Different people get to different websites in different ways. Some go the old school route by typing in an address, while others enter Google search terms to find the content they want. Then there’s how social media drives news and pulls in readers, and other methods as well.
But if a Pew Research Center study — conducted in conjunction with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes the arts, quality journalism and more — is any indication, people who visit websites directly by typing in addresses are more likely to be active and engaged while on those sites compared to non-direct visitors. It’s not even close, either.
The study found that on average, direct visitors spent 4 minutes, 36 seconds on a site. By comparison, visitors who arrived via Facebook spent only 1 minute, 41 seconds on a site, with search-based visitors only sticking around for a second longer. The study concluded that direct visitors also view more pages: 24.8 per visitor to be exact, compared with 4.2 for visitors from Facebook and 4.9 for those who find pages through search engines.
Visits per visitors are also much higher from direct users (10.9) compared with Facebook (2.9) and search (3.1) visitors.
These trends aren’t specific to one type of site or another, regardless of how highly they rank on social networks. Whether you’re talking about sites with high Facebook shares like breitbart.com, or sites that gets lots of traffic from search like abcnews.go.com, the comScore data analyzed in the study indicated that direct visitors were significantly more engaged.
If there’s one takeaway you should get from this data, it’s this: Building a loyal audience through search and social is much easier said than done.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.