NEW YORK: The topic of an article has significant impact on where readers find it, as new research shows lifestyle and entertainment stories see the majority of traffic coming from Facebook, while Google searches drive the majority of tech, sports, and business stories.This is according to findings from Parse.ly, the digital audience engagement firm, which studied referrals to over 10m articles from the firm’s corpus in 2016. The research broke down both referral sources as well as device traffic breakdown.
Of the topics studied, a number favoured one platform overwhelmingly over the other.
For instance, lifestyle articles got more than 87% of external traffic through Facebook and just 7% from Google searches; in addition, the majority (63%) of that traffic came through a mobile device.
Similarly, entertainment articles received 60% of external traffic through the social network, also with a skew toward mobile consumption (56%).
Elsewhere, Facebook drove 59% of traffic to both education/research stories and coverage of US presidential politics.
Conversely, job postings were extremely reliant on Google, with 84.4% of external referrals going through the search engine. However, there were significantly fewer job postings than other category articles within the corpus of 10m.
Elsewhere, technology stories received 61% of traffic from Google searches, slightly more than sports (50%) and business/finance stories (47%).
A deeper dive into the data showed that Twitter has a notable presence when it comes to sports stories, accounting for 10.6% of referrals – out of a diverse 'other' section that made up 30% of the total.
"Understanding differences in referral data per topic has practical implications," the report said.
Knowing ahead of time how an audience is likely to find your story can help you shape everything from editorial calendars to design.
Having these references can help publishers make informed decisions about where to promote specific articles and increase the diversity of traffic sources to their content," the report concluded.
Across the full swath of articles studied, Facebook referrals drove 39% of external traffic in 2016, while Google drove 35%. However, the report made clear that Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) publishing format for mobile is not currently measured in Google search traffic.
Data sourced from Parse.ly; additional content by WARC staff