NEW YORK: Major websites like Facebook and Yahoo continue to command the highest number of visitors worldwide, but several Chinese portals are catching up despite having not yet branched out overseas.

Google, the online giant, has released a list of the most popular websites across the globe in April 2010, excluding its own homepage and properties like YouTube.

Facebook received 540 million unique visitors in this period, which was equivalent to a reach of 35.2% and indicated the unparalleled growth it has experienced since first launching in 2004.

The world's biggest social network also recorded 570 billion page views in the fourth month of this year, well over ten times the number posted by any of the other services featured in the top 100.

Yahoo claimed second place in the rankings with 490 million users and 70 billion exposures, as well as boasting a penetration rate of 31.8%.

The firm's Japanese arm attracted a further 72 million netizens accessing 27 billion pages, demonstrating the statistical advantage Facebook gained simply by drawing all of its traffic to one address.

Wikipedia, the user-generated encyclopaedia, was in fourth on 310 million visitors, and was also the highest-ranked portal that did not run any form of advertising.

Microsoft's corporate hub featured alongside its MSN and Live offerings in the ten services that enjoyed the most interest, with a combined 880 million consumers logging on to these platforms.

The organisation's three primary internet properties reached 53.3 billion page views, supplemented by the total of 2.7 billion hits registered by the 110 million users of its "decision engine" Bing.

In the social networking category, Twitter's audience of 96 million people delivered 5.4 billion page views, totals that stood at 72 million and 27 billion respectively for MySpace.

Orkut, which is owned by Google and enjoys high levels of usage in countries such as India and Brazil, also posted 45 million unique visitors.

Hi5, which is prominent in Latin America, saw 34 million netizens browsing content and sending messages in April, with Chinese counterpart Renren on 31 million and Russian service VKontakte on 26 million.

Elsewhere, CNET was the most popular news provider with 55 million users, with the BBC on 45 million, China's Ifeng on 41 million, CNN on 34 million and the New York Times on 26 million.

Turning to online retail, the US operations of Amazon and eBay both played host to 74 million potential customers, although the latter site almost trebled the number of page views of the former, on 9.4 billion.

The potential scale of China's future trajectory in this area, was shown by the impressive headline scores of some of the country's largest sites despite the fact internet penetration currently stands at around 25%.

Baidu, the dominant search engine in the local market, saw 230 million people enter enquiries and look for information in April, generating a collective 70 billion impressions.

QQ, the email and instant messaging site, boasted 170 million users, with Sina, the news and entertainment portal, on 130 million and its rival on 98 million.

Some 98 million shoppers accessed Taobao, the premier ecommerce platform in the world's most populous nation, with this total only likely to expand in the future.

The growth of online video in China was also demonstrated by the fact 89 million viewers streamed clips on Youku, ahead of its main competitor Tudou, on 66 million.

Overall, 66 of the top 100 websites had formal advertising programmes in place at present, according to Google. To view the list in full, click here.

Data sourced from Google; additional content by Warc staff