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Pew: Google drives a third of traffic to online news sites

Google's search results remain the public's primary entry point into major online news sites, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

By examining audience statistics provided by The Nielsen Co., researchers found the search engine accounts on average for 30 percent of traffic at the nation's 25 most popular news websites. Direct visitors to the sites accounted for roughly 60 percent of total traffic.

Facebook was often the second-biggest driver of traffic, after Google, accounting for between 2 and 8 percent of traffic at some of the largest news sites, with that figure growing steadily. In contrast, Twitter accounted for less than 1 percent of traffic at most online news sites.

The Drudge Report remains a major driver of traffic for all but six of the sites surveyed. It ranked as the second- and third-biggest traffic driver for half the sites, beating Facebook, and accounts for more than 15 percent of the traffic at washingtonpost.com and nypost.com.

"In other words, the Drudge Report’s influence cuts across both traditional organizations such as ABC News to more tabloid style outlets such as the New York Post," the report states. "What’s more, Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic."