Traditionally, people who arrive to websites from a mobile device did so most frequently through the use of Facebook, making “mobile” and “social” go hand in hand. However, a recent study from Chartbeat.com found that direct traffic surpassed Facebook referrals for the first time, proving that a shift is happening among mobile users.
In the past, data showed that users who arrived directly to a website were most likely to be using a desktop, and those who were on a mobile device most often arrived at a website after seeing that brand’s content on Facebook. However, this new data shows that this is changing, with more mobile users coming directly to websites without the use of Facebook. Direct traffic has also not only surpassed Facebook referral traffic on mobile devices, but on all devices across the board.
In the beginning of 2018, Facebook made the announcement that it would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize friends and family posts over “public content.” This change in Facebook’s algorithm is at least part of the reason that Facebook referral traffic to publisher sites has dropped, but more factors could be at play, like the rise of Google Search referral traffic and the introduction of Google Chrome Suggestions.
Publishers are excited for this news, since they have long been at odds with Facebook and Google Search exceeding their direct traffic levels. Direct traffic allows publishers to receive more data on reader behavior which results in better targeting, and it also gives brands a better idea of the overall strength of their brand.
A key takeaway for marketers is that mobile search should continue to be a key strategy for the years to come. As more and more people lean towards using mobile over desktop for direct searches, devoting more attention to Facebook alternatives like Google Search, while still focusing on Facebook strategies, could be beneficial for brands.