Government Sites Surge in Popularity
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The possibility of a war, a space tragedy and the inevitability of taxes drove a 26 percent increase in government website traffic from December through February. In February alone, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, more than one-third of all Internet users visited a government site.
Taken as one brand, U.S. government websites, which attracted 44.8 million unique visitors, ranked fourth in overall traffic in February behind traditional leaders AOL Time Warner (89.8 million), MSN (89.1 million) and Yahoo! (80.7 million). Collectively, government site traffic finished ahead of Google (40.3 million) and eBay (36.6 million).
Leading the growth in government traffic was the U.S. Department of Treasury, which experienced a 147 percent spurt from December to February with nearly 11.8 million unique visitors. NASA was second in growth with a 124 percent jump in traffic to 5.2 million visitors.
The Department of Defense site, with 8.3 million visitors, attracted 50 percent more visitors in February and was the second most visited site after the Treasury Department.
"The U.S. federal government has built a strong presence on the Internet, and in recent months national and world events such as homeland security, Middle East issues, the shuttle tragedy and tax season have significantly increased the traffic to many of its departmental sites," said Greg Bloom, senior Internet analyst at Neilsen/NetRatings.
Behind Treasury and NASA, the other top ten government sites in percentage growth were Education (93 percent), Executive Branch (80 percent), State (80 percent), FirstGov (78 percent), Labor (68 percent), CIA (64 percent), Energy (63 percent), and Archives and Records (53 percent).