Heavy traffic travels to federal Web sites

Heavy traffic travels to federal Web sites

IRS.gov drew hits from 6.7 million visitors in February

BY SHAWN P. MCCARTHY | SPECIAL TO GCN

Federal Web sites attracted 1.3 percent more traffic in February than they did last February.

Market researcher Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. of New York reported that irs.gov was by far the most popular .gov site in February, with 6.7 million unique visitors.

In November, months before tax time, the IRS site had 1.05 million unique visitors, making it the 10th-most visited government site then.

February is historically the peak month for IRS traffic, a Media Metrix spokeswoman said.

Some users apparently linked to the tax site from other government addresses. The Treasury Department's site, at www.ustreas.gov, in February ranked fifth among government sites with 2.58 million unique visitors, up from 0.96 million in November. The treas.gov site, which resolves to the same address, ranked 15th with 1.05 million unique visitors, up from 0.88 million in November.

Open portal

Other visitors may have found their way to the tax site via the fedworld.gov portal, which ranked No. 2 with 4.6 million unique visitors. It ranked 12th in November.





How top government sites ranked in February


















































































Rank

Unique visitors

(in millions)
1    irs.gov6.70
2fedworld.gov4.60
3nasa.gov3.33
4ca.gov2.89
5ustreas.gov2.58
6nih.gov2.49
7ed.gov2.46
8noaa.gov2.20
9usgs.gov1.43
10navy.mil1.41
11loc.gov1.17
12whitehouse.gov1.09
13ssa.gov1.06
14state.tx.us1.06
15treas.gov1.05


The fact that people try different paths stresses the importance of a centralized information service such as the FirstGov portal, which has pointers to multiple federal sites. FirstGov had just 256,000 unique visitors, however, ranking 82nd among government sites in February.

Top state sites in February were California's ca.gov with 2.89 million unique visitors and Texas' state.tx.us, with 1.06 million.

Sweeps month

The overall top four sites in February were yahoo.com with 55.2 million unique visitors, msn.com with 49.4 million, aol.com with 36.1 million and lycos.com with 25.9 million. The top four news sites were msnbc.com with 10.3 million, cnn.com with 9.9 million, abcnews.go.com with 4.2 million and nytimes.com with 3.9 million.

But the Media Metrix spokeswomen also said government sites logged nearly 33 million unique visitors in February. These were mainly federal sites, with a sprinkling of state sites that operate under the .gov umbrella. This means that citizens are finding the government sites, even if they don't visit them as often as their favorite portals.

Strong in the Southwest

It's interesting that the highest-ranking state sites are those of California and Texas because these states have good penetration of computer ownership among the general population.

It's important to note that these are Media Metrix's own numbers, based on a sample of 60,000 users who agreed to have their data surfing habits tracked at home or at work. The data is then extrapolated to approximate the surfing habits of the entire Web.

There has been criticism among some portal sites that services such as Media Metrix do not accurately measure Web traffic, especially since they can look at their own server logs to note their real traffic.

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