From the moment that Google Maps became Google Maps there has always been strong growth in the numbers of unique visitors. For period in from 2007-2009 it was growing at rates of 50 to 60% year over year. During that period it quickly passed Mapquest and Yahoo as the leading Mapping product. Often Google would increase traffic to Maps by changes to the main page of the results page.
According to Compete.com, things, at least for the .com desktop traffic, have changed dramatically. Google’s Maps has shown a mostly steady decline (despite a summer season uptick) for the last 11 months.
The reasons for a decline in desktop maps.google.com traffic is not totally clear. Certainly there has been a growth in the use of Maps via mobile Apps and we know that the Maps API provides a significant number of Map views across the greater web. But I doubt that either make up for the decline of 35% from the peak of 64,979 million visitors in Jul ’09 to 42,200 million visitors in June of this year. Current uniques visits have not been this low since July of 2008.
But the downturn in traffic has not just affected Google Maps. According to Heather Hopkins of Hitwise, in the broader category of desktop internet mapping products, visits to Mapping sites has declined across the board in relation to the rest of the internet.
Interestingly, it that appears that Google’s % of decline in unique visits is greater than that of Mapquest. This has resulted, at least on the desktop, in a virtual tie for the leading desktop Mapping product based on uniques. According to Hitwise total traffic to Google Maps exceeds Mapquest by 50% with Google holding a 51% to 31% edge in total traffic. This implies that even if uniques are close that engagement is much greater at Google.
Could increased mobile Map use be leading to a reduction desktop interaction? Perhaps there is less travel due to the poor economy or maybe user attention and visits are being diverted to the likes of Facebook? Have Universal Local results improved to the point that it is less necessary to penetrate the bowels of Maps?
I am curious why you think that mapping products have declined in general and why Maps has shown such a precipitous drop? Does it matter going forward or will mobile make up the slack?