Google, Facebook Have a Stranglehold on Web Traffic

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When it comes to being noticed on the worldwide web, publishers and content producers need to break into just two websites that account for nearly 80% of referral traffic: Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google. That’s hardly news.

What may be news is that users tend to seek information on different topics from the two web giants. People searching for lifestyle news are about 12 times more likely to use Facebook than Google to find what they’re looking for. Those searching for business and financial news are better than three times more likely to find what they’re seeking using Google Search.

The data were reported recently by data analytics firm Parse.ly. The firm scanned more than 10 million articles published on its network in 2016 to determine the referral percentages from identifiable, external sources.

On the topic of “world economy,” for example, 43% of the referrals to some 26,000 posts came from Google Search and 36% from Facebook. The most common words in the posts were “China” and “oil.” Google News (news.google.com) got another 4.6% and Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) got 4%.

On the topic of “presidential politics,” 59.5% of referrals to 110,000 posts came from Facebook and 24.6% came from Google Search. Google News took 4.3% and Twitter 4.1% of the referrals on this topic. The most common words were “Trump” and “Clinton.”

The “sports” topic drew 50.4% of its referrals from Google Search and 19.2% from Facebook. Twitter performed third-best on this topic, with 10.6% of referrals to a total of 210,000 posts.

When the topic turns to “technology,” people turn to Google Search by a margin of 60.8% to 21.3% for Facebook. The top words in this category were “university” and “car.”

The full report with charts and a detailed methodology is available at the Parse.ly website.