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Channel Share of Traffic

Local Makes Up More than 1/3 of Organic Search for Location-Based Businesses

No matter what business you are in the fundamental questions of the marketing team are:

Which channels drive more traffic? Which channels drive the most engaged traffic? Which channels convert best and perform consistently over time?

The answers to these questions have strategic implications and provide the opportunity to fine-tune channel focus and spending to get the maximum traffic to a website. These results were identified in this research.

Analyzing traffic sources from multiple channels gives a benchmark and potential formula to replicate success and get more web traffic.

Research Methodology and Data Collection

The Milestone Research department, a team of in-house and industry experts, strives to measure and understand the business impact of different channels, factors, and tactics on website traffic and search engine optimization.

Milestone Research reviewed over 500 location-based websites, 63 million sessions, and 176 million page views over 18 months from Jan 2020 to June 2021 to generate these findings. Next, we categorized results as location or non-location-based businesses.

The findings stated below exclude the Direct channel because it is a derivative channel that depends on other channels for true top-of-funnel support, so the data represents what Milestone Research identifies as trackable digital traffic.

Organic Search and Local Drive 69% of Website Traffic

Organic Search contributes 46.5% of website traffic and Local contributes 22.6% of website traffic.

Analyzing the data over 18-months these 2 channels have also emerged as the most resilient and consistent channels throughout the pandemic.

The data proves that GMB and local ranking optimization plays a huge role in bringing website traffic.

Websites that focused on proximity to search, building strong local profiles, technical SEO, content, and metatags, consistently outperformed in bringing more website traffic.

Channel Share Top Channels

Organic Search and Local Drive 73% of Pageviews

Organic search and local by far drive the highest pageviews as together they contribute to 73% of overall page views.

Organic search refers to search results displayed by search engines without media cost and are tracked as separate from Local. Organic search results are based on the user’s search query and organic ranking factors.

For a marketer, organic search is important as it brings you relevant traffic for answering the user queries. The data indicates the role of search engine-friendly websites with schemas, structured data, keywords, metatags, image search optimization, FAQ, and voice search optimization.

Local Search is the primary search engine visibility for location-based businesses, the principal tactic for which is having a strong Google My Business profile followed by presence across data the core local channels-Apple, Yelp, Bing, and Foursquare.

Pageviews by top channels

Local and Organic Search Drive 67% of Website Revenue

Not only do Local and Organic produce the most traffic and highest engagement once that traffic arrives, but that traffic converts to the highest revenue per transaction of all the channels.

Referral Traffic is 3rd to Organic Search and Local with 9.4% of Web Traffic

Referral traffic is the 3rd largest contributor to website traffic with 9.4% of overall traffic.

Referral traffic is the visits to your website from the links on different sites. It is a recommendation from one website to another.

The data indicates that generating quality backlinks and external sources is a good source to generate web traffic.

Local Traffic is Highly Engaging with 3.92 Pageviews Per Session

Not only is Local the best performing channel, but it has the highest pageview % to session share % when compared to other top-performing channels. Traffic from Local on average had 3.92 page views per session.

Local traffic had a higher engagement with the mobile-first approach, images, FAQs, videos, short headlines, snippets, clear soft, and hard conversion CTAs.

Website pageviews per session for top channels

Local Traffic Share Is High Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

Between January 2020 and June 2021, the Local share of traffic for location-based businesses jumped from 19.2% to 28.8%, an increase of 52%. The Local share of revenue jumped from 21% to 28%, an increase of 33%.

Paid Search Brings in 8% of Website Traffic with 3.3 Pageviews per Session

For comparison, Paid Search is the 4th largest contributor bringing 8% of website traffic.

Engagement with paid search is also solid with 3.3 page views per session.

The data shows the power of paid search to influence buying decisions. Paid search is a good channel to reach out to customers who show interest in your website categories, especially when you need to drive results quickly or do not rank organically for a desirable topic.


As a research team, we were surprised at the data findings of Organic Search and Local driving 69% of sessions and 73% of page views. Local alone had a session share of 22.6% and this was data collected over 18 months. Local search was the most engaging channel among top performers with 3.92 page views per session.

This is a remarkable number that has quite a few inferences.

Firstly, it clearly shows how under-emphasized and lesser-funded Local and Organic Searches are compared to other channels. But given the data, they turn out to be the most reliable, resilient, and high-performing channels.

Secondly, it shows the return on investment these 2 channels can provide. Consider for a moment for a big business with millions of visitors, what kind of investment would it require to gather similar traffic from paid media, social, email. How many dollars can be saved by maximizing Local traffic?

Thirdly, consider the high engagement with 3.92 page views per session. By far these are the most significant channels that drive 70% of website revenue.

The key takeaways from this research are:

• Organic and Local Search together is the best combination for driving website traffic with 69% session share and 73% page view share.

• Local Search is the 2nd largest channel with a 22% session share. Local gives the best ROI with the highest page views per session compared to other channels.

• Local Search traffic is Highly Engaging with 3.92 page views per session.

• Referral traffic and paid search are healthy channels with website traffic of 9.4% and 8% respectively.

• The top 4 channels (Direct excluded) for generating more website traffic are Organic Search, Local Search, Referral, and Paid Search with 89.4% of pageview share.

Ten Recommendations for Local and Organic Success

  1. Complete Your GMB Profile
    Fill in and keep accurate all information about your business. Publish GMB Posts if available in your industry.
  2. Ensure Your URL, Name, Address and Place Are Consistent
    Make these elements perfectly consistent in all instances.
  3. Add Schemas
    Help search engines understand your website content by adding structured data and advanced schemas
  4. Mobile Experience and AMP
    50%+ of web traffic is mobile. Provide the best mobile experience, build a
    responsive website that seamlessly adapts to mobile devices. Give the best speed and digital experience on mobile by using AMP pages and Core Web Vitals. Optimize images for speed, originality, relevancy, and rich experience.
  5. Voice Optimization
    Ensure your website pages are voice-optimized to be picked up by Google
    Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Now.
  6. Add FAQs
    All search queries are questions. Adding rich FAQs to your website that
    answer questions potential customers are asking can give you a lot of search visibility and traffic.
  7. SEO-Friendly Website
    Get your technical SEO right for crawling and indexing. Tag your website
    with metatags, image tags, and social tags.
  8. Clear CTAs
    Use clear CTAs with information forms, coupons, and time-sensitive offers.
  9. Accessibility Compliance
    Ensure access to all customers by building an ADA compliant website.
  10. Event Calendar
    Enhance your special offerings and location visibility with event calendars.

Download the complete Milestone Channel Share Report.

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