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How Yahoo! Topped Google in Web Visitor Rankings

Paul Ausick

After five years at the top of the heap, Google Inc. (GOOG) has relinquished its top spot in comScore Inc.’s (SCOR) ranking of the top 50 U.S. Web properties. The new leader is Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) in what can only be called a stunning upset.

The comScore rankings are based unique visitors to all the sites owned by a brand. Yahoo’s climb in July from about 189 million uniques in June to more than 196 million in July topped Google’s slight decline of about 250,000 unique visitors.

More interesting perhaps, is where the million additional visitors might have come from. The total number of unique visitors grew by about 1 million, from 224 million to 225 million. Among the top five properties the big loser was Facebook Inc. (FB), which dropped from about 144.7 million uniques in June to 142.3 million in July. Sites owned by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) gained about 4.6 million to 179.6 million uniques in July, and AOL Inc. (AOL) gained about 4 million to 117.4 million total unique visitors in July.

The dramatic increase in Yahoo!’s traffic may be due to its May acquisition of Tumblr.com, but it is not clear what portion of Tumblr traffic is being counted for Yahoo! At least since March comScore’s ranking of Tumblr includes the cryptic footnote, “Entity has assigned some portion of traffic to other syndicated entities.” What that means is left up to the imagination.

Tumblr had 29.3 million unique footnoted visitors in March and 38.4 million in July. The July total is 2.6 million higher than the June number, so it is not a stretch to assign more visitors to those other entities.

The rankings are worth more than just bragging rights too. Yahoo! has taken over the top spot in comScore’s Ad Focus rankings as well with an 87.2% reach. That means that a page owned by a Yahoo! site was viewed by 87.2% of the 225 million total Web visitors in July. That is well ahead of Google’s 80.6% reach. And that translates into higher ad rates and more revenue for Yahoo!

Shares of Yahoo! are up 2.2% in early trading Thursday morning, at $27.65 in a 52-week range of $14.59 to $29.83.