Search and direct mobile navigation surpass Facebook as traffic referrers

Chartbeat is reporting that direct mobile traffic and traffic from Google search have both surpassed referrals from Facebook on mobile devices. This is at least partly attributable to Facebook News Feed algorithm changes that happened late last year and continued early this year.

The change, in which Facebook prioritized friends and family posts over “public content,” resulted in traffic declines at many publisher sites that had been relying heavily on the social site for traffic. Chartbeat’s data shows that traffic to publisher sites and native apps has held steady. As Facebook referral traffic to publishers using Chartbeat has declined, direct traffic and referrals from Google Search have risen.

Chartbeat added that this shift was not just for mobile devices but across devices: “[D]irect traffic to mobile sites is not just surpassing mobile Facebook; it is surpassing ALL referrer traffic from Facebook across devices.”

While the algorithm changes at Facebook are at least partly responsible, there may be other factors showing up in the chart above. Chartbeat previously reported that Google Chrome Suggestions is seeing significant growth as a traffic referrer for publishers.

“Mobile direct traffic surpassing Facebook traffic to publisher sites is an important milestone. It means consumers may be more loyal to news sites than expected, and publishers may be in a better position vis-a-vis Facebook as well,” says Chartbeat.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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