Google has once again overtaken Facebook as the number one traffic referrer in 2017.
CNBC reports that Google has beaten Facebook to the title of the largest traffic referrer in 2017. For a brief period, Facebook was the highest referrer of traffic to web publishers, but Google has once again taken the top spot as the year draws to a close. Digital analytics company Parse.ly recently revealed that in 2017, Google had become publisher’s main source for receiving external views, a drastic change from the beginning of the year when Facebook was responsible for the majority of traffic.
At the start of 2017, Facebook provided almost 40 percent of all external traffic received by publishers, but this number has drastically reduced by the end of the year to only 26 percent. Meanwhile, Google started with a figure of 34 percent and is now responsible for 44 percent of external traffic. This data was collected from the 2,500 publishers that use Parse.ly’s analytics service to measure traffic and internet metrics, some of the publishers include the Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., Mashable, and Huffington Post.
There are a number of factors which may have lead to Google retaking the spot of number one publisher. Facebook regularly tweaks their algorithm to change how Facebook users see content, last year the company altered their newsfeed algorithm to prioritize posts from friends and family members above those from publishers. Facebook’s “instant articles” feature which allowed Facebook users to read articles directly in the Facebook app has declined in popularity, and there has also been an overall move towards video content on the Facebook platform.
Videos that would previously have been hosted on a publisher’s website are now being hosted directly on Facebook, which could have a detrimental effect on the number of links to publisher’s own websites that are published on Facebook, if a reader can get the same information from a video on Facebook, they have no incentive to visit the publisher’s website. Facebook’s algorithm also prioritizes video over links on users newsfeeds.
The increase in popularity in Google’s own version of instant articles called Accelerated Mobile Pages which hosts publishers content directly on Google servers and pushes it to the “Top Stories” section of search results on mobile devices could also have lead to the vast increase in the number of referrals to publishers from Google. These metrics provide an interesting insight into the Google and Facebook advertising duopoly that has left many publishers worried for the future of their revenue streams.