Publishers that implemented Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project seem to have benefited from their efforts. While Facebook sent 25% less traffic to publishers this year, Google increased its traffic by 17%, according to data comparisons from the period from February 2017 to October 2017.
Analysis from Parse.ly, a digital analytics company, suggests that in 2017, Google overtook Facebook and became the top source of traffic to publisher sites. The analytics company attributes Google's increase, in part, to AMP. AMP specifically has increased by 87% among Parse.ly's customers.
The initial shift began at the beginning of April, and then continued during the beginning of June 2017. In a downhill slide, Facebook experienced a massive decline in referral traffic to publishers in December.
The decrease has not affected all publishers working with Parse.ly equally, per the analysis. Some have seen huge declines in Facebook referral traffic, while others have seen an increase in the same period.
Two-thirds of the publishers saw a decrease in referral traffic during the period analyzed, while the remaining one third saw an increase. For about half of the publishers, traffic fell 20% or more, and for one in five publishers, Facebook referral volume was cut by at least 50%.
Facebook rolls out changes to its News Feed algorithm incrementally, which makes it difficult to attribute a decrease in traffic to a particular change, according to Parse.ly. Since there's no immediate spike or dip on the day a change takes place, Parse.ly analysts can only speculate about what caused the drop. There are several reasons for news articles appearing less frequently in Facebook users’ news feeds.
Aside from Facebook's continuous changes to the News Feed and seasonality, publishers make changes such as curating their Facebook pages, creating more video content, or integrating with Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook’s mobile news standard.