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Could Facebook Be Bigger Than Google? Social vs. Search?

by admin on June 25, 2010

Hitwise recently reported that social networks in general are more popular than search engines in some parts of the world. We’ve all heard that YouTube is one of the largest search engines, but could social media sites really grow bigger than search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo?

Well, Facebook has been pushing hard against the biggest names in web search, including Google, for several months now. Hitwise reported that Facebook’s overall web traffic was ahead of Google’s for the first time in the U.S. for the week of March 15th, 2010. The market share increased 185% as compared to the same week in 2009 while Google’s traffic increased by only 9% during the same time frame. Facebook and Google combined accounted for an impressive 14% of all US internet visits during the week.

It is now being reported that in the UK people are visiting social networks more than they’re visiting search engines. Facebook continues to dominate the current list of social networks, accounting for a 55% majority (source: Mashable.com) of all social site visits. When compared to the internet at large, Google gets around 9.3% of all web traffic, while Facebook captures just over 7% (source: Mashable.com).

When stats for all search engines in the UK were compared to those for all social sites, social networks attracted .55% more traffic than search engines. This is the first time we’ve seen percentages like this. However, the charts below look like this trend is only just beginning.

When we look at the above chart from Hitwise, and the one below from Alexa, we can see that global page views for Facebook and Google; we can clearly see that Facebook is still on the rise.

This is not to say that social networks like Facebook are posing an immediate threat to search engines in terms of their core functionality (organizing the web and helping viewers find content) they do pose a large threat to search engines’ largest revenue source – advertising. Many advertisers tout Facebook ads as being the best way to reach a specific, very targeted, group. Some claim that Facebook ads can generate higher revenues than Google or Bing ads because they can be so targeted.

Social media is great but generally speaking it’s not the tactic that’s going to get you the best ROI—for most it’s a distracting shiny new car. The biggest difference between search and social that we see is timing. Search is pull marketing that is presented to you when you are ready to buy or interested in finding a solution. Social is convincing because it’s your friends referring services or products to you but that’s still push marketing—it’s just pushed to you from friends instead of impersonal billboards and talkative strangers. Social media is great for attracting early adopters and building another channel for communication but it hasn’t proven the ROI on as consistent a basis as SEO has. Plus once you have your SEO in place then setting up and running your social media marketing campaign is much easier. Rand Fishkin also adds some sound SEO benefits that social can’t including: “Answer a direct need precisely when it’s requested in a scalable fashion; Gain visibility from virtually all Internet users with an interest in your brand/product/sector/content at once.”

We want to hear what you think! Should Google be worried? Are search engines on the decline? Is the Facebook trend simply that, a trend that will be here today and gone tomorrow? Is it too soon to tell? Let’s hear what you have to say, send us an email at Contact@BLineMarketing.com or drop us a line on (yep, that’s right) Facebook.com/BLineMarketing.

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