Back in January, the online analytics company Compete estimated that Facebook attracted 133 million unique viewers in the US alone, a showing strong enough to boost Facebook over Yahoo in the Great American Traffic Race. Now, there is evidence that for one week in February, Facebook temporarily unseated even Google, long the most popular site in the US.
According to Hitwise, an NYC-based tracking firm, Facebook soaked up 7.07 percent of all US Internet activity for the week ending March 13. By comparison, Google registered 7.03 percent of the market. Hitwise analyst Heather Dougherty wrote in a blog post today that Facebook had previously topped Google on a handful of prior occasions, including last Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
The news is obviously good for Facebook, which has seen its market share increase 185 percent since the same time last year. No longer is Facebook a simple social network. Instead, it has positioned itself as a major online hub – and it poses some legitimate challenges to Google's dominance. Facebook, for instance, has made great strides in real-time search, in some ways besting similar efforts from Google.
Still, as Sam Gustin at Daily Finance points out, Facebook isn't likely to snuff out Google anytime soon, no matter how much Facebook traffic soars.
"Of course, it's important to put these traffic numbers and charts into context," Gustin writes. "Google is a giant, $130 billion public company with a fantastically profitable business model that churns out $23 billion in annual sales. Facebook, though huge, is still a start-up in search of a sustainable business model that can justify its current valuation, which is estimated to be anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion."
We want to hear from you. Does Facebook pose a serious threat to Google? Are the numbers from Hitwise an anomaly? Drop us a line in the comments section.