One of the best ways to improve your page authority is to keep people on your site for longer periods of time.

If people stay longer on your site, that signals to Google that you have relevant and quality content. The longer people stay, the more likely they are to explore your other content and to become leads or customers.

Getting referral traffic is key to getting those people to your site, whether it is through links on external sites or posts on social media. CodeFuel conducted research recently (published in an ebook) showing how people engage on sites when they arrive through social media or other content sites. Here’s what we discovered:

Traffic Movement

People who come to your site from the home are more likely to stay longer than those who arrive at a specific page through social media, our research shows.

Social Media VS Content Websites

When people reach your content through your home page, 58 percent of them are likely to stay on the site, while 42 percent of them are likely to leave. In contrast, only 49 percent are likely to stay on the site when they arrive through social media, and 51 percent are likely to leave.

You can likely see this trend in your own browsing behavior. When you click through on a link from social media, you are likely browsing your news feed and are just interested in reading the article that caught your attention. You usually aren’t in an exploratory mood where you then want to find out what else that website has to offer.

The exception is when you are blown away by the article and think “Where has this site been all my life?” and want to find more.

Specifically, our research found that 26 percent of people return to the home page when they are done reading an article they discovered through the home page. About 22 percent left the website, 19 percent read articles on other topics, and 17 percent read articles on the same topics. Another 16 percent read articles suggested by content recommendation tools.

When arriving at an article via social media, 47 percent left the website when done reading it, while 19 percent read articles on other topics, 18 percent read articles on the same topics, and 17 percent read suggested content.

What this can tell you for your own marketing purposes is that you need to focus on getting more links on other content sites rather than social media, and that you need to make all your content more impressive to encourage people to stay and explore. You can also use content recommendation tools to get more people to explore your other content.

Content Discovery

Some people get to your home page through a link on another site, while some people get there through a Google search.

Our research found that 35 percent of people are discovering content through a Google search, while 26 percent are discovering it through the site’s home page (which can also be discovered through a Google search). We found that 20 percent arrive by clicking on recommending content, 12 percent use a website search box, and only 7 percent use social media or other content discovery tools.

The majority of people get to that home page through a Google search (36 percent) or through a favorite website (26 percent).

Those who are the biggest online users favor content websites the most over social media sites.

Marketing Strategy

What does this all mean for your marketing strategy?

Should you abandon social media entirely when marketing your content?

No, not entirely.

What this data shows us is that when you want to get people to stay on your site and to discover more of your content, you need to focus more of your efforts on SEO for organic search and linking for quality referrals. You can then use site navigation and content recommendation tools to encourage more exploration of your site.

Social media can still get people to your site to improve your traffic numbers, but it isn’t likely to increase your visit times or other engagement metrics. Instead, social media can be used for your overall brand marketing and for promoting specific landing pages, such as for sales and other promotions.

Social media is the place where you can encourage user engagement for brand loyalty, which you can then leverage in your other marketing strategies.

You don’t need to abandon any aspect of your marketing campaign. You just need to better understand how each of the tools in your box help you meet your goals and then use those tools appropriately.

Social media may be good for certain aspects of your marketing campaign but not others. When it comes to content marketing, promotion through your own site or through other quality content sites is your best bet.