In the great race of Internet traffic, Facebook has hot-footed it in front of Google – winning the title of the leading source of traffic for news sites, according to recent analytical reports.
Traffic-analytics service Parse.ly has reported that from the period May-July, social media sources accounted for 43% of traffic to the network of news and media sites. Of these sources, Facebook is by far the largest – and these stats trump Google’s 38% traffic contribution. They’re also more than double Facebook’s previous record, which was in January last year.
The Parse.ly report is made up of some huge names – international publishing outlets including Wired, Reuters, and The Daily Telegraph are among its 400-strong network of clients. Also on the role-call are digital-only outlets like Mashable, The Next Web, and Business Insider. And the recorded figures are pretty impressive – in a month alone, the network record a whopping six billion page views and over one billion unique visits. That’s a lot of traffic.
But before we start the Facebook fanfare, this isn’t the first time this has happened. In terms of news referrals, Facebook has surpassed Google before, back in October, taking the top spot by the smallest of small margins.
But “How?!” we hear you cry. Insiders at Parse.ly have tried to explain exactly how Facebook has found itself in first place. It’s all to do with the fact that Facebook are now actively collaborating with news outlets – in the aim of curating and promoting different content.
Andrew Montalenti, chief technical officer at Parse.ly says, “I believe the reason Facebook did this is because they realized that a lot of the interesting conversations happening around the web were happening around major news, media, and information.”
Currently, it’s not clear what caused Google to slip into second place. Parse.ly says it could be due to the company’s constantly changing referral practices. Previously, Google provided the data needed – news outlets knew which keywords to use in directing traffic to their sites. With Google now keeping schtum on such information, publishers have got their work cut out when hoping to hit those high-rankings.
With the continual growth in the popularity of social media, the search engine giant might not be the last company that Facebook overtakes. It hit a milestone last week, when over a billion people used the site in a single day – in a post (on Facebook of course) company founder Mark Zuckerberg said that “1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family”.
Google have been criticised for ‘making life difficult’ for other players in the industry, with their mercurial and mysterious ways. Experts criticise this sort of algorithm secrecy, saying it makes it difficult for publishers to plan effective strategies that promote their content through social media. All we know is to watch this space – Google may think twice about being so cloak and dagger, if it means surrendering its title as ‘King of the Internet’.