100 sculpture
Credit: By Jess on Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

Monthly traffic to the Guardian has passed the 100 million mark for this first time, according to figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC).

TheGuardian.com received more than 102 million unique monthly visitors in March, a 12 per cent increase on February, with coverage of the disappearance of flight MH370 and the Ukraine political crisis receiving the most traffic.

"March has been a fantastic month for us," Tanya Cordrey, Guardian News and Media's chief digital officer, told Journalism.co.uk. "It's been incredibly interesting to see the impact of our reporting of the missing Malaysian Airways flight MH370 on our traffic internationally."

According to a release accompanying the announcement, coverage of the MH370 flight reached 12 million unique browsers while the stories on Ukraine received 4.6 million browsers in March.

Total traffic increased by 30 per cent year-on-year, and Cordrey added that the launch of Guardian Australia last May has given the outlet the option of continuous coverage of global events for all time zones.

"Our evolving ability to cover global news stories through rolling liveblogs and up-to-the minute reporting from London to New York to Sydney and back again has been a key factor in driving traffic from across the globe," she said.

Members of the web team created a video to celebrate the traffic milestone.

The results add to a good week for the Guardian, awarded the Pulitzer Prize on Monday – shared with the Washington Post – for their coverage of the files leaked by Edward Snowden on NSA surveillance.

The Independent saw the most month-on-month growth in traffic to its site, with an increase of 24 per cent to just under 37 million unique monthly visitors in March, while the traffic to the Telegraph grew by 21 per cent to a little over 72 million.

Speaking at Newswork's Shift2014 conference last week, the Telegraph's editor-in-chief and and chief content officer, Jason Seiken, said the organisation is in "the midst of a transformation to being digitally-native in theory and practice".

Mirror Group Nationals also reached a new milestone for monthly unique visitors, recording more than 51 million in March, a monthly increase of 8.4 per cent. MailOnline recorded a similar monthly increase but to 179 million unique monthly visitors, maintaining its position as the most visited newspaper site audited by the ABC.

Web traffic figures for the Daily Star and The Express were reported for the second time, receiving 6.4 million and 9.5 million unique monthly visitors each, month-on-month increases of 10.5 and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Commuter titles Metro and the London Evening Standard were the only sites to record a drop in traffic, albeit small. Metro received 26.6 million unique monthly visitors, down 3.25 per cent on February, and the Evening Standard recorded traffic of 5.15 million, a decrease of 0.05 per cent.

Update: Christian Broughton, digital editor at The Independent, told Journalism.co.uk March had been a "strong month for news", with the Oscars, the disappearance of MH370 and the crisis in Ukraine all playing a large role in the outlet's 24 per cent increase in unique monthly visitors in March.

"You can have big news months when you don't prosper though," he said. "You can't just sit back and expect the audience to grow."

Broughton praised the digital team at The Independent for their "awareness of how to build an audience". While all stories remain true to the organisation's brand identity, he said, staff were astute in successfully promoting different stories on the homepage, through search or on social media platforms.

He also stressed the importance of forward planning around events, citing The Independent's coverage of the Oscars as drawing a record digital audience, but this has since broken by other stories throughout the month.

Additional reporting by Rachel Bartlett

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