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Google Maps Gaining Ground, But MapQuest Still On Top

Cowen & Co. recently ranked Google Maps as the best online mapping tool in terms of quality -- but when it comes to traffic, AOL's MapQuest is still king. Nearly half of all map-seekers head to MapQuest, according to Hitwise stats, and about a third head to Google Maps. That leaves just a fraction of the traffic for Yahoo Local, Live Local and Ask Maps.

Heather Hopkins poses the question of why so many users still flock to MapQuest, given what some call Google's superior interface. Part of it is likely habit -- as MapQuest is the original online directions and map provider -- and recently, the company revamped its homepage and added new features. "Since then the site seems to be getting a lift in visits," Hopkins says. "As you can see from the week ending 6th September 2008, visits have been increasing steadily."

Meanwhile, map-based traffic to Google also continues to increase, fueled by both paid and organic search efforts. "Google.com is sending more traffic to Google Maps for high volume generic search terms and for variations on the MapQuest brand name," Hopkins says. The giant is also paying for more map-based traffic. "In the past four weeks, 23.31% of Google Maps' search traffic was paid compared to 12.19% for MapQuest," she says.

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