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The Battle Between Search and Social

For years, search engines have been the primary way for consumers to find new businesses. Now, though, you can make a strong case that social media gains more than search engines in the amount of site traffic and referrals it brings. Many publishers are reporting that referral traffic through social media is continuously rising, while referral traffic from search engines may be slowing down. 

This may come as a surprise to many people, especially those who have been involved in search engine optimization campaigns in an effort to boost their site’s rankings in the search results. No matter what kind of business you’re in, though, you can’t deny that social media is becoming increasingly more popular with customers of all ages. Having a presence on several social sites is definitely not optional if you want to attract new customers. Here are some of the facts in the battle between social and search.
Reasons Social Traffic is Rising
Mobile Traffic
Web browsing on mobile devices is becoming more and more popular. When people are on their iPhones, they’re much more likely to browse social media than look up information in a search engine. According to Adobe, 71% of Americans use mobile devices to access social media, meaning it’s one of the most popular mobile activities. That makes it likely that the more popular mobile devices become, the more important gaining social media referrals will be. 
Social Industries
Some industries report that nearly all of their referral traffic comes from social media, while others say the vast majority comes from search engines. News or entertainment websites may be much more likely to receive referrals from social media than from search engines. Sites like BuzzFeed will almost certainly receive more traffic from social media. After all, how often do you type things like “bunny GIFs” or “which Divergent faction are you?” into Google?
Recommendations and Product Research
Another great thing about social media is that you can access real product reviews from real people. A real, unbiased review can be invaluable when you’re trying to decide if you should buy something. Friends can also suggest that you like or follow a certain business’s page, which is great because personal endorsements carry a lot of weight.
Tailored Advertising 
To get more mileage out of social media campaigns, many businesses host ads on networks like Facebook. You can target your ad to the individuals who would most likely be interested in your product, based on their social media profiles. This will make it more likely for viewers to click on the ad. You can also pay for your page or post to be sponsored, meaning it will show up in more peoples’ news feeds, especially if their profiles are a strong match for your product.
Reasons Search is Still Important
Search Still Outpaces Social 
While businesses may get more traffic from social media, online searches are still the biggest source of traffic for most websites. According to a report done by Shareaholic, search engines bring in 41% of all new traffic to websites, while social media brings in around 15%. Think about it—wouldn’t you be more likely to use a search engine if you needed to find a business right away? Say you wanted to find a company with the latest in construction technology; you could just type a few words into Google and come up with a few good matches. It’s much harder to search for new businesses on social media, because that’s just not what the sites were designed to do.
Google Adwords and Google Trends 
Google Adwords is a very helpful advertising tool for businesses. Adwords allows you to buy pay-per-click ads, so your site will show up at the top of the search results when a user searches for one of your keywords. Granted, Google will indicate it’s a sponsored link but this is a great way to gain exposure and referral traffic.
Also, even though you should always strive to write the most organic copy possible, using the right keywords is still important. Google Trends is a very helpful tool for keywords. It lets you see which words related to your industry are rising in popularity. You can use this information to optimize copy for search engines. 
Evergreen Content 
While social media is great for spreading viral content, evergreen content may receive more traffic via search engines. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, evergreen content is content that is always relevant. Articles on how to take care of your skin or ways to cut grocery bills are evergreen because they will still be pertinent for years to come. Chances are, you won’t look for this kind of content on social media. Most people rely on search engines if they need quick advice on how to do something.
Regardless of the fact that social media referrals are on the rise, you need to pay attention to both search and social to get the most out of your Internet marketing campaign. You’ll bring in the most traffic to your website by using search engine optimization and social media strategies.
Published: April 18, 2014

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Savannah Marie

Savannah Marie is a blogger and editor of her blog, Mixios. She is passionate about online marketing, business, social media and public relations. When she isn’t focused on the newest trending topic, she is writing, baking, reading and enjoying life! 

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