Welcome to Shareaholic’s Referral Traffic Report. According to our findings based on aggregated data from more than 200,000 publishers that reach more than 260 million unique monthly visitors each month, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.


The report doesn’t show all referral sources – there are hundreds of thousands – but it does shed some light on where some of the most talked about websites stand.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pinterest grew from 2.5% of referral traffic in December to 3.6% of the referrals in January. That’s impressive growth from just owning .17% of the traffic back in July.
  • Referral traffic from Google+ dropped slightly in January, although Google’s product set (Google news, Google images, Gmail) continues to be a top referral source. Google continues to integrate Google+ into its offering more and more, so it will be an interesting trend to watch.
  • Eyeing its IPO this week, Facebook continues to dominate referral traffic, with mobile traffic alone accounting for 4.3% of overall referrals. Referral traffic grew by about 1% in January, making it the second fastest-growing site for referral traffic after Pinterest.
  • Although Pinterest did beat out YouTube in referral traffic, YouTube’s referrals grew by .07% in January. It’s got to be the Sh*t Girls Say meme. Definitely.
  • It’s important to note StumbleUpon’s position as the number two referral source. It seems like most people don’t talk or think about it nearly as much as top-of-mind Pinterest and Google+, but it continues its stronghold owning 5.07% of referrals in January. Similar bookmarking site Reddit also ranked as a top source of referral traffic, with both Stumbleupon and Reddit significantly beating out Delicious and Digg.
  • Lastly, it’s always interesting to check in with the once-powerful MySpace. It continues to linger as a small source of referral traffic with no sign of growth this month.

It’s the end of the month and the perfect time to dig into your analytics and measure the effectiveness of your content efforts so far this year. You may notice new trends in keywords or traffic sources, or get validation on a current content strategy you have to drive traffic. Learn about where your content gets shared the most with your Shareaholic website profile, and find out which of those sources drives referrals under Traffic Sources/Sources/Referrals in Google Analytics. These are great general findings, but it is most important to learn about your audience and your website. Figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and alter your approach accordingly so you make your content even more successful as the year progresses.

Curious to see updated figures for our Traffic Reports? Check out our recent studies. Have questions? Email press@shareaholic.com.

  • That’s pretty impressive considering that Pinterest doesn’t have nearly the integration into social menus (like your “Sharing is caring” menu) that the other services have. Since the “Pin It” functionality is on the user to have enabled, it’s going to be interesting to see how the numbers continue to climb once bloggers start putting “Pin It” buttons on all their content right next to the Tweet, Like, and +1 buttons.

    • @LukeCoburn Yep – very impressive for the young site! I would add that you can now add Pinterest to the social media button set in the WordPress admin section.

      • BobS

        @JanetAronica @LukeCoburn How do you add the Pinterest button. I am not seeing it? I have looked, but do not see it

  • SeanVosler

    Pretty amazing! Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention! time to explore pinterest!!

  • mrjasonmiles

    Great article, very helpful news!! Will Pinterest really be the #2 social network behind Facebook? It’s hard to believe, but data like this suggests it’s certainly plausible.


    • @mrjasonmiles It’s not there yet! Still beat by Google, StumbleUpon and Twitter but we’ll have to watch this trend.

  • More important than ever to fix ugly/bad websites!

  • That’s pretty impressive

  • What kind of traffic is Pinterest driving? By what kind, I mean what category. Fashion? Food? Gadgets? By the looks of the popular and everything pages it looks to be fashion and food. I’m really curious on that type of info.

    • @DevonJordan Those are great questions! I’ve seen more specific studies on categories like retail. These publishers are from all kinds of categories.

  • Mary_Fletcher_Jones

    How did you collect the data? Who are these publishers? Did you cull them from your database of Shareaholic users? Also is it global, or just U.S.? Thanks for supplying this info. It will help provide perspective on this finding.

    • @Mary_Fletcher_Jones This was based on aggregated data from more than 200k publishers who are part of Shareaholic’s network – all those publishers reach more than 260 million unique monthly visitors each month! It’s global. Thanks for reading!!

  • dayve

    I’ve Pinned this article about Pinterest. One more tick for Pinterest. ;)

  • dracnath

    Hi Janet-

    Just trying to clarify this in my own mind. You have 260,000,000 visitors over 200,000 publishers. Giving something around 1300 visitors on average.

    And according to your figures, Facebook is driving more than a quarter of all the traffic to your publishers and Google is only driving 3.62%? That would seem to suggest that social is a much more effective way of driving traffic and awareness of smaller sites than search.

    I’m not sure that this number would scale for larger publishers. I’m struggling to believe that Facebook is driving nearly 7.3x as much traffic as Google across the entire internet.

