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Report: Google Still Web's Dominant Traffic Driver, But Some Niches See Facebook Gaining

A wide-ranging report out today paints a rosy picture for the future of search and search ads, and more specifically for Google to continue its dominance of the search landscape. But there are small niches where Google’s position as a dominant traffic driver might be taking a hit.

Citi analyst Mark Mahaney released a 30-page report largely using comScore data that details traffic to the 35 top web properties in six categories — Retail, Travel, Finance, Media, Auto and Health.

Google Vs. Facebook As Traffic Source

Google is the No. 1 source of traffic for 26 of the 35 properties analyzed (74%), and Google traffic has increased or stayed the same since last July for 24 of them (69%).


But there may be small chinks in Google’s armor. Mahaney says Google is driving less traffic to media sites, even though it’s still the primary source for all sites measured in that category. As the chart above shows, only 20% of the media sites analyzed have seen a rise in Google traffic — which means 80% are getting less.

Meanwhile, Facebook traffic to all five of the top media sites was up over the last year. For Glam Media sites, Google is still the top traffic source, but it dropped from 17% last year to 13% in January 2011. Meanwhile, Facebook traffic rose from 5% to 9% in the same period.

Google Traffic & Content Farms

Citi’s analysis relies on comScore data that was collected before Google’s recent Farmer/Panda update. So, it’s interesting to see that the report suggests Google was already sending less traffic to some so-called content farms, while Bing and Yahoo have been sending more.

Consider Demand Media: Citi says Google is still the top traffic source to its sites, but it dropped from 33% to 27% over the past year. Meanwhile, Yahoo (9% to 11%) and Bing (5% to 9%) traffic to Demand Media sites rose in that period.


Similarly, in the Health vertical, Google traffic to Demand Media’s Livestrong.com site was reportedly down over the past year, while Yahoo and Bing traffic were both up.

Some other takeaways from the Citi report:

  • Despite growing interest in Facebook advertising, Facebook isn’t taking money away from search ad budgets.
  • 81% of YouTube’s Top 100 videos are being monetized, compared to 60% a year ago. A quote: “We believe that Google’s long-term value would be materially less if it didn’t own YouTube.”
  • With products like Places, Tags, and Boost, “Google’s Local Advertising opportunity is significant.”
  • On the mobile front, Citi offers this quote: “We believe Google’s Mobile Search market share is actually higher than its PC Search market share.”

(featured home page image via Shutterstock.com)

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