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Facebook vs Google referrals: Guardian case study

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


In February, Facebook drove more traffic to the Guardian web site than Google did, according to The Guardian UK. Their director for digital development Tanya Corduroy was speaking at the Changing Medias Summit Conference.

Eighteen months ago, search represented 40% of the Guardian's traffic and social represented just 2%. Six months ago – before the launch of their Facebook app - these figures had barely moved.

But last month, she said, they had felt a 'seismic shift' in their referral traffic. For the first time in their history, Facebook drove more traffic to than Google for a number of days, accounting for more than 30% of referrer traffic. The point was illustrated with the graph above showing the crossing of the two traffic lines, although the Facebook referrals now appear to be receding.

This is obviously a great achievement for the team who created the Facebook app. Overall, The Guardian's relentless pursuit of digital innovation is paying off. Its last month traffic stats are staggering: more than 4 million unique browsers (+64% vs. Feb 2011) and almost 70 million unique browsers monthly (+76% vs. Feb 2011). As for its mobile site, that's growing at a year-to-year rate of 182%, with 640,000 unique browsers a month.

The Guardian Facebook App played a critical role in this rise in traffic. Over the last five months, 8 million people downloaded it and 40,000 are signing up every day, according to Tanya Cordrey.


Extract of article by Frédéric Filloux,