Google is still the search king when it comes to online news, but Facebook is quickly, and almost quietly, becoming more influential, according to results of a study released Monday.
While Google still accounts for 30 percent of visitors for the top 24 news sites, Facebook accounts for a high of 8 percent for The Huffington Post and 5 percent for the New York Times in a new Pew Research Center study with Nielsen Co. statistics, GigaOm reported. However, if there is an article referral on Facebook, chances are it isn't coming from Google News, and vice-versa. (Twitter wasn't seen as a much of a traffic-driver, according to the study.)
The gist of the study is that Facebook referrals are growing and a social network may mean more repeat readers. Google News has no such social aspect and so is unlikely to grow past what it is today. This could explain the New York Times's contradictory new pay wall policy that also allows free views if referred to an article on Facebook -- the so-called "social loophole."
The study also mentions that many site visitors are rarely repeat visitors. Instead, they visit maybe once or twice a month. That's one of the reasons publishers are seeing the importance of their articles and content traded on Facebook and are making it easier to do so -- the same are visitors seeing and partaking of their content over and over again.