Previous to the 2016 presidential election, it seemed that Breitbart articles were being shared to Twitter and Facebook in droves by critics of the Obama administration and by supporters of then-candidate and eventual President Donald Trump. In recent months, however, that influence has begun to wane according to Politico, whose analysis of Alex and comScore results indicates that the conservative site is experiencing something of an exodus of readership and social media shares.
Alexa – a long-standing institution of over two decades for web traffic metrics owned by Jeff Bezos’ Amazon – lists Breitbart’s current global rank (or placement of total unique visitors amongst all competing sites) as 317. Just three months ago Breitbart was ranked 273, suffering an apparent loss of 44 positions on the ladder in the last 90 days.
The news is even worse for Breitbart when using comScore as a tool for web traffic statistics. comScore produces a result of 6.4 million individual users having visited Breitbart for the month of May this year, in great contrast to having racked up 12.1 million unique impressions in May of 2017. An even greater number of visitors attended the site this past November, a high water mark for the embattled publisher, comScore delivering a result of 13.7 million hits.
Laying some of the blame at the feet of Google and their rather arbitrary and inscrutable changes to their search engine algorithm, Politico writer Jason Schwarz also seems to indicate that the departure of charismatic enigma and former Trump ally Steve Bannon has something to do with the poor numbers. Steve Bannon was ousted from his position as head of the right-leaning content publisher in January of this year, following a public split with President Trump and a hotly-debated round-table by the board members at Breitbart according to The Atlantic.
Breitbart has a long history of publishing public iconoclasts, from the trollish provocateur and former tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos who would later go on to become a self-published author with an Amazon bestseller in Dangerous and a slew of sold-out tours under his belt – to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, ex Editor-at-Large of Breitbart News and now head honcho behind competing site The Daily Wire (not to be confused with Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller, though both are conservative news outlets). Both men have large social media followings and are considered conservative influencers.
It is unclear whether Breitbart can find a new cultural critic with the charisma and right-wing bonafides to create a new star that will draw traffic back to them. The success of “personality based” political icons is clear and has been central to Andrew Breitbart’s vision for the publication from its inception in 2007.
Breitbart spokeswoman Alexandra Preate is quoted by Politico as offering a contrasting view to the traffic analytics on display from Alexa and comScore, and admittedly, these traffic indicators have been shown to be faulty before.
“Over the last month, our traffic is up in every metric we measure, from page views to unique readers to time on site to new readers,” she said.
However, when pressed to produce their own internal data on the matter, Breitbart did not respond to Politico.
The Hill, however, offers up a more substantial statement from a Breitbart spokesperson in their reportage, with the right-wing outlet rebuking their coverage by progressive publishers Politico.
“Breitbart is not a so-called alt-right website [as claimed by writers at Politico], but a conservative news website… Our internal traffic numbers are inconsistent with the comScore reports, and we have noted significant variance between their methodology and our numbers in the past… Amazon-owned Alexa [analytics] shows Breitbart.com as the 61st most-trafficked website in the United States, and an examination of their data for the last six months shows that traffic has been extremely consistent.”
“Politico, by means of comparison, is currently ranked in 235th place. Given that every source quoted in the Politico story is a long and frequent critic of Breitbart, we’re disappointed but not surprised at the lack of fairness and balance offered to Politico’s readers.”