Who is publishers’ best friend: Google or Facebook?

In January of this year it was Facebook, providing nearly 40% of external traffic for web publishers. Then they changed their algorithm to favour user generated content and referral rates dropped to 26%. Google started 2017 with a share of 34% and now generate 44% of publishers’ external traffic.

Parse.ly data (coming from 2,500 publishers worldwide using their analytics services) shows how fickle friendship from the internet giants is. Every small change may result in huge consequences for web publishers.

Graph Pageviews Google vs Facebook

What happened in 2017?

There are a few obvious reasons for the changes in external traffic share of the duopoly:

  1. As mentioned above Facebook is constantly updating its news feed algorithm and any changes to the way Facebook surfaces stories could have far-reaching effects on publishers.
  2. Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature has declined in importance for external traffic
  3. There’s been a broad move toward publishing video directly on Facebook, which could affect how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages. Any algorithms on Facebook that prioritize native video over text links could have an effect, too.
  4. Google’s AMP — accelerated mobile pages — feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, has become more important. AMP stories — typically from news publishers — are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks.

Graph Facebook IA vs Google AMP

Source: Recode