    • @dracnath Hi there – Actually we just recently crossed more than 270 million unique monthly visitors across more than 200k publishers. This is referral traffic – not organic/search. The stuff from Google is Google products like Gmail. So yes, Facebook is driving that much.

      • Chris Zaharias

        @JanetAronica I think you should update the article to make clear that this is not counting Google organic or AdWords referrals. I know of several people who are wrongly interpreting this to mean Pinterest is driving more traffic than Google search.

  • StefanSuarez

    Hi @JanetAronica :)

    Found you from Social Media Examiner…

    Not full on stalking (yet) but I do love your articles.

    Been a user of both the Shar-a-holic Firefox extension and Sexy Bookmarks (i didn’t know until today that you guys made that) WP plugin for years now… and I’m just wondering..

    1. Why there’s no “Pin It” yet on Firefox addon

    2. Why Sexy Bookmarks seemed to have disappeared from the Plugin chest at WPorg?



  • In my experience Pinterest referrals already pass my Google+ traffic, and is going hand to hand with StumbleUpon, leaving behind Facebook and Twitter!…

  • I think its fascinating that the growth of this network has achieved… I wonder how much is due to the ‘newness’ of it

  • elowitz

    Hi Janet,
    Can you clarify a bit more on the methodology:  how did you collect the data – is it from GA or from an on-site javascript or …?  Are you representing 100% of the inbound referrals from the publishers?  Besides organic search and paid search, what else did you strip out?

    •  @elowitz Hey there – Excited to see you visit our blog. :) Happy to clarify. It’s from on-site javascript. We’re including all referral traffic, including mobile. We stripped out organic, paid and direct.

      • elowitz

         @JanetAronica Thanks Janet.  I ran an analysis trying to get at the same thing using Compete.com.  I studied just the top 50 publishers – but got significantly different results.  It’s posted on my blog (digital quarters.net, no plug intended).  Am trying to see if I can understand the differences.  –Ben

  • Facebook will be a problem in the futur. The persons become associable.

  • wait a minute… if stumbleupon is such a contender, why would there be ZERO shares compared to the hundreds of these other engines? Is your share-counter broken?

    •  @dschulzjackson Good question but you’re comparing two different things – sharing content vs. discovering content. Appears that many more people *discover* content on StumbleUpon vs. those who share to StumbleUpon. This isn’t out of the ordinary for social media – think about the number of people who upload videos (share) to YouTube vs. the number of people who watch (discover) them.

  • I am just looking into case studies of successful Pinterest for Business and I have had 2 conversations this morning on this subject already. 

  • This is a exciting source of knowledge, Im glad I read this article. I am going to be back again soon to see more that you have. 

  • yoursocialfans

    This is good post.Its very interesting.Thanks for reviewing the status of the traffic report.Amazing story.

  • Greet source.But is that really true that painterest really do this thing !
    Well like the post .I am a Graphics designer and provide Clipping path typs of service through Adword of Google but now i like to use painterest.

  • Greet source.But is that really true that painterest really do this thing !
    Well like the post .I am a Graphics designer and provide Clipping path typs of service of http://www.xcidographics.com through Adword of Google but now i like to use painterest.

  • I’m a little surprised that facebook dominates the referral traffic, but thanks for turning me on to pinterest!

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  • Saying ‘the most referral traffic’ doesn’t have much meaning, out of context. Referrals to what, exactly? Just in general? Who were these 200,000 publishers the data was taken from? What industries are they in? Different sites are going to have different leaders for referrals. I’m sure Pintrest dominates referrals to websites about kitchy baked goods, and DIY art projects. But how about the Economist.com? Probably not so much Pintrest traffic coming in.

    • Hi Brien – Thanks for reading! This data comes from sharing trends for a global network of 200k publishers who reach more than 270 million people each month. This is a significant dataset. These publishers are a wide range of websites, mostly content-driven websites like blogs. Among our publishers are Wayfair.com and Patriots.com, if you’re looking for evidence of our tools across the internet. Surely some websites get more Pinterest data than others depending on the industry, but across all websites this is the general trend.
      Hope that helps!
      – Janet from Shareaholic

  • emily86

    (P)interesting stats! How will this affect future marketing strategies particularly within the image-centric industry of fashion?

  • Facebook is becoming the primary earner visiting !

  • That is cool. I really need to get up to speed om pintrest. So much to learn :-)

  • jimbran

    Liked this Post..Try http://www.gripsell.com/pinterest-clone/

  • I would definitely be interested in getting that set!

  • Wow! So cute, nice blog, I found it interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mostafizur

    Awesome!!!Great blog.Thanks for sharing.

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  • This is great post.Its extremely interesting.Thanks for looking into the status of the activity report.Amazing story.

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