Yahoo Top News Site, Google Second; People Spending More Time With Fewer Sites

According to November comScore data (published by TechCrunch) Google News is the second largest online news property in the world in terms of traffic. Yahoo ranks as the top global news site. Here’s the partial comScore list:

  1. Yahoo News
  2. Google News
  3. New York Times sites
  4. CNN
  5. China’s QQ.com
  6. BBC
  7. MSN

In the US Yahoo still ranks as number one but Google News reportedly falls down the list below the traditional news domains, such as NY Times and CNN. However, over at Nielsen (via Editor & Publisher) the numbers appear to be quite different than the comScore data above — especially the ranking of Google News.

Here’s Nielsen’s list of the top global online news sites for November, 2009:

  1. Yahoo! News
  2. CNN Digital Network
  3. MSNBC Digital Network
  4. AOL News
  5. NYTimes.com
  6. Tribune Newspapers
  7. Google News
  8. Fox News Digital Network
  9. ABCNEWS Digital Network
  10. Gannett Newspapers and Newspaper Division
  11. Washingtonpost.com
  12. CBS News Digital Network
  13. McClatchy Newspaper Network
  14. Advance Internet
  15. TheHuffingtonPost.com
  16. USATODAY.com
  17. MediaNews Group Newspapers
  18. Hearst Newspapers Digital
  19. BBC
  20. Daily News (NY) Online Edition

Meanwhile here are Compete data showing, in the US, yet another slightly different ranking:

Below is how a US-only list of top news sites looked in 2004 (per Nielsen). Impressively the top four sites are the same then and now:

  1. Yahoo News
  2. CNN
  3. MSNBC
  4. AOL News
  5. Gannett
  6. IBS
  7. Knight Ridder Digital
  8. NY Times
  9. Tribune Newspapers
  10. USA Today

Separately Hitwise reports an interesting trend in Australia, which is probably consistent with user behavior in other markets: people spending more time with fewer sites. According to Hitwise:

We’re also seeing a greater concentration in visits to the top 10 websites . . . The top 10 websites accounted for 29% share of visits in November 2009, compared to 26.3% share of visits in November 2008. In other words, the ‘big’ players are getting bigger.

Despite the Internet being a vast universe of content activity is more and more concentrated at the top. How is this explained?

Is this a function of increasing visibility and activity around a small number of top sites? Is this a greater share of resources  concentrated among the big players? Is this culture? Certainly in the context of Google and news, it can refer traffic to its own site via search.

The trend is the same with ads: the top sites and networks capture the lion’s share of ad dollars according to the IAB.

Some have argued that news brands are fading (diluted by the way in which search “flattens” all news sources); however these lists above paint a somewhat different picture. There are a number of “aggregators” that people visit for convenience and breadth. Those include Yahoo, AOL, Google and, now, the HuffingtonPost. Otherwise these lists are dominated by traditional news media.

It would seem to me that brands do continue to matter very much in news; distribution in an online world dominated by search is their obvious challenge. But mobile publishing and distribution opens up new oppportunities for these traditional media sources. And they’re very aware of that, empahsizing smartphones (esp. the iPhone) and the emerging tablet/eReader universe.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Google: News | Google: Outside US | Search Engines: News Search Engines | Stats: Compete | Stats: comScore | Stats: Hitwise | Stats: NetRatings | Stats: Popularity | Yahoo: News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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