Google is now responsible for routing more organic traffic to online publishers than Facebook in almost every media category.
Google has overtaken Facebook as the number-one referrer of external traffic to news articles online, according to a new report by technology company Parse.ly.
Analyzing referral traffic data from more than a million articles on the Internet, Parse.ly discovered that Google search now accounts for 46 percent of all major referral traffic, followed by Facebook (29 percent), Twitter (2.2 percent) and Clipboard (1.7 percent).
Facebook had in recent years become the top source of traffic to third-party sites published by online media companies, but the social media giant famously tweaked its algorithms last year after criticisms arose that it had circulated fake content created by Russia-backed companies in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential election.
Those algorithmic changes now emphasize content posted by users’ contacts over its news feed and have subsequently diminished the site’s value among the online media outlets, newsrooms and brands that depend on Facebook for routing organic traffic to their content.
Findings by Parse.ly suggest that beginning last year, referral trends began shifting away from Facebook and toward Google, with referral traffic volume from Facebook falling 25 percent between February and October 2017 while Google’s traffic surged at the same time.
When broken down by article category, Parse.ly found that Google now refers more traffic than Facebook in every category with the exception of lifestyle, education, law/government/politics and real estate.
Facebook remains especially strong when it comes to driving traffic to lifestyle content, outpacing Google by eight percent overall. However, even in this category, Facebook has ceded ground, as Parse.ly found that prior to Facebook’s reversal last year, 87 percent of audiences discovered lifestyle articles through the social media platform. One category within the lifestyle group — food/drink — now sees more traffic from Google, and Google referral traffic to health and fitness items now equals Facebook in terms as well.
Parse.ly’s report also found that combined referrals from external traffic sources other than Google and Facebook increased by about three percent last year, with 35 percent of traffic to media sites now coming from sites such as Twitter, Drudge Report, Google News and Flipboard.
The findings were based on Parse.ly’s analysis of eight billion page views from more than a million articles within the company’s network of more than 2,500 media sites between April and May 2018.