Yahoo! Dominates U.S. Website Traffic

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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) continued to hold a significant lead as the most visited website in the United States, based on January figures. The owners of the other two portals, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) lagged behind it, as did Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) search engine. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) also fell well back of Yahoo! The numbers are such that they may help Yahoo! rise out of its advertising growth doldrums.

According to comScore data, based on U.S. desktop activity, the “Top 50” properties were dominated by portals, e-commerce and media sites. Yahoo!’s first place spot was due to its 195.2 million unique visitors. Next on the list was Google at 192.3 million. Third was Microsoft sites at 175.3 million. Microsoft owns portal MSN. Facebook was next at 140.8 million. AOL was fifth at 120.1 million. Next was e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) at 116.4 million. Sites owned by tradition media companies, including Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE: TWX) Turner properties, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) and Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), had unique visitors of more than 50 million in January.

Yahoo! has been criticized for its inability to increase revenue from display advertising. If there are two things that could help it break a cycle of flat sales, or even slowly declining ones, first would be the company’s diversity of content. It has, according to research, the Web’s largest financial, sports, news and gossip/entertainment destinations based on visitors. The other advantage Yahoo! has in the ad marketplace is its sheer size. If it can leverage this leadership, marketers may turn to it in greater numbers. At least that is the way the broader media industry works in terms of newspapers, magazines, radio and television. It could be that the Internet is not terribly different, or might not be in the near future.

So, with size as its ally, Yahoo! has a significant edge to take back some of the advertising market share it has lost primarily to Facebook and Google. That is, of course, if it can make its size matter.