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Summary:

Search engines are losing share of users’ clicks. Analysts say they are going to Facebook and Twitter. What does that mean for the future of search?

Face in a magnifying glass
photo: Flickr / CJ Sorg

Consumers are increasingly finding the answers to their questions in social network services, not search engines.

Experian Hitwise data shows UK visits to major search engines dropped by 100 million through August, to 2.21 billion.

Whilst that can be partly attributed to a high watermark in the previous, Olympic month of July, the trend is also longer term – August search visits were also 40 million down year-on-year.

Asked if searchers’ time was moving to social, Hitwise told paidContent:

“Absolutely. This is a combination of both – Olympics and a pull to social which is seeing a shift in the way we search.

“The key thing here is the growing significance of social networks as a source of traffic to websites.

“Search is the still the number-one source of traffic, but social networks are growing as people increasingly navigate around the web via recommendations from Twitter, Facebook etc.”

Such a trend points to an opportunity for the likes of Facebook and Twitter, which have ambitions, respectively, to inject web search in to social and to curate real-time topics may seek out.

And it may suggest a negative for search engines Google and Bing, which have integrated Facebook and Google+ features in to their web search engines.

Google enjoys a mammoth 90.94 percent of UK searches, according to Hitwise.

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  1. Philip Wissbeck Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Better yet would be better indexing by the webmasters. Compression not expansion and no drop down menues that disappear.

  2. It is interesting to see a longer downward trend. As social sites such as Facebook, Path, or Twitter become even more ingrained into our daily lives I see more and more people posting questions, product recommendations and opinions there. You just don’t get that curated social information from Google search. Could you imagine if you could search iPhone5 in Facebook and see all your friends who have posted about it or even post with it?

  3. This is a trend that Alexander Halavais predicted in his 2008 book; ‘Search Engine Society’. Well worth a read (albeit now 4 years old)

  4. Reblogged this on Notes from the edge and commented:
    Don’t you just love the pace! Just when we thought we got SEO right…

  5. Just think how cool it is for us SEO types that are active on the ‘un-named’ Social network that seems to have very close ties to the main Search Engine… Ever heard of Google Plus?

    Google owns search, right?
    Google owns Google Plus, right?
    Working inside G+ allows your work to influence search inside social & Google.com… sounds like a smart place to be to me! You?

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