In yesterday’s Media Industry Social Leaderboard, I noted that leading web publishers on the web saw a staggering 17% increase in their social traffic from November to December. These top 50 websites are now averaging about 8 million referrals per month from Facebook.
At this rate, the question asked by Fred Wilson and others is: how long until social drives more traffic than search? Based on data from Compete.com, it won’t be long at all. Let’s look at the specifics.
Facebook Drives Almost As Much Traffic As Google
When it comes to driving traffic, the gap between social and search is already smaller than most realize. In fact, for every 100 visits that Google sent to the top 50 web publishers in November, Facebook sent 62. By December, it was already up to 73 visits from Facebook for every 100 from Google.
At the same time, search traffic to these publishers is stable to declining, with Google referrals falling 0.5% over the same period.
So how long until Facebook outranks Google? If these monthly rates of change were to continue apace, Facebook traffic would outrank Google traffic for the top 50 publishers in aggregate by March of this year!
Seven Publishers Already Get More Traffic From Social Than Search
Shockingly, Compete.com data shows that already seven of the top 50 publishers get more traffic from Facebook than from Google: MSN, ThePostGame, Yahoo, Aol, People, Fox Sports, and US Magazine. These seven publishers received in aggregate 12% more visits from Facebook than they did from Google last month.
And that set of publishers has already grown by five from just a month earlier, in November of 2011, when only MSN and ThePostGame showed more traffic from social than from search.
But seven is just a snapshot in time. Based on recent trends, by the middle of this year, I’d expect it to grow to a dozen publishers or more.