Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Navigating News Online

Google Drives Most Users

In the 40% of traffic that comes to top news sites from outside referrals, one player emerges as more important than all others. Together, Google Search and, to a lesser extent, Google News remain the biggest single driver of traffic to top news sites. On average the search engine was responsible for 30% of the traffic to these top news sites.  Indeed, it was the lead referring site for 17 of these major news sites and the second-ranked referring site for the other four.  



To legacy news sites with established prominent brands in their own right, Google was a less significant but still important source of audience. At these sites (which make up 15 of the top 21 sites for which there is referring data) Google represented an average of 28.4% of the traffic per site.

And that percentage was fairly consistent. came in at the low end (with 21.2%), and was at the high end (37%).


But Google is not the only way in which news content is discovered.


1. Email exchange between PEJ and Matthew Hindman, April 9, 2011.

2. “Google” as a referring site includes three Google products that send traffic to a site: Google Search, Google News and Google Maps.

3., partially owned by Microsoft and partially by NBC Universal (recently acquired by Comcast), associates itself with Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. Bing is the default search engine on

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