Friday, January 11, 2008

Google Maps Closing In On MapQuest

More Americans view more maps online now than they did a year ago, and Google Maps has gained popularity to narrow MapQuest's lead as the most popular mapping Web site, according to a company that analyzes Web traffic.

Hitwise VP of research Heather Hopkins said she had heard that increased reliance on GPS may have cut traffic to Web sites offering maps and directions and decided to find out if that was true. Her research showed that U.S. visits to mapping Web sites increased 10% overall in the last year or so. MapQuest receives most of the visits, but Google Maps is catching up.

Last year, MapQuest drew 429% more U.S. visits than Google Maps. Last week, it drew 126% more. Yahoo Maps and Local Live (MSN) ranked behind Google Maps in third and fourth place, Hopkins said.

MapQuest traffic remained flat this year compared with last and dropped 20% over the last six months, while Google Maps rose 135% year over year and grew 7% in the last six months, Hitwise research found.

Hopkins pointed out that in March, Google's search engine began sending more of its traffic to its own map application than MapQuest.

"This can't really be attributed to an increase in consumers looking for Google Maps," Hopkins said in her blog. "We can measure this through Internet searches."

Hopkins found that although more people search for "google maps," the term "mapquest" gets about 10 times as many search queries.

"I am sure many will jump to the conclusion that Google is favoring its own property," Hopkins said in her blog post. "I can't say whether that's true but I can say that Google Maps is receiving more of its traffic from paid-for search listings than MapQuest. In the past four weeks. Google Maps received 19% of its search traffic from paid listings compared with 10% for MapQuest."

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