ADOTAS – Finally, after all my grousing regarding Google’s slacking search due to the prevalence of content farms and SEO-gamed content, I have been vindicated with proof that Google’s search influence is on the decline!
AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka directed me to a report from Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney that shows that in January 2011, Google is the top traffic source for 74% of the hottest web properties — in particular, 100% of top travel sites, something I’m sure the U.S. Justice Department will note as it reviews Google’s acquisition of travel info software-maker ITA — and its referral share increased for 69% of web properties year over year.
Just not for media and health sites, where Google’s influence dropped for 80% and 40% of the sites Mahaney examined in those respective categories. As far as media sites, Mahaney doesn’t quite call it the Facebook effect (he notes that some data showed improved traffic share from Microsoft and Yahoo — with increased Facebook results integrated, look for Bing’s share to keep rising) but it’s obvious that the social network’s traffic driving prowess has improved between 2010 and 2011. Of course, comScore’s list of the top 50 visited properties is dominated by media sites.
Mahaney’s analysis plays into the trend that how Internet users find media is changing — earlier today, Facebook search led me to some great news stories about Rebecca Black so I could figure out what the fuss was all about. (Has it finally hit the masses that contemporary junk pop music can be made by 13-year-olds with a big-enough budget?) Because the web is gummed up with crappy content designed to reach the top of Google’s search results, users are looking to social recommendations for media, whether for time-wasting or actual information gathering.
However, the decline in health site referrals is quite fascinating — are more consumers getting frustrated with Google as a research tool? It will be interesting to see how those numbers change in a year… Or maybe just a few months.