Government websites offer a variety of services and information. In addition to health insurance, Americans most often search for information about taxes on IRS.gov, health on NIH.gov and retirement benefits on SSA.gov.
Government websites also function as a portal to the various functions of government at the state level. A glance at the State of California’s website homepage offers links to state agencies, information for tourists and plenty of other links to pages that provide important information about the state. Three of the four most populous states, California, New York and Florida, also had among the 10 most visited websites.
The number of unique visitors to the top 10 government websites in February totaled slightly more than 82 million. To compare, each of the top five commercial websites draws more than 100 million visitors per month. Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) draws more than 154 million visitors, and its YouTube site draws almost 105 million more visitors. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and MSN/Windows Live/Bing draw about 119 million each. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) rounds out the top five most visited commercial websites with about 81.5 million unique visitors a month.
Nielsen reported the traffic data, including the number of unique visitors in February 2014, and the average time spent by each visitor.
These are the 10 most popular government websites.
10. The White House
>Unique users: 2.7 million
>Average time spent: 4 minutes 58 seconds
Whitehouse.gov is the official website for the Office of the President and the place to go if you are looking for President Barack Obama’s policy statements and other executive branch communications. The website includes a link for starting a petition that any visitor can use. And provided the petition gets enough signatures, the Obama Administration will review it and issue a response.
9. State of Florida
>Unique users: 2.8 million
>Average time spent: 18 minutes 4 seconds
The official portal for the State of Florida is actually MyFlorida.com, but many of the pages linked from the state’s homepage use the fl.us domain. While domain use is not important to visitors, it does make Nielsen’s count more problematic. How can Florida have less than 3 million unique visitors in the coldest, darkest month of the year?
8. Department of Veterans Affairs
>Unique users: 2.8 million
>Average time spent: 16 minutes 21 seconds
The Veterans Affairs website provides veterans of the U.S. armed forces information on a variety of topics of special interest to veterans, as well as links to services, such as applications for certain benefits. There are about 23 million armed forces veterans in the United States, with Gulf and Vietnam era vets each counting for about a third, and World War II and Korean Conflict vets accounting for a diminishing portion of the rest.
7. Department of Health and Human Services
>Unique users: 2.9 million
>Average time spent: 23 minutes 16 seconds
The sign-up period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ended on March 31. The website served 36 of the 50 states. According to an AP report, the site had 1.5 million visitors a day in the last week before the deadline and 1.7 million on Sunday, March 30. The Obama Administration reported that more than 7 million people signed up for health insurance, and that some 85% of those have paid their first-month’s premium.
6. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
>Unique users: 3.5 million
>Average time spent: 4 minutes 54 seconds
The CDC website is primarily an informational site. It has information about human diseases and symptoms, emergency preparedness and response, environmental health, healthy living, as well as data and statistics. The site offers, for example, a free tool that can help parents track their child’s development.
5. State of New York
>Unique users: 4.2 million
>Average time spent: 14 minutes 21 seconds
The New York State government, like Florida’s, has developed a somewhat fragmented Web presence. Although the number of unique visitors to NY.gov is nearly double Florida’s, the actual number of visitors to the state’s different websites is probably much higher. And if you think that ILoveNY.com should point only to New York City, you’ll be surprised to find information on many different parts of the state.
4. Social Security Administration
>Unique users: 5.3 million
>Average time spent: 15 minutes 12 seconds
The Social Security Administration employs more than 80,000 people at the state and federal levels who work in around 1,500 offices throughout the country. In February, there were nearly 63.4 million U.S. citizens receiving Social Security benefits. In fiscal year 2014, the agency expects to process more than 5.4 million benefit claims. The agency expected to process 48% of all benefit claims on its website in 2013.
3. State of California
>Unique users: 6.6 million
>Average time spent: 19 minutes 16 seconds
The State of California’s website offers links to state agencies and tourist information, as well as other relevant information relevant to state residents. Unlike the Florida and New York sites, however, California manages its websites under a single domain name.
2. National Institutes of Health
>Unique users: 11.1 million
>Average time spent: 7 minutes 31 seconds
Like the CDC, the NIH provides information on health issues and is also part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the site, it is “the nation’s medical research agency — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.” The NIH website also includes a link where researchers can apply for grants.
1. Internal Revenue Service
>Unique users: 26.1 million
>Average time spent: 17 minutes 4 seconds
Because the Nielsen data was collected in February, it very likely wasn’t the peak traffic season at the IRS — which is probably right about now, a week from the filing deadline. An average visit to IRS.gov lasted more than 15 minutes — not long enough to fill out a tax return, but long enough to find and read the instructions for filing the return.