10%  while the traffic from the pass-along of the links to the good content was over 40%.  The campaign with good content also got significantly more traffic overall.  What data like this suggests is that the prediction you make in your deck about dollars shifting from media to content is a really good one in my opinion.  As marketers compete for the attention and interest of their audience, the best way to do this is through content that’s delivered to them via their social graph.  This already happens if the content’s good.  There just isn’t enough of it.’

Over the course of the last 6 months or so I realize that I’m getting more and more information from my friends, IM, twitter, email, RSS, and Facebook than I am from searches. And the way I search and what I search for has changed. I’ve gotten most of the links for content from my friends through one messaging tool or another. Yes, I got the link for the workprint of ‘X-Men Origins’ just about the same time I read the story about it. And I never searched for it – it came via a socially passed links. And more to the point, when I looked specifically on google for that link, I had a tough time finding it.


Overall, The most popular mode of sharing  is email (25% of visits from passed links come from links shared through email), followed by blogs (18% of visits from passed links come from links shared through blogs), video sharing sites (14% of visits from passed links come from links shared through video sharing sites like YouTube), and forums/message boards (11% of visits from passed links come from links shared through forums and message boards).  Social networks account for around 9% of the traffic from shared links. These stats are courtesy of Meteor Solution (