People accessing websites via mobile has mostly meant people arriving from social media. But now, after Facebook tweaked the News Feed algorithm away from Page content, the number of mobile users visiting sites directly from their URL has surpassed the number visiting from Facebook.
The share of mobile phone website traffic worldwide is undoubtedly growing. In 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3% in the previous year. Due to the strong growth of the smartphone market in recent years, this is no surprise, especially as mobile Internet often provides a more viable online connection in regions that lack the infrastructure and money for traditional and more expensive landline connections.
Data from Chartbeat shows that, since January 2017, total traffic from desktop to news sites declined by 14%, while mobile traffic increased by 34%. One of the main drivers for this is the growth in referred traffic from pages using AMP. For news sites, mobile has finally met desktop.
While Facebook traffic has been declining since the algorithm change, both Google Search and direct traffic have been steadily climbing. Mobile readers are now more likely to go direct to mobile apps & homepages by typing in the URL than they are to be referred to a site by Facebook.
Traffic from Twitter has declined by 18% since January 2017 and is now at a similar traffic level to Google Chrome Suggestions. There are very strong gains in the last year from a new tier of news aggregators such as Google News app, Flipboard, Instagram and Axel Springer’s Upday app.
Google News is quickly trending up as a referrer source, particularly since May 2018 when Google announced an all new Google News app that replaced Google Play Newsstand as well as the old Google News & Weather apps.
Flipboard has had a dramatic increase in the amount of referrer traffic it sends to publishers, and it is now a meaningful leading referrer, having doubled since June 2017. Instagram is commonly thought of as only a photo and video sharing app. However, we’re also seeing that it’s becoming a meaningful source of traffic for news sites; Instagram referrer traffic to publishers has grown 232%since January 2017.
Even more surprising is Upday News for Samsung — a news app from Axel Springer that is featured on Samsung phones. Since January 2017, Upday saw a huge tick upwards of 763% growth in referrer traffic. Upday is one of the fastest growing sources of traffic for publishers in Europe and it’s now driving roughly the same level of traffic to publishers as Instagram.
Readers Focus on Mobile
You may think reader attention is more scattered on mobile than on desktop, but Chartbeat data shows otherwise. On mobile homepages, the average visitor spends 40% more time actively engaging than their desktop counterpart.
Mobile readers are also 20% more likely to click-through to articles than those on desktop. Mobile homepage visitors click through to articles 68% of the time, compared to 57% on desktop. Whereas desktop homepage readers scroll more of the page, mobile readers are more engaged in reading articles by clicking from the mobile homepage into content.