Google's Maps application is making headway against the number-one ranked map Web site Mapquest, according to an analyst from Hitwise, which examines Internet usage data.
A year ago, MapQuest, which is owned by AOL, had 429%, or more than five times the number of US visits to Google Maps, said Hitwise analyst Heather Hopkins in a blog post. Now, however, Mapquest's lead has dropped to 126% more visits than the number-two ranked Google Maps. Yahoo Maps ranked third and MSN's Local Live was fourth.
Hopkins said traffic to MapQuest is flat year over year and is down 20% in the past six months. Traffic to Google Maps, meanwhile, is up 135% from the same time last year and is up 7% in the past six months. She attributed the growth for Google Maps to traffic from Google's search engine.
In addition, Hopkins said despite the increase in the use of GPS systems, US visits to maps Web sites are up 10% from last year.
Google sends more of its own traffic to Google Maps than to Mapquest, a change that occurred last March, Hopkins said, but that doesn't account for the increase in consumers looking for Google Maps.
"We can measure this through Internet searches," Hopkins said in her blog. "Searches for 'google maps' have increased but the term 'mapquest' receives nearly 10 times the search volume."
Hopkins said Google is now sending more traffic to Google Maps for high-volume generic terms such as "map" and "driving directions" and for variations on the Mapquest brand name than it did last year.
"I am sure many will jump to the conclusion that Google is favoring its own property. I can't say whether that's true but I can say that Google Maps is receiving more of its traffic from paid search listings than MapQuest," Hopkins said in her blog. "In the past four weeks. Google Maps received 19% of its search traffic from paid listings compared with 10% for MapQuest."
Neither Google nor Mapquest could be reached for comment.