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Blog sites boosted by increase in visitor numbers

LONDON - One in every 200 web visits are to blog websites, according to new research highlighting the growing importance of bloggers.

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The research, from online monitoring firm Hitwise, says that the figures represents a 130% increase over the last year, with MSN and LiveJournal dominating recent sites visited.

The site with the biggest growth is blog.myspace.com, which has seen a 500% increase in visits since it was first tracked by Hitwise last September, taking it to fourth spot.

The Google-owned Blogger has also seen major growth. The two sites offer free webspace to bloggers who can create their online diaries for free. 

According to Hitwise, blog.myspace.com has also done well in attracting the coveted 18-24 age group, which makes up a third of its visitors.

Myspace was acquired by News Corporation for $580m (£330m) earlier this month, giving Rupert Murdoch control of the fifth most-popular portal in terms of page views in the US.

The importance of bloggers has steadily grown in terms of editorial and marketing.

Bloggers are increasingly breaking stories before the mainstream media or being used to exert pressure on the mainstream media. Recently stories by bloggers led to the saking of Dilpazier Aslam, a radical Muslim who was a trainee journalist at The Guardian, after he was revealed to be a member of an anti-Semitic Islamic party Hizb'ut Tahrir.

Labour toyed with blogging at the last general election, but in the US the role of bloggers in the presidential election was much more forceful.

The involvement of blogging in marketing has taken a step up after Microsoft recently announced it was recruiting a team of bloggers to help generate a buzz for the next generation of its Windows operating system.

In the UK, Carat Interactive recently introduced a customised advertising service to help companies engage their audience using blogging.

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