SYDNEY: Google remains the most popular website in Australia, but Facebook and news portals are also increasingly attracting the attention of the country's online audience.

According to figures from research firm Roy Morgan, 71% of Australian netizens aged 14 years old or more utilised Google's search service during the last quarter of 2010.

This compared with 42% accessing Facebook, the social network, and 40% logging on to news property Ninemsn.

Communications giant Telstra posted 32%, followed by current affairs and entertainment platforms, securing 30%, Fairfax Digital, registering 29%, and Yahoo!7, hitting 24%.

Overall, search engines and news sites both lodged a 72% reach, suggesting that authoritative content can still drive major traffic levels.

"Four of the top ten sites are portals which are designed to meet the content need of Australian's on a variety of topics," said Andrew Braun, Roy Morgan's director, mobile, internet and technology.

"Surprisingly, they are as popular as Google in total, despite the competition from many niche content providers on the internet."

"This may indicate Australian's desire for familiarity and trust when choosing content to consume."

Elsewhere, the study reported that 72% of women use Google, falling to 70% concerning men, numbers standing at 47% and 38% respectively regarding Facebook.

"Not surprisingly, not all websites have the same visitor profile," Braun added.

"For marketers this means they need to understand the composition of the audience visiting a website when deciding upon their online advertising strategy."

Data sourced from B&T; additional content by Warc staff