Facebook has landed the latest punch in the heavyweight battle with Google for referral traffic supremacy.
According to new data from Parse.ly — a content analytics platform serving some of the biggest publishers on the internet — the social network passed Google as the leading source of referral traffic in June and in July extended its lead to three percentage points, 38.2 per cent to 35.2 per cent.
It’s the second time in less than a year that Facebook has moved ahead of Google in Parse.ly’s rankings; it also inched ahead last fall.
Parse.ly’s data doesn’t come from a huge sample. But the company said its 400 clients, including Fox News, Telegraph Media Group, Mashable, Business Insider, Condé Nast, The Atlantic and Reuters, are representative of the overall publishing market. And these results dovetail with others that show social media pulling ahead of search in referral traffic.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Facebook’s advantage will stick. We asked Martin Laprise, Parse.ly’s algorithms lead, to provide insight into how publishers should react to the new information. The following is a lightly edited email Q&A with Laprise:
Facebook passed Google in referrals for a brief period last fall, but then Google rallied. Are the signals different this time?
Martin Laprise: Referral traffic from Facebook passed referral traffic from Google in October and November of 2014; however, during this time, the difference between referral traffic from either site was negligible at around one per cent.
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