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Pinterest A Bit Player In Referral Traffic, Unless You're In Retail

Based on traffic trends for more than 200,000 publishers, Pinterest referral traffic showed "explosive growth" in June, beating out Twitter, StumbleUpon, Bing and Google referral traffic. That according to content measurement provider Shareaholic.

The company pays close attention to all social media, but in January observed that Pinterest sent more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. In February, Pinterest overtook Twitter for share of traffic. Shareaholic's Janet Aaronica dismissed the idea that Pinterest gained that traffic through sheer novelty, which would quickly die off (what Aaronica calls the "pretty new girl" effect).

It is important to note that Pinterest beats Google in referral traffic, not from organic search or AdwWords. Referrals may come from, for example, Google Groups, base.google.com, or static pages on related Google sites—all of which add up to a minor 1.09% of all traffic sources in June, compared to Pinterest's 1.19% by Shareaholic’s measure. Google’s organic search trounced all with 46.8% of share, followed by direct sources at 19.57%, and Facebook at 5.65%. Twitter (for all the noise) took just 0.92% of traffic in June.

As TechCrunch observes, content creators cannot ignore Pinterest for SEO, but “it’s not a replacement for keyword building by any means”—not when Google organic traffic counts for nearly half of referrals. Pinterest has an estimated 20 million users.

Yeah, But What About Ecommerce Referrals?

Of course Google organic search trumps Pinterest in referral, but so what. Removing Google completely from the picture, how do the social media stack up against one another in driving ecommerce?Among social networks driving referral traffic to ecommerce sites, Pinterest is second only to Facebook, according to June findings by Monetate (in a report it subtitled "How Facebook Is Losing The Retail War"). Facebook accounts for almost 60% of visits to retail sites from all social media, but Pinterest skyrocketed from driving 0.68% of that traffic in Q1 2011 to 26% in Q1 2012. And while Facebook is a celebration of “friends,” Pinterest is more a celebration of stuff, hence all those Pinterest pages devoted to a user's favorite brands and "cute summer T's."

Facebook enjoyed 88% of that traffic in Q1 2011: So Facebook lost 28 points, most of which it appears to have surrendered to Pinterest. So as a piece of all referral traffic, Pinterest with its 1.19% share looks like a loser. But, clearly, it isn't.

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