BrightEdge study claims organic search is the most effective method of driving website referrals

If you want to drive more traffic to your business’ website, what’s the most effective way of doing it? Should you go down the paid search route, or should you rely instead on the tried and trusted organic search method? Well, according to a recent study by BrightEdge, as reported by eMarketer, organic search is the way to go. Paid search may have its admirers in certain industries, but for overall effectiveness across all industry sectors, organic search performs best.

The research found that when it comes to driving internet users to a business website, organic search is the clear leader. BrightEdge found that in a sample taken between June and July, 2014, organic search drove over half of all internet traffic (51 per cent). Display, email and referred search ranked second with 34 percent of referrals, paid search came in third with just 10 per cent, whilst social media came in last generating just 5 per cent of all referrals. How scientific was this study? Well, although it can only claim to offer a limited snapshot of internet activity during a relatively short period, it has been generally welcomed by the advertising industry and accepted to be accurate. It should be noted though that as the study was monitored by BrightEdge’s Data Cube, broader industry metrics may vary.

In terms of website traffic referral share, the study found that results varied by industry. Business services dominated, generating 73 per cent of all site referrals. For media and entertainment, technology, internet, and hospitality sites organic search’s share of traffic referrals was 50 per cent. In retail however, organic search only generated 42 per cent of traffic referrals. Perversely, although social media performed relatively poorly in the overall rankings, it did perform rather better in the media and entertainment space, as did display, email and referred sources. Paid search proved to be the most successful at driving website traffic in the retail industry.

In terms of website revenues, organic search also topped the list

With the exception of media and entertainment. For that sector display, email and referred sources produced the best results, garnering a 45 per cent share: organic search for that sector generated a 41 per cent share. Once again organic search proved to best at generating the most referrals for the business services sector, generating 55 per cent of all website revenues in the space.

Paid search proved to be the most lucrative in the hospitality industry, generating 27 per cent of website income. However, social barely played a role anywhere. In terms of the hospitality, media and entertainment and retail industries, social media only generated a mere 1 per cent of website revenues. In business services and the technology and internet sectors, social media didn’t manage to generate any revenue at all.

View our portfolio


Speak to us