Saturday, February 20, 2010

Facebook Now Drives More Traffic to Key Sites Than Google

Facebook Now Drives More Traffic to Key Sites Than Google

UPDATE: A couple of notes to clarify this post. First, the chart above, which I pulled from, shows the top sites that Facebook drives traffic to. Also the headline has been updated to reflect that Facebook is driving more traffic to portals than Google. The San Francisco Chronicle story, linked below, notes that Facebook is only starting to encroach on Google for other sites. The trend, however, still holds.

We're at the beginning of a major shift in how we find, consume and interact with information. If the 2000s was the Google decade, then the 2010s will be the Facebook decade. Already, you can see the writing on the wall - pun intended. Case in point: a search for "google decade danny sullivan" pulls up his Facebook note higher than a blog post (an item I wanted to include here for context). But that's nothing. Look at the data.

According to new stats from Facebook is becoming the web's top source of traffic (link via Jeremiah Owyang on where else, Facebook). The image above is a snapshot I pulled from It shows where Facebook is sending traffic...

"According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites.

This trend is shifting the way Web site operators approach online marketing, even as Google takes steps to move into the social-media world.

Some experts say social media could become the Internet's next search engine."

That last line is key. I see Facebook starting to look more like Google while Google tries and stumbles at becoming more social. Bing will start to play a central supporting role here. I see Facebook and Bing becoming an "Axis of FTW" that will disrupt Google on every front. (Microsoft is an Edelman client.)

You can already see it coming...
  • Titan/Facebook Chat will challenge Gmail in communications
  • Facebook pages will disrupt Google - especially if they were to integrate Bing Maps and location technology a la Foursquare. This can quickly position Facebook as the Web's Yellow Pages, an area that Google and Yelp currently dominate
  • Facebook will make search more social, allowing it to become annotated and curated. This up-ends Google's core business. It also makes the Facebook self-serve advertising model smarter and more effective as it collects more data about where it sends traffic. This threatens Adwords
Social networking is here to stay. It's where attention spirals are flowing and no one looms larger than Facebook. (Link sharing on Facebook rose 500% in six months.) And while Facebook has plenty of critics and they run into the occasional privacy concerns, I believe that they will dominate the landscape the next few years. In fact, I see them becoming the number one web site in the world in under three years. It could eat the web.

Now a lot could go wrong. It is possible that Facebook will become AOL the sequel. But I don't see it. There's no alternative and the more we put into Facebook the more value we gain from it. This is a different era where vertical integration (e.g. owning and controlling the whole experience) is a major plus, especially if it's elegant and simple. There's too much information and things vying for our attention today. This turns vertical integration and simplicity into a competitive advantage.

So what does this mean? I believe business web sites will become less important over time. They will be primarily transactional and/or for utility. Brands will shift more of their dollars and resources to creating robust presence where people already are and figure out how to activate employees en masse in a way that builds relationships and drives traffic back to their sites to complete transactions. Media companies will do the same - they will be "headless."

Google and search will remain important for years to come. However, what we're seeing is the beginning of big changes where social networking and Facebook will further disrupt advertising, media, one-to-one and one-to-many communications, not to mention search.

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