Facebook main driver of traffic for news sites, not Google — report

21 Aug 2015

Facebook has overtaken Google as the main social media vehicle to drive traffic to news sites, according to statistics from Parse.ly.

In a shift that has been coming, gradually, for about two years now, Facebook closed in on the search giant a few months back, with it’s position strengthened significantly in the latest figures.

By looking at its own clients, Parse.ly found that almost 40pc of traffic to news sites comes from Facebook, with Google (around 38pc) lagging behind.

In fact, 43pc of all referrals came through social, with Facebook entirely dominant in that sector.

The company’s clients include more than 400 major media outlets, including the likes of Wired, The Atlantic, Reuters, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider and The Daily Telegraph.

Facebook v Google

Many traditional news outlets are still trying to master the web, entering a playing field with consistently shifting goalposts.

Algorithms change continually as Google and Facebook try – and succeed – to stay ahead of the game.

But general shifts like this can prove remarkably important as targeting both Facebook and Google with content is two different tasks, but neither rule out the other.

Facebook v Google

SEO’s significance is huge, exemplified by the fast-paced death of puns in headlines. Now stories online are keyword lead, with company names, celebrities and devices packed into URLs.

But the use of Facebook to push your content is complicated. The company is seeking out ways to contain it on its own social media, rather than sending users away.

The social media giant recently launched Instant Articles, letting partner media sites post content directly on its app. It also upgraded its Notes blogging platform. It’s even targeting Twitter, in the ‘instant news’ area.

But still, with figures going in this direction, it looks like standard updates are doing a fine job for publishers.

Social media’s importance should be no surprise, though, with a recent broad report in the US showing that it’s where the majority of people garner their news.

One last note on these figures – Google’s search engine dominance is incredible.

Main image via Shutterstock, body images Parse.ly’s media referral stats

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic