The largest share by far of website visits come from organic search.

Enterprise level SEO company Conductor recently conducted a study of 30 large websites across six industries to evaluate the sources of their inbound web traffic over a one-year period. They analyzed over 310 million visits and found that, overall, organic search was responsible for just about half of all visits.

Traffic sources

The sources of traffic break down into six categories:

  • Organic search — the main, natural search engine results, as distinct from PPC (pay per click) ads
  • Direct visits — where visitors typed in the website domain address in the address bar of their browsers
  • Referral visits — where visitors followed links from other websites
  • Paid search — from PPC ads in the search engine
  • Social media visits — from posts in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Website traffic source distribution

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Organic search – 47%
  • Direct visits – 29%
  • Referral visits – 15%
  • Paid search (PPC) visits – 6%
  • Social media visits – 2%
[Click on the image to the right for a larger version]


There are a few factors to consider when considering what this means for your business.
1 – These are large company websites. For smaller companies the proportion of social media visits is likely to be larger, but is highly dependent on how active a given company is in social media.
2 – Organic searches done on mobile devices running iOS6 and higher and Android 4 and higher could not be captured. If they had been included, the organic search share would almost certainly have been greater than 50%.
3 – There were some quite significant differences by industry so the overall proportions may well be different for your business. See the report by Conductor for an industry breakdown.

How does traffic to your site compare with this? Let us know in the comments below.

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