The Top Sites Driving Referral Traffic, by Content Category

Google and Facebook dominate referral traffic to all types of online content but the proportion of visits driven by each varies significantly by topic, according to recent research from Parse.ly.

The report was based on an analysis conducted in April and May 2018 of 8 billion pageviews for 1 million articles on thousands of sites. The researchers used natural language processing to classify the content into 23 topic categories.

Some 75% of all external traffic to the content examined came from Google and Facebook.

Overall referral traffic has shifted somewhat from Facebook to Google over the past year, likely because of algorithm changes made by the social network.


Google was the primary external traffic driver to most of the content topics examined: 14 of the 23 categories analyzed received more than 40% of their external traffic from Google search.

Topics that include reviews (such as Technology and Computing) and how-tos (such as Home and Garden) tend to receive a higher share of traffic from Google:

Facebook tends to be a bigger traffic driver than Google to lifestyle content, the analysis found.

The Family and Parenting category receives the most external traffic from Facebook (70%).

Among other external traffic drivers, Pinterest has the biggest impact in the Home and Garden category and Twitter has the biggest impact in the News category:

About the research: The report was based on an analysis conducted in April and May 2018 of 8 billion pageviews for 1 million articles on thousands of sites. The researchers used natural language processing to classify the content into 23 topic categories.

Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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