Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SEO News: Pinterest Refers 5X More Traffic than Twitter

A few weeks ago Shareaholic released a "quarterly report" (for Q3 of 2014) detailing how much traffic the eight largest social media sites drive to other sites. I happened to discover the report in my research for a previous blog about the diversity of SEO content. I was not surprised to see that Facebook drives the most traffic--and, at 22% of all traffic, by a large margin. I was surprised, however, to see that Pinterest is Facebook's closest contender.

If someone had asked me before I read the report, "Who is second behind Facebook?" I honestly would've answered, "Twitter." I would've been wrong, of course--but more wrong than I would've imagined.

Among the eight largest social media sites, Twitter ranks close to StumbleUpon in referrals. StumbleUpon? Yes. In fact, despite its apparent influence, Twitter is a relatively insular site, driving less than one percent of the"big eight" referrals.

Of the eight top social media sites, Facebook and Pinterest have seen up and down referral percentages, but Twitter's referrals have been declining steadily...

News of Twitter's decline has been in the air at least since this summer, when its positive quarterly earnings report was belied by its drop in monthly active users. As Digiday reported in late July:

"Twitter’s growth rate may have exceeded Wall Street’s expectations on Tuesday, but its year-to-year growth in monthly active users continued to decline, from 25 percent in the first quarter to 24 percent in the second quarter...With this trend expected to continue, eMarketer predicts Twitter’s user growth will continue to plateau through 2018 in all regions worldwide..."

More recently, NPR's Marketplace has asked, "How long does Twitter have to not become Myspace?"

For an avid Twitter user, this possibility feels impossible, but who knows: I was also an avid Myspace user! The upshot for the SEO savvy business owner? Twitter is not the best place to drive traffic. Facebook is, of course, the best. But just as surprising (to me, at least) as Twitter's relative lack of referral power is the notable influence of Pinterest, which drives about 5X as much traffic as Twitter and really all the other social media sites combined.

This is a visual representation of Facebook's absolute dominance, yes, but it's also a telling indication of the influence of Pinterest.

Perhaps this is why Pinterest believes it can evolve into a personalized search engine. As Search Engine Land reported yesterday:

"Much more than a 'scrap-booking' site (its origins) or even a product discovery or shopping site, Pinterest sees itself now as a kind of personalized search site that can blend search and discovery in new and compelling ways...Pinterest thinks it can do a better job meeting certain kinds of needs and answering user questions than a traditional search engine (read: Google)."

Search Engine Land included a nifty graphic from Pinterest, too--a graphic that suggests that Pinterest can yield results that surpass even traditional search engines:


Note how Pinterest believes it can offer valuable content to both the "general" and "specific" browser. The "specific" browser is the domain of Google, but Pinterest hopes to break ground by inspiring the "general" browser with beautifully illustrated pictures, photos, etc.  

So, as always, we ask our SEO-centric question: What does this mean for you, the website owner, who is striving to optimize your website naturally. First, if you're spending time on Twitter to the detriment of Pinterest (or worse, Facebook), you might want to reconsider your strategy. But more to the point: Pinterest is decidedly different than both Facebook and Twitter. While the latter sites are heavy on the written word, Pinterest is all about imagery. 

This is good for image-centric sites. If you already have a host of high-quality and unique images, we suggest trying your hand at Pinterest now. As we wrote in our post about the diversity of SEO content:

"Play to your strengths. If you create lovely images, then by all means you should be populating your site with images. The key to proper use of these 'alternative' forms of content is proper optimization. If used correctly, all types of content can contribute to a positive ranking."

The lesson here, however, is that you shouldn't limit your images simply to populating your site--populate Pinterest, too, and see if you can utilize the site's increasing influence to drive more traffic to your site.

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