Users Flock to Social Media That Now Includes Search Results, But Google Traffic Keeps Climbing
Google’s long-term hold on the number-one slot in the Alexa rankings and for overall web traffic could be threatened by Facebook’s continued market penetration, but the reality is Google is likely to maintain its number one ranking for at least a little while, in terms of overall web traffic and reach.
Facebook certainly has enjoyed a dramtic rise in traffic an reach in the past few years, most notably in the past two years. Of course, for the moment Google has far greater utility across a wide-range of applications that you just won’t find on Facebook. But that’s only for the moment.
What is quite curious is how Facebook has begun incorporating additional features to attract and hold visitors to the site. And the addition of Bing search results on FB is a powerful tool that keeps visitors from slipping the mouse to their browser’s search bar.
It is in this area Facebook does have a distinct advantage: Because of the very nature of a social networking platform, visitors are likely to stick around a bit longer. Adding additional features that keep the users attached to the website is just another way of protracting the visitor time on the site, which translates into greater face time with Facebook advertisers.
The numbers are pretty interesting. According to Alexa, Google’s average visitor spends about 12 minutes per day on the site. Google’s primary function, in terms of its search product, is to send you somewhere else. Facebook visitors, by contrast, spend an average of 32 minutes per day on the site.
With the addition of gaming apps, which are taking a lesson the MMOG world, users are hanging out even longer for their fill of Mafia Wars and Farmville. I am now in an online pillow fight with a niece in Virginia.
But in terms of raw visitors, Google and Facebook have been running, statistically, in a near dead heat where it concerns the increase in visitor traffic, at least over the past three months. On the other hand, Google has enjoyed twice the rate of increase of visitor time spent on the site. Of course, 10-percent of 100 is only 10. 11 percent of 1,000 is 110; so comparing based upon percentages does not provide a complete detail.
What is quite fascinating is examining the trend charts on Quantcast.com, which show Google’s visitor traffic has grown at a fairly steady pace over the past two years. But the pace of growth on Facebook has been meteoric! In February 2008, about the time I first heard of Facebook, there were approximately 35-million monthly visitors to FB. This is a very, very respectable number, for sure. Time, Inc.’s entire network generates roughly the same amount of traffic. For the same time period, Google was enjoying approximately 137-million visitors per month.
In December 2009, Google’s traffic was about 146-million visitors; Facebook enjoyed nearly 120-million. Well, that’s quite a transition, isn’t it?
Two years ago at this time, it would have been insane to name any website that might have a chance to overtake Google. Even one year ago, Facebook traffic was about 65-million monthly visits. Another 10-million visitors added to December’s traffic, they will have doubled their traffic.
So, I’ll be bold and go on the record now; whether anyone cares doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I believe Google has only a portion of 2010 to maintain it’s lead as the number one ranked website, in terms of traffic. But I’m not quite sure whether FB will overtake Google during the Summer or the Fall. Either way, Christmas will certainly be a merry time of year for Mark Zuckerberg, the face-masher, himself.
Of course, Google could stop posting all those status updates in it search results. But there’s the Bing thing, too.