A new report from SimilarWeb has revealed that mobile web browsing led to an overall increase in web traffic last year while desktop traffic continues to decline.

The web analytics company’s 2020 State of Digital Report was compiled using data gathered from January 2017 to December 2019 and desktop web traffic, mobile web traffic and Android app use were all tracked.

According to SimilarWeb, mobile web traffic has increased by 30.6 percent since 2017 while desktop traffic has decreased by 3.3 percent during the same time period. The company also found that mobile visitors behave differently from those on desktop as they tend to stay on pages for shorter periods of time.

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SimilarWeb’s report shows that last year’s total web traffic to the top 100 sites was up by eight percent when compared to 2018 and up by 11.8 percent over 2017.

Mobile vs desktop web traffic

While desktop web traffic has been declining, mobile web traffic continues to increase and users now prefer to visit sites that cover topics such as adult content, gambling, food and drink, pets and animals, health, community, sports and lifestyle on their smartphones. Over the years, other categories have also shifted to become more mobile including news and media, vehicle sites, travel, reference, finance and other.

However, news sites are losing traffic and SimilarWeb’s report found that traffic to the top 100 media publications is down by 5.3 percent year-over-year from 2018 to 2019 and down by seven percent since 2017.

The increase in mobile traffic has also helped the largest sites on the web grow bigger ad cement their position on the internet. The top 10 largest sites saw a total of 167.5bn monthly visits last year which is up by 10.7 percent compared to 2018.

Google saw increased traffic due to its decision to consolidate traffic to its main domain while YouTube also experienced significant growth. At the same time though, Facebook lost 8.6 percent of its traffic in just the past year alone.

The impact smartphones and our increasingly mobile lifestyles have had on web traffic is apparent from SimilarWeb’s report and this trend will likely continue in the coming years as more people rely on smartphones as their primary computing devices.