Facebook is starting to drive more traffic to digital media websites than Google, as social media starts to rival search as a web discovery tool, according to new figures.
The data, from analytics firm Parse.ly, collected data for about 400 digital publishers, including Conde Nast, Reuters, Mashable, and The Atlantic.
Links shared on Facebook and Twitter have become a crucial source of incoming traffic, and have been vying with search as a source of new readers for some time.
“The company’s latest estimates show that social-media sources accounted for 43 percent of the traffic to the Parse.Ly network of media sites, while Google accounted for just 38 percent,” Fortune magazine quoted Parse.Ly’s chief technical officer Andrew Montalenti as saying.
This is not the first time that Facebook has edged past Google in the traffic-referral race, Montalenti said.
“The social network took the top spot by a small amount last October, but this month’s lead is far more dramatic,” Parse.Ly’s CTO said quoting from the company’s data.
“There’s a lot of effort among media companies being placed on specific social channels like Twitter, but our data shows that Twitter is basically a distant traffic source,” Montalenti was quoted as saying.
“Facebook is more like a black box in terms of how it operates. And yet it’s this huge and growing traffic source,” he said.
Facebook’s rise has been slow and steady since at least 2012, as it has been gradually wining referral traffic marketshare from Google Sites, which includes properties like Google News and Google.com web search.
The shift to social media also supports the theory that the world’s biggest publishers saw a dramatic drop in web traffic in April because of a Facebook algorithm tweak rolled out around the same time.