According to new data from Hitwise, Google Maps is quickly and quietly gaining ground on the top-ranked map web site, MapQuest. MapQuest which is owned by AOL, had more than 429% (or 5x) the number of U.S.-based visits to Google Maps just one year ago. But now that lead has been cut significantly.
To date, MapQuest’s lead has now dropped to just 126% more visits than Google Maps, which ranks as the second most popular map site. In third was Yahoo Maps, and in fourth was MSN’s Local Live.
Furthermore, traffic to MapQuest year-over-year has remained flat year-over-year, and is down a scary 20% in just the past six months alone. Google, on the other hand, is up 135% over the same time last year, and up 7% in the past six months. An analyst at Hitwise attributed the growth at Google Maps to traffic from their search engine.
Another interesting fact is that Google sends more of its search engine traffic to Google Maps than to MapQuest, a logical move to bolster their own brand offerings. In addition, Google tends to send more traffic to their own Map service than to MapQuest through paid, sponsored advertising. Google Maps got 19% of its search traffic from paid listings, compared to just 10% at MapQuest.
While the brand MapQuest seems to have been imprinted on consumers’ brains as it has been around much longer on the web as a service, it looks like Google is using a little of their own marketing tactics to help begin erasing the association between Maps and Mapquest, skillfully changing it to Maps = Google. It will be interesting to see if a year from now Google has gained even more ground on MapQuest, as well to see if the current trends continue over the next few months.