Perplexity Referrals To Brand Sites Growing, Data Shows

BrightEdge’s analysis shows referrals from Perplexity, an AI-driven "ask" engine, to brand sites are growing at nearly 40% month-over-month since January. It presents the first evidence that Perplexity is not used solely for generative content, but also as a search engine that refers users to sites through citations.

“There are massive changes happening in search, just in the past few weeks,” said Jim Yu, founder of BrightEdge. “New investments are happening, changes in leadership at Google, for example.”

Yu wanted to know how the search world will change when there are multiple reliable and supportive search engines for marketers and advertisers.

In an internal study done with enterprise marketers, BrightEdge found 52% of marketers are experimenting with SGE, up from 13% when Google first introduced the technology. Some 17% today are experimenting with Perplexity.



The data and research released Wednesday through the BrightEdge Generative Parser, which analyzes, tracks and distills patterns, to show that marketers who reply on organic search strategies to reach customers have another option.

AI-driven search engines like Perplexity and ChatGPT signal a major shift in how brands market and sell products, but the emerging structure of these platforms means they frequently undergo dynamic changes that making them difficult to track.

The parser had previously focused research on gaining a deep understanding of the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE), but as of today it offers early insights on how Perplexity compares with SGE and how AI-first search engines can differentiate themselves.

News broke earlier this week that developers at Perplexity, an AI-driven “ask” engine, are working to determine the best integration with advertising for brands. The company launched in 2022 and has raised 102.3 million to date.

While Perplexity’s focus is on subscriptions, it is worth noting its contribution to advertising. It is important as Google SGE moves out of Labs, search teams change at Google, and Reddit filing for its initial public offering and Google relying on Reddit data to train its large language models (LLMs).

The difference in domains in which Google SGE and Perplexity pull information shed light on the sources of content each engine relies on. Reddit is a top domain across most of Perplexity’s citations by industry for seven of the top nine industries, with Healthcare and Finance as exceptions.

Perplexity and Google have a similar focus on high authority websites for Healthcare and Education, such as the Mayo Clinic, a top-ranked hospital, and online course provider Coursera.

Both engines for ecommerce heavily source Wikipedia and Amazon, but the overlap stops there. Google uses Quora and Consumer Reporters for third-party product information, while Perplexity references Reddit.

Perplexity, which is a major shift in organic search, is most likely to reference product sites, whereas Google SGE will also include informational resources such as lifestyle and news sites.

In Finance, Perplexity’s citations skew heavily toward Yahoo, MarketWatch and Barrons. Top search results on Perplexity and Google overlap, particularly in Healthcare.

Some 60% of Perplexity citations overlap with the top 10 organic Google results. This means Perplexity users get similar, relevant responses to Google, but with the added benefit of an AI-generated summary and conversation flow.

It has yet to be determined whether or not eventually search and AI-drive engines will merge.

Yu said, no, but this is where he and I differ in opinion.

Perplexity is seeing organic share rate growth at a rate of more than 39%, nearly 20%, per month, meaning that more consumers are using and engaging with the platform’s provided responses.

The engine also offers 5.28 citations per response. More citations show a search engine’s commitment to transparency, and creates opportunities for brands to gain referral traffic.

When asked when the BrightEdge Generative Parser will analyze Microsoft Copilot, Yu said we should stay tuned.

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