Content is still king

by Toby Ward — Quick, what is the most read and used website on the planet? It’s not Google, it’s Yahoo!

What is the most read news website on the planet? It’s not Google News, it’s Yahoo! News.

Despite its position as media darling, Google trails is competitor (and advertising partner) Yahoo! in many respects. Not only does Yahoo! beat them on total aggregate traffic, but its news site has more than three times the traffic of Google News (35 million monthly, unique visitors compared to only 11 million). In fact, Google News sits in eighth spot, right behind the lowly Gannett Newspapers, and flounders with the lowest growth of all the top 10 news sites.

Perhaps a key reason for Google’s fledgling traffic status when compared to Yahoo! (though they are often rated as the second most used website on the planet so they’re still doing fine thank you very much) may be the nature of its websites. In short, Google lacks original content. Yahoo! not only compiles news from other sources, it also creates its own content with expert columnists.

Additionally, Yahoo! uses real humans to aggregate and promote news, while Google relies completely on computers. Google crawls news websites and compiles the news articles automatically. This automated, no human process doesn’t always work. Case in point: when news anchor Tim Russert died recently, the story quickly became the top news story on many sites, including the number two news site, MSNBC. The New York Times was quick to point out that Google News didn’t list it as a story until an hour after it broke on MSNBC (see At Google, Slow Growth in News Site).

But content is more than just static text, it also includes multimedia such as photos and videos. All of Yahoo!’s top features have links to video, compared to only two headlines on the first screen of Google News (from results at Noon PST, June 24, 2008) with links to video. Readers love video, and Yahoo! has understood this for some time. Google News is playing catch-up.

Speaking of video, while Google presently holds the second overall ranking on traffic behind Yahoo!, a couple of months ago it was supplanted by YouTube and bumped to third place. Social media sites representing ‘user generated content’ are also putting the heat on Google. Other social media sites in the top 10 most visited websites include MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia – all of which are gaining traffic faster than Google.

Yes, Google is still great, but content is still king.

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