Facebook has risen over the last six months to challenge Google's place as the most important source of traffic to online publishers, according to data from BuzzFeed's broad sample of web referrals.
The data from BuzzFeed's first Social Intelligence Report, is drawn from the BuzzFeed Network, a set of sites reaching 300 million users a month, offer striking evidence of a tectonic shift in the shape of the Internet.
Facebook's challenge to Google, which accelerated with changes to the news feed, is part of the broader rise of social platforms as dominant drivers of traffic to publishers in the first half of 2012. Search engines — who drove publishers toward complex Search Engine Optimization techniques for half a decade — show little growth.
The data gathered for the Social Intelligence Report comes from BuzzFeed’s viral tracking system, which is deployed on partners’ sites. BuzzFeed’s partners are a broad mix of small and large news properties from small and large news properties such as Time, The Daily Mail, Funny or Die, and TMZ.