PaidContent: where UK newspapers get their traffic

Here’s a turn-up for the books – the BBC is already the number-five giver of readers to UK commercial newspaper websites.

The BBC News site sent nearly two million unique visitors to the papers in April, and over 100,000 more clicked from other sites, according to the Newspaper Marketing Agency‘s own online analytics data.

That means it’s sending almost as many global readers as Microsoft’s Bing search and, amongst non-search sites, is the number-two referrer after Drudge Report. The BBC News site is contributing nearly 2.3 percent of the total unique visitors the sites get from their top 20 sources, the data shows. At home in the UK, the BBC is the top non-search referrer.

After years of criticism, and a stop-start approach to its Moreover-powered Newstracker module, which points readers to related news stories elsewhere, the BBC in March committed: “BBC Online will be transformed into a window on the web with, by 2012, an external link on every page and at least double the current rate of ‘click-throughs’ to external sites.”

On that promise, by April 2012, the BBC should be giving newspapers over four million unique visitors each month – more than even Yahoo does currently.

But it’s clear where the sites today are getting most of their readers – just under half come in from Google.

Some – most notably, Mirror Group Digital and News International – are trying to end this dependency by increasing the number of direct hits they get from loyal readers… respectively, by launching niche content sites and by closing off to non-paying readers and search crawlers.