Google: What, me worry?

Probably not. Hey, it’s Google, after all. Undoubtedly the most successful search engine in the world. So what in the world could possibly threaten the Google empire? The biggest competition doesn’t come from a search engine at all.

What is… Facebook??

OK, so it’s not direct competition in terms of core functionality, but still. It’s competing for consumers’ time and attention, and according to statistics from the UK, Facebook is winning.

Why should this even matter to Google?

Well, it’s all about the search engine’s main revenue source: advertising spend.

It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone who’s ever heard the phrase “social network” that Facebook is king of the status-phere. In the Hitwise study it collected 55% of all social site visits. Google beat Facebook in wider Web clicks overall, with 9.3% of total Web traffic to Facebook’s 7%. But when total Internet traffic was tabulated, social networks as a group won the race by a neck (or a few clicks!) with half of a percent more traffic than search engines – a first-time accomplishment for social networks.

But how many of the search engine “clicks” are really just home page lands that are immediately directed to other sites? I alone probably account for at least 20 Google “clicks” each day from simply opening up a new tab with Google set as my home page. I’m probably not the only one throwing off the data.

The graph shows this crucial intersection point in online traffic, but does it predict the future of the trend? It’s hard to say. It’s important to keep in mind the purpose and functionality of the respective sites. While visited often, search engines tend to only keep people’s attention until the desired answers are found. Facebook and social networks, on the other hand, have been described as “more sticky.” That is, it’s easy to keep them up and get sucked in.

So what do you think? Should Google be concerned about a little friendly competition?

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