Is Facebook really driving more traffic than Google?

Written on 15 October, 2015 by James Baylis
Categories: Social Media | Tags: facebook, facebook instant articles, google, search

With recent data indicating that Facebook is now driving more traffic to news sites than Google, does this mean social media could realistically rival search as a web-discovery tool?

Data from analytics company Parse.ly shows that websites in their information pool collectively received more traffic from Facebook for the first time over May to July 2015, with 43% of visitors coming from social media sites combined and 38% from all search engines. This data accounted for news sites only, rather than all websites.

What's changed?

Social media has been steadily increasing its market share and, since the start of 2013, Facebook has seen a constant growth in this sector. Facebook has continued to grow member numbers. A larger audience as well as businesses being more savvy on the platform have combined to great effect. Many predict this gap will continue to grow as the much-anticipated Instant Articles program gets rolled out.

What are Instant Articles?

In May this year, Facebook teamed up with nine media outlets across America and Europe to publish unique content on its platform. Accessed through the Facebook app, these content-rich articles load much more quickly than on other apps or websites. For users, they get high-quality content from one place that's easier to read and quicker to load than other sources. For websites, they collect advertising money, have great flexibility in what they can publish and, figures now show, they receive more traffic.

What's in the future?

Instant Articles is currently limited to nine publishers and only 5% of Facebook users have access to the articles. Early data indicates a great uptake, so it won't be long before more websites are invited to share their content in this way and more Facebook app users have access to the content.

What does this mean for brands?

For businesses that publish news – or similarly frequent articles – this provides them with a way to reach new audiences, get more traffic to their site, earn more followers on their pages and generate greater interaction with readers. Users will spend more time on Facebook as it becomes a source of useful content that's better served than on most websites, which means other companies can also take advantage.

With people spending more time on Facebook, it means brands – even if they're not directly involved with Instant Articles – can take advantage by having a strong social media strategy and increasing their advertising revenue on the site.

Do you think Facebook can take on Google when it comes to driving traffic to websites?