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Search Engines Once Again Send More Traffic Than Social Media, New Study Reports

For the first time in over 3 years Search Engines were once again the dominant referrer of website traffic in 2017, overtaking Social Media that held reign since 2014. This revelation comes through a recently released report from the folks at Shareaholic who track web visits.

Search Engine vs Social Media Traffic Report

Search Engine vs Social Media Traffic Report by Shareaholic

The report reveals that Search sent 34.8% of all site visits last year, while only 25.6% came from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others. With Search sending 36% more traffic than Social, this is a good sign of the value of search and owning your own content.

Google Continues to Rule Search

Another noteworthy piece in the report is the size of Share of Visits that Google has. It hit a high of 36.82% during the second half of 2017. While not surprising to us here at WebRanking, it is nice to see that the emphasis we place on Google Organic and AdWords paid search ads continues to to be as valid today as it was a year ago.

Share of Visits by Search Engine

Share of Visits by Search Engine by Shareaholic


Social Traffic Decline Lead by Facebook

While Social Media Referral traffic maybe down, all is not lost. The data shows that Social traffic’s biggest loss comes from Facebook. This is to be expected as FB’s organic algorithm has changed much in recent years to limit exposure to posts and pages containing links to external websites. This change has, not coincidentally, lead to an increase in Facebook advertising for businesses who wish to have their content circulated widely on the network. In all likely hood this a very strategic move on Facebook’s part. But hey, Facebook ads are a viable and important of content promotion efforts.

Share of Visits by Social Network

Share of Visits by Social Network by Shareaholic

Though Facebook may be down, the report details that Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn all had good growth in the past year. While we like Facebook for it’s great ad targeting features, we expect these other platforms are going to receive an increase in consideration and ad budget in the months to come.



  • Search remains a powerful driver in free organic traffic.
  • Continue to invest your marketing budget in Content and organic search engine optimization.
  • Social Media sites have a vested interest in keeping visitors on their platform and not your site.
  • Facebook organic reach has continued to decline, but their ad platform is a viable content marketing tool.
  • Pinterest is a worthy social network for generating traffic and promoting content.

You can read the report on Shareaholic.

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Reader Comments

  • Nick @ BrickMarketing | February 27, 2018

    This backs up what we’ve been saying for years: the most important place to be on the web is your own website because you have full control. Relying on a social media presence is risky because the social media site has all of the control.

    • James Svoboda | February 27, 2018

      We agree Nick! Being in SEO & Content marketing is a good place to be these days.

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