The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism published today the results of its analysis of the top 25 popular news websites in the United States. Among the findings:
- Even among the top nationally recognized news site brands, Google remains the primary entry point. The search engine accounts on average for 30% of the traffic to these sites.
- Social media, however, and Facebook in particular, are emerging as a powerful news referring source. At five of the top sites, Facebook is the second or third most important driver of traffic. Twitter, on the other hand, barely registers as a referring source. In the same vein, when users leave a site, “share” tools that appear alongside most news stories rank among the most clicked-on links.
More on google vs. Facebook deep in the report:
“Google News does not link people to content on Facebook. That makes a certain amount sense as Facebook is not a news site and thus would be very unlikely to a part of the search algorithm for news. But the relationship or lack thereof, works both ways. Few if any users come to Google News via Facebook. In other words, Facebook users are not posting Google News search results on their news feeds (Google does host some wire service content directly on their site so it is conceivable that Facebook users could link to these stories. But, according to this data, such instances are rare, if they even occur at all.) This suggests that in the behavior on these sites, and perhaps the way the sites are built, Google and Facebook are increasingly set up as competitors sorting through the material on the Web. Google does so through the power of its search algorithms. Facebook does so through the power of affinity groups and peer sharing. They are two fundamentally different way to navigate the Web, and they are not, at least as of 2010, comingling with each other as much as other content sites mingle with both of them.”