Drudge Report drives more traffic than Facebook and Twitter combined, study says

A link from the Drudge Report drives more traffic to your website than Facebook and Twitter combined.

That was the central finding in a study released this week by Outbrain, a content recommendation engine whose clients include the New York Times, the Atlantic and the New York Post, among others.

Outbrain discovered that the siren-happy conservative news aggregation site founded by Matt Drudge is responsible for about 7 percent of referral traffic for clients of the service during the second quarter of 2011--a more than double the combined traffic that Facebook (1.1 percent) and Twitter (1.7 percent) drive to websites in the Outbrain network. Drudge also refers more traffic than the Huffington Post (4.3 percent), FoxNews.com (1.3 percent) and CNN (1.1 percent) combined, the study says.

Facebook, however, disputes the figures; according to Mashable, one of Outbrain's clients, the firm "has agreed to look over its Facebook numbers again."

According to Quantcast--another service that analyzes online traffic--the Drudge Report averages about 14 million unique visitors a month, and about 82 million page views. Facebook and Twitter, by comparison, respectively log 73 million and 29 million unique visitors in the United States per day.

The findings echo those of a similar study conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. In that study, the Drudge Report was the second- or third-most influential referral source for more than half of the top 25 news websites.

The Outbrain study also shows that links from content sites (including news publishers or aggregators) are more important than those from social media and search.

Links from content sites drive 56 percent of referrals to news websites, while search accounts for 37 percent. Social media referrals (from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit et al.) account for just 7 percent. And visitors referred through content sites are also more engaged--meaning that they are apt to spend more time and explore more related features on a given site--than visitors who arrive at a website through search or social streams.

Google's share of overall referrals dropped 5.5 percent, from 37.7 percent in the first quarter to 32.2 percent in the second quarter; Yahoo--the number two driver of referral traffic on the Web--jumped 2 percent to 15.8 percent overall.