Content analytics platform Parse.ly released data showing that Facebook passed Google in referral traffic to publishers in June. As of July, Facebook claimed a 38.2% share of referral traffic, compared to 35.2% for Google.
The findings are based on Parse.ly’s analysis of referral traffic to hundreds of clients, including Condé Nast, Mashable, Fox News, The Atlantic and Reuters, according to Marketingland, which first reported the news.
To be fair, the dueling online titans have switched places before, including last fall, when Facebook passed Google for the first time. However this time the lead is more substantial, Parse.ly algorithm chief Martin Laprise tells Marketingland.
Parse.ly’s study comes as Facebook seeks to tighten it grip on publishers even further with programs like “Instant Articles,” which allows publishers to host content directly on Facebook’s platform, making distribution and consumption easier and more efficient.
Facebook has also tweaked the algorithms that govern “organic reach,” meaning the distribution of content across users’ news feeds, in favor of publishers and at the expense of brand marketers. In other words editorial content has a leg up over marketing messages in the Facebook universe (to the chagrin of brands which spent considerable resources building their follower bases).
Google has also been refining the way it refers traffic to publishers. Most notably, the search giant started to give lower search rankings to algorithmic content publishers, which post content based on analysis of patterns in search traffic and auction bids.
In December 2013, Google announced a big move towards “high quality” content, again by giving it a higher profile in news feeds.