24 Comments

Summary:

Analysis from Compete shows that Facebook is driving more traffic to major portal sites than Google, and has become a top source for other web sites as well, another sign of how important the social web is becoming in terms of Internet traffic flows.

Facebook is now the top source of traffic for major news and entertainment portals such as Yahoo and MSN, according to traffic analysis firm Compete, and is “among the leaders” for other sites as well. Although far from conclusive, this is just another sign of how the “social web” is becoming an increasingly dominant force in terms of driving traffic flows on the Internet — and that in turn makes it a growing threat for major web players such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. If your core business depends on controlling and/or getting a piece of the web’s traffic flow, as it does for all of those companies, the social web is something you ignore at your peril (which helps explain the launch of new services like Google Buzz).

Compete’s director of online media and search told the San Francisco Chronicle that a snapshot of web traffic from December showed 13 percent of the traffic to major web portals like Yahoo, MSN and AOL came from Facebook. Traffic from Google generated just 7 percent, which Compete said actually put it third in traffic sources behind eBay, which accounted for 7.6 percent.

It’s important to note that Compete’s analysis is just another data point, and probably shouldn’t be taken as definitive. The jockeying for top spot as the web’s No. 1 traffic source has been going on for some time, and every measurement firm has its own numbers, which often conflict with each other because of differences in their methods. But there’s no question about the overall trend: Facebook has been growing strongly in terms of overall traffic to the site and the traffic that it drives to other sites.

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital says that he sees Facebook becoming an increasingly powerful competitor to Google. “I see Facebook starting to look more like Google while Google tries and stumbles at becoming more social,” he writes. “Social networking is here to stay. It’s where attention spirals are flowing and no one looms larger than Facebook. 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.”

Billionaire entrepreneur and sports team owner Mark Cuban noted a similar phenomenon in a blog post last year, saying the traffic coming to his blog from Facebook and Twitter was increasing while the traffic flow from Google was “declining significantly.” He called this phenomenon “huge, because of the behavior implications for users, and because of the business implications for Twitter, Facebook and Google.”

It’s worth pointing out that while Facebook may be driving more traffic to portal sites and to blogs — particularly those like Perez Hilton, which gets far more referrals from the social network than it does from Google, according to Hitwise — that doesn’t mean it’s going to replace Google any time soon. And Google, along with Microsoft and Yahoo, is doing its best to integrate social web content from Twitter and Facebook into search results, through indexing arrangements with those sites. But the balance of power is definitely shifting.

Related posts from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Why Google Should Fear The Social Web

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user 27147

  1. When you are referring to Google, are you also referring to YouTube as well. Facebook is clearly a big player, but I don’t think they’ve caught up to Google in terms of overall traffic. However, in terms of single-domain traffic, Facebook appears to be dominant.

    Share
  2. Facebook may be bringing some traffic, but the traffic is very low quality. Nothing that we do that involves facebook gets any serious traffic from it. Why?

    Because sharing content on facebook generally means orphaning your video or images there, no one has to leave to watch or view it, and many times the headline and a snippet to a news story is enough of a bite.

    Share
  3. [...] de entretenimiento como Yahoo o MSN, según la compañía de análisis Compete y que recoge GigaOm. Estos datos se deben tomar con cierta cautela, sobre todo fuera del mercado estadounidense, pero a [...]

    Share
  4. How could eBay drive more traffic than Google does?

    Share
    1. Exactly! Something’s not quite right with these numbers. Highly misleading.

      Share
    2. good find

      Share
  5. This isn’t hard to believe. In fact, on my website Facebook and Twitter counts as the main drivers. I find Facebook traffic are more qualified than Twitter, probably because my Facebook connections know me better than Twitter.

    Share
  6. not hard to believe! :) waiting for You Tube, Twitter, and Facebook to merge into one site called YOU TWIT FACE…
    LOL!!! :)

    Share
  7. [...] Facebook Driving More Traffic Than Google – “Facebook is now the top source of traffic for major news and entertainment portals such as Yahoo and MSN, according to traffic analysis firm Compete, and is “among the leaders” for other sites as well. Although far from conclusive, this is just another sign of how the “social web” is becoming an increasingly dominant force in terms of driving traffic flows on the Internet — and that in turn makes it a growing threat for major web players such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. If your core business depends on controlling and/or getting a piece of the web’s traffic flow, as it does for all of those companies, the social web is something you ignore at your peril (which helps explain the launch of new services like Google Buzz)…” [...]

