More NewsFacebook Visits Surpass Google, But What Does It Really Mean?

Facebook Visits Surpass Google, But What Does It Really Mean?

Facebook tops Google in U.S. visits according to Hitwise, but that says little about its position relative to other online firms.

Facebook.com overtook Google.com as the most visited domain in the U.S. last week, according to data from Experian Hitwise. In a blog post, research director Heather Doughty said the social network accounted for 7.07 percent of all U.S. visits for the week ending March 13th, compared with a 7.03 percent share for Google.com.

Though those numbers are encouraging for Facebook, they bear little relevance to the relative health of the two companies’ businesses, since they essentially compare two specific products.

For example, Google has a number of properties and revenue streams besides its core search site located at Google.com, including services such as Gmail and its market-leading video site YouTube. According to Hitwise, YouTube itself racked up 2.14 percent of visits during that period, which when combined with traffic for Google.com would surpass Facebook.com’s traffic by far, accounting for over 9 percent of all U.S. visits.

Perhaps more important, the data does not include traffic from search functions within browsers or toolbars, which accounts for a substantial portion of Google.com’s search engine use. In addition, although Facebook.com remains the primary access point to the social network, use of its mobile site and Facebook connect interfaces is growing.

In terms of revenue implications, Google also has numerous revenue streams in addition to its search product, including its content and display advertising networks, cloud-based software services, and even mobile handsets.

Behind Facebook and Google, Hitwise placed Yahoo.com and Yahoo’s mail product third and fourth in its weekly ranking, while its search product came in 9th. Combined, traffic for those properties would also have topped traffic to Facebook, accounting for 8.7 percent of visits overall.

Another factor to note is that this data is for overall U.S. visits, not unique visitors. It does not, therefore, demonstrate the relative reach of the sites tracked.

Most Popular Websites in All Categories ranked by Visits – Week ending March 13, 2010
Website Domain Visits (%)
Facebook www.facebook.com 7.07
Google www.google.com 7.03
Yahoo Mail mail.yahoo.com 3.80
Yahoo www.yahoo.com 3.67
YouTube www.youtube.com 2.14
MySpace www.myspace.com 2.00
msn www.msn.com 1.82
Windows Live Mail mail.live.com 1.63
Yahoo Search search.yahoo.com 1.23
Bing www.bing.com 1.09
Source: Experian Hitwise

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