February ABCe: Sun takes top position with 27.3m users

Sun Online overtook four of its rivals to become the most-visited national newspaper website in February, according to figures released today by ABCe.

The News International site, which was in fifth place in January, recorded a 118.2 per cent year-on-year increase in traffic to a record 27,327,957 unique users.

Sun Online editor Pete Picton told Press Gazette: “It’s a combination of things – great stories, great content, increased promotional activity and increased site optimisation.”

He said that the news, MySun and woman sections all had record traffic in February and that the site attracted strong traffic for its £9.50 European holidays promotion.

Picton said a large amount of the traffic growth was due to The Sun getting more referrals from other sites, in particular Digg and Delicious.

“If you’ve got great content, it’s being linked to by a lot more places than it was,” he added.

Telegraph.co.uk remained in second place with 26,169,362 unique users in February – up 113 per cent on the same period last year.

Telegraph Media Group digital editor Edward Roussel said the site benefited from “strong demand for our coverage of the financial crisis, the Oscars and Baftas”.

Guardian.co.uk slipped to third place. It recorded an audience of 25,331,083, down 15 per cent on the previous month but still up 30 per cent year on year.

Guardian News and Media director of digital content Emily Bell said: “As anticipated our global figures have dropped from January’s record-breaking success to 25.3 million, partly because this was a shorter month and partly because the international news agenda wasn’t so strong – no Obama effect for example.

“By contrast the celebrity agenda was very active and this may account for the overall increase in some of our competitors’ figures.

“Whatever the reason, the more competition the better, both for the industry and for our users.”

In fourth place, Times Online had 21,989,288 unique users in February, closely followed by Mail Online with 21,842,107.

Independent.co.uk fell back below the 10 million unique user mark in the short month of February, with an audience of 9,371,644.

The Mirror group of websites – including Mirror.co.uk and DailyRecord.co.uk – had a combined trafffic of 6,987,103 unique users in February, up 83 per cent on last year.

Trinity Mirror digital publishing director David Black said: “We are delighted with our year-on-year growth and by maintaining our focus on the UK we will continue to grow an engaged audience that benefits advertisers.”

National newspaper web traffic for February 2009 (all percentages are year-on-year)
Sun Online – 27,327,957 (up 118.15%)
Telegraph.co.uk – 26,169,362 (up 113.04%)
Guardian.co.uk – 25,331,083 (up 29.77%)
Times Online – 21,989,288 (up 51.93%)
Mail Online – 21,842,107 (up 28.22%)
Independent.co.uk – 9,371,644 (up 103.51%)
Mirror Group – 6,987,103 (up 83%)

UK unique users (as a percentage of total traffic)
Guardian.co.uk – 10,221,468 (40.4%)
Telegraph.co.uk – 9,226,711 (35.3%)
Sun Online – 8,281,121 (30.3%)
Times Online – 7,727,897 (35.1%)
Mail Online – 6,882,848 (31.5%)
Independent.co.uk – 3,989,910 (42.6%)
Mirror Group – 3,644,153 (52.2%)

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