Any SEO marketer knows there are many ways to get your hands dirty in that inbound marketing budget pie.  One can go heavy on the social end of the pie and focus on things like Twitter and Facebook.  You can go on with paid search, which gives you a higher chance of getting your site seen on the search engines.  There’s even making a strong SEO play.

There are a lot of SEO clients out there who will probably ask you where they should be when it comes to the percentage of traffic coming to their website from natural search.  In truth, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.  There are quite a few factors that can influence channel spend, which includes type of vertical, product/service type, organizational culture and more.  What we would tell many of these site owners is that they should understand where one’s distribution fits relative to others in their industry.

What one site did,, analyzed 30 websites across six industries and looked at their inbound traffic over a one year time period.  Over 310 million visits in total were analyzed.

According to Conductor’s analysis, most of the traffic that is driven to a site is natural search.  It’s responsible for nearly half (well, 47% actually) of all visits.  Looking at the chart below, you can see that only 15% of visits were referrals, and social only drove 2% of all traffic to the websites.

Graphic 1

If we looked at specific industries, it would appear that consumer electronics, online retail and education industries seem to share similar channel distributions of traffic, which includes between 53 to 56% of traffic sourced from natural search.  Other channels tend to share comparable ranges of traffic distribution.

This isn’t always the case though, as the banking and finance industry sees a different share of traffic distribution.  A larger portion tends to come from direct visits, which could be due to a greater percentage of users that log in to either banking or trading platforms through direct site access.

Let’s also take a look at the travel industry.  Although natural search was the largest driver of traffic, paid search drove a significantly higher amount of traffic in travel when compared to others.  This is due to the hyper competitiveness of search in t he travel industry.  This is because the value of the average visitor is quite high.  Paid search in the travel industry has, in the past, commanded the highest CPC values and the highest investment of all industries.  Conductor’s analysis confirmed that this trend is the largest percentage of all industries that were analyzed, which came in at 18% of traffic coming from paid.

Graphic 2

Comparing Yourself To Others In Your Industry

There many factors that can affect how the traffic that comes to your site is split up.  There is no way you can come up with one single traffic distribution formula that will work with every site in every industry.  In order to come up with a plan that fits for your industry, you need a baseline for comparison against your own traffic.  Once you’ve performed the  analysis, if you decide to place a renewed focus on SEO as an inbound channel, you can check out this recorded webinar to get started on an SEO success plan:  10 Step to Achieve SEO Success.