Facebook Beating Google in Referral Traffic

When most people think of the web, and their best source of traffic, they most likely think of Google, however that may not be the case for long. According to a recent report from Parse.ly, Facebook now refers more traffic to news websites than Google. In Parse.ly’s quarterly authority report, the analytics company looked at referral traffic for the 100 most popular news sites in the Alexa and comScore rankings. For May to July, 43 percent of the traffic to those websites came from social media, with just 38 percent coming from search. Almost three quarters of the traffic for those news websites came from Google search domains, Google News or Facebook. Yahoo and Twitter, the next most significant traffic sources, collectively accounted for 9.3 percent of all referral traffic. Until recently, Google has always been a massive source of referral traffic, but that is no longer the case. Google’s referral traffic peaked towards the end of 2013, and has started to decline, while Facebook’s has been steadily increasing over the same period, with occasional seasonal dips. Today, Facebook accounts for 38.3 percent of news site referral traffic, while Google accounts for just 35.8 percent. This statistic is still impressive, but it is an interesting point for marketers. Google appears to have plateaued, and marketers that are willing to embrace Facebook stand to profit from the situation. Users are no longer going out and seeking the content that they are interested in – they expect that content to simply be put in front of them by their friends and their favourite brands. We cannot expect users to be proactive any more, we need to seek users out ourselves. Last year, Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, said that the company’s biggest competitor is not Bing or Yahoo, but Amazon. Perhaps he was mistaken, and Facebook is becoming the all-service provider that Google fears so much. This is certainly the case when you consider advertising and video. Facebook’s display growth has increased by 48 percent year-on-year, and their Video platform has reached 4 billion daily views. If Facebook is a threat to YouTube and to AdWords, as well as eating into the search marketplace, then Google will need to address that soon. Search is a great platform, but the potential for growth in it today is limited, and Google would do well to spend resources addressing that issue.


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