    Share
  8. The metric of how many times people go to facebook or any other site, (lets call this metric “footfall”) is extremely relevant. However, what is also relevant is “attention span” – a combination of time spent at that site and data traffic from that site. If I were an advertiser, I would look at both footfalls and attention spans – matches exactly with advertising strategies for the old media (reach and depth).

    Share
  9. Yeah, Facebook may have more traffic right now considering that they recently change there pages and make it more user friendly. But if over-all traffic to Google owned sites is considered, I don’t think Facebook overcomes that.

    Share
  10. [...] Facebook has surpassed Google (GOOG) as a traffic generator for some sites.  (GigaOM) [...]

    Share
  11. [...] referral site on the Internet. The “friend-casting” of information has helped propel Facebook into a major force in directing traffic around the Web according to traffic analysis firm Compete. This is just another sign of how the [...]

    Share
  12. I can only think of one reason why both Facebook and eBay would suddenly be driving more traffic than Google to portals – Google tweaked their search results and the portals are getting a lower ranking than they used to.

    Share
  13. I suspect Compete is trying to stir up more notice than warranted by its findings:

    First, it cites traffic sources for portals; I bet even “Don’t Be Evil” doesn’t bend over backward to send people to AOL and Yahoo, because Google has competing services and content (or can find the original AP story elsewhere).

    Second, Compete doesn’t see actual clicks from one site to another like Google Analytics and Urchin do; it just knows that someone in their panel was at FB before they were at Yahoo, not that they clicked from one to the other (Compete defines “Referral Reports” as “shows where users were before they came to a site.”) So someone whose surfing habit is to check, FB, then Yahoo! Mail, will appear to support Compete’s point even if FB had no links to Yahoo that day. And someone whose surfing habit is to check Google, then Yahoo! is probably rare!

    SEO and PPC, of course, affect Google referrals to the kind of non-portals we deal with. I’m trying to get clients to make a similar distinction in Facebook and Twitter traffic by tagging links they create on social nets. This lets Google Analytics see details on these de facto campaigns and correlate them with engagement and conversion. It also separates out “organic” social network referrals from users who Tweet or post their own links to a site.

    Sorry if my inaugural comment is too anti-Compete, I got burned using their referral data before!

    Share
  14. [...] The revolution is really gathering pace and beginning to gather so much momentum that it’s even making the mighty Google wobble. Facebook is making serious inroads into the search market by driving more traffic to major portals than Google. [...]

    Share
  15. [...] The revolution is really gathering pace and is gaining so much momentum that it’s even making the mighty Google wobble. Facebook is making serious inroads into the search market by driving more traffic to major portals than Google. [...]

    Share
  16. [...] Facebook Driving More Traffic Than Google (gigaom.com) [...]

    Share
  17. [...] point is that Facebook was already beginning to drive more traffic for certain types of sites than Google searches were – see this [...]

    Share
  18. [...] On Twitter, I read about topics I'm passionate about 90% of the time. On Facebook, I might see one or two interesting links per day: that's 10% of the attention I spend there, at most. 10% waste on Twitter, 90% waste on Facebook. This is why Twitter is on the way to becoming the future of news, while Facebook has yet to launch something convincing on that side, even if it sends a lot of traffic to news outlets thanks to link sharing. [...]

    Share
  19. [...] Note that in the image above, Facebook referrals to Groupon blow everything else out of the water. Makes it difficult to be a naysayer about Facebook’s ability to drive commerce. [...]

    Share
  20. [...] me how much time I can waste on twitter if I’m not careful. It’s not surprising that social media platforms surpassed google as the main driver to news portals last February; they’re addictive. Unless you’re [...]

    Share
  21. [...] has to be that people get more and more of what they need and want via social media.   There is that research from earlier in the year after all about Facebook now driving more traffic to major news and entertainment portals than [...]

    Share
  22. I haven’t really tried to use facebook yet to drive traffic to my website. Not sure how to go about it, but it seems as of late I am starting to get more direct hits and some google traffic. I like this article and will try some of what I have read about very soon.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post