Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Facebook gets more hits than Google in USA

It has been widely reported that last week, in the USA, Facebook got slightly more hits on their site than the main Google page. Facebook received 7.07% of all web site visits, slightly ahead of Google's 7.03%.

These figures show the amazing strength of both brands, but the trend would appear to be away from using Google as the "Front Page" for a browser, in favour of Facebook. Whereas in the past many people have wished to see Google, or another search engine, as the first page they hit, it would seem that they may now have decided that Facebook is their favoured initial destination.

A web user would wish to go to Google first if they were unsure which web site they wished to visit and needed to search for it, or if they simply wanted the option of opening with Google before going to a "Favourite" page. These stats suggest that many users now realise that they want to go to Facebook first.

This is important for Google, who will shortly face additional, and severe, competition from Microsoft's search engine - the badly named "Bing". In the UK Microsoft has already launched a £multi-million marketing campaign to promote Bing, as viewers of The Simpsons may have noticed.

Such competition should be good news for users, of course, but could be bad news for businesses. If you have used Google Ads in the past you may now need to start using Facebook and Bing advertising as well. Google and Microsoft both have extremely large cash cows to feed, which is likely to mean that they are reluctant to lower advertising prices, despite this increased competitiveness. Facebook is a much more streamlined outfit, but could well be tempted down the Google / Micro$oft route of trying to be all things to all men, (and women).

On the point of Facebook, (and I'm sure there is a point to Facebook), users would be well advised to check their "Privacy" settings. The default settings were recently drastically reduced by Facebook, so that most information you have posted about yourself can now be found on search engines. You may not want your private details such as email address, date of birth etc., shared across the Internet.

To check your settings open your Facebook page, click "Account" in the top right hand corner of the page, click "Privacy Settings" and start wading through the various options. You should definitely remove the tick from "Public search results - Allow" to keep some of your details away from the search engines. In "Contact Information" ensure that your email address is only visible to you.

Now, get back to work - and close down that Facebook page you've got open in the background!

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