Facebook Beats Google – for a Week at Least

Google is facing some pretty tough competition, and not from Yahoo! or Bing either.  The search engine giant was surpassed in traffic this week by social media site, Facebook for the first time. The week ending March 13, 2010 saw Facebook taking 7.07 percent of all internet traffic in the US.

Google was close behind at 7.03 percent, reports Hitwise. (This figure does not include traffic from Google Maps or other Google programs.)

Experian Hitwise, which measures internet usage for 25 million people worldwide, reported that Facebook has “been on a steady march for a while, on their way to becoming the top site.”  Between the months of September and February, the SNS added 100 million users, bringing Facebook’s total to more than 400 million.  Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang says, “The key trend to think about here is people are spending more time talking to and interacting with each other.  This does impact Google because people may be making decisions by listening and talking to each other rather than using traditional search avenues.”

Additionally, when users are referred to news sites by Facebook, they are more likely to return to that site and remain loyal than are those directed by Google.

But some experts wonder what this means for search marketing, and a few conclude it doesn’t mean much.  According to SearchNewz, “Social Media Marketing, like SEO, is a tactics. However, if the tactics does not translate into more business, then it’s a waste of time.  If we were to ask how does having a higher number of followers, or people claiming to be followers, result in more business? How many of those followers are really engaging with you?”

In other words, if a site is trying to gain awareness, promote dialogue, or build links, social media and SEO are immensely effective.  But if the bottom line is business and sales, social network sites like Facebook are most often not the best environment to try to spread your message.

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