Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Facebook hits top Google: study

AFP, NEW YORK

Facebook stole the thunder from Google this year as the most-visited Web site in the US, according to a new study from Internet research firm Experian Hitwise.

The social-networking juggernaut’s www.facebook.com was the top-visited Web site for the first time and accounted for 8.93 percent of all US visits between January and November last year, Experian Hitwise said.

Google, the world’s Internet search leader, slid to second place. Google.com drew 7.19 percent of visits, followed by Yahoo Mail (3.52 percent), Yahoo! (3.30 percent) and YouTube (2.65 percent).

Facebook led Google in the number of hits per month since March.

However, taking into account all of Google’s Web sites, such as YouTube and Gmail, the Mountain View, California-based company drew 9.85 percent of the US visits, ahead of Facebook’s 8.93 percent and the 8.12 percent garnered by Yahoo sites, an Experian Hitwise spokesman said on Friday.

Online tracking firm comScore last week ranked the Yahoo! family of Web sites as the most-visited in the US in November, ahead of Google, Microsoft Web sites and Facebook.

On a global scale, Google held the top position, followed by Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo, according to comScore.

However, analyst Greg Sterling of the specialist site SearchEngineLand.com cautioned that the Hitwise study does not track Web site visits via mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets, and the number of searches on Google’s Chrome browser, which avoids google.com, was uncertain.

“This is right now more symbolic than anything” to see Facebook overtake Google in the US, Sterling said, adding that the study confirms “Facebook growth has been dramatic.”

The social-networking giant has more than 500 million active users per month in the world, and according to comScore attracted 647.5 million unique visits in November, a jump of 48 percent from a year ago.

Sterling highlighted the sharply different approaches between Google and Facebook.

“Google is a very utilitarian site, where people go to make a decision, whereas Facebook is for entertainment,” he said.

But if Facebook “were to concentrate on search, they could do something that stands to really hurt Google.”

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