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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Internet users aren't searching for "Jewish dating" much these days. Nor are they looking for information on "anti-Semitism" on the Web. Many have stopped looking for "Jewish Schools" on Google.
Statistics such as these have come to light thanks to the August 2009 release of 4Wall LLC's Jewish Internet Metric Study, a project to help the Jewish community understand the hurdles and opportunities presented by the Internet.
Using a top-level look at the Jewish Web with the practices of the McKinsey consulting firm, 4Wall examined data from the United States from April-June 2009 to understand Web engagement, traffic, demographics, content architecture and market response.
The statistics demonstrated a harsh reality: a steady decline in search traffic for Jewish terms. The study analyzed 32 Jewish-related search terms and studied their current traffic volume and the change in traffic volume over the past four years.
The top five declining terms over the past for years include "Judaica"(-54%), "Reform Judaism" (-66%), "Anti-Semitism" (-74%), "Jewish Dating" (-85%) and "Kabbalah" (-87%).
The top five searches found were "Jewish," "Israel," "Holocaust," "Jerusalem" and "Kosher." Nevertheless, these terms now generate significantly less traffic than they did in the past four years.
The entire sample set of 32 terms drew an average decrease in search traffic of 25%, with only five search terms becoming more popular over the four year period. "Rosh Hashanah" traffic rose by 49%, "Chabad" rose by 21%, "Challah" rose by 16% "Matzah" rose by 10% and "Yom Kippur" rose by 9% since 2005.
4Wall and JInsider founder Mark Pearlman gave his explanation for the trends in a JTA August op-ed: "While many Jewish newspapers have grabbed for this lifeline [the Internet], the process has been hectic and uncoordinated. We may be trying to save ourselves, but we're floating around in private digital lifeboats, bailing water for dear life."
The bright side of the study, however, was its analysis of news-based sites and educational and informational sites.
The study showed that despite the decline of Jewish search terms, there was an overall rise in traffic to Jewish news, education and informational sites, with an impressive 62% increase in overall traffic to Jewish news sites within the past year. As reported in The Jerusalem Post in August, the Post was found to lead the competition by a ratio of 2:1 in Jewish markets.
To maintain an upward trend in Jewish news site traffic, Pearlman argued that Jewish organizations must learn how to work together.
"We encourage funders and media stakeholders to use this study as impetus to get together now. We may be concentrated on bailing water from our own leaky lifeboats, but together our lifeboats could make one watertight ship ready to steam us ahead," he said.