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'Web 2.0' sites see traffic explosion

A moveable feast...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

A moveable feast...

Websites that offer users the chance to express themselves - whether by sharing their latest home videos or editing encyclopedia entries on obscure Japanese anime - are reaping the rewards in spades, research has found.

Sites championing user-generated content have seen a significant leap in traffic on the year ago period, according to statistics from research company comScore - and several are now among the top 50 UK web property rankings.

The Wikipedia network, which includes an online encyclopedia and dictionary written and edited entirely by users, has jumped from being the 78th most visited UK website in July 2005 to 16th a year later - a traffic increase of 253 per cent. This makes the Wikipedia family the most popular incarnation of the user-generated cadre, racking up 6.5 million visitors as of July this year.

Other sites crashing into the UK top 50 on the back of users' hard graft include News Corp-owned social-networking giant MySpace.com (with an increase of 467 per cent to 5.2 million visitors), video-sharing upstart YouTube.com - which officially launched in December 2005 but has already garnered 3.9 million visitors - and teen favourite Bebo.com (up 328 per cent to 3.9 million visitors).

Visitors to web 2.0 sites are not only arriving in droves but staying for several drinks, according to comScore.

Collectively the leading user-generated content sites draw more frequent visits than sites that create their own content, and their visitors also stay for longer and view more pages, the research found. Social networking sites in particular get a lot of face time from users.

Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe, said many of the websites currently seeing the fastest rates of growth are those that tap into their audience's need for self-expression, which in turn encourages others to join the party. "It is the classic network effect at work," he said in a statement.

The three most visited websites in the UK are Google UK, Yahoo! and eBay UK, according to site traffic monitoring company Alexa.

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