Year-end data just released from Experian Hitwise indicates that Facebook was the most-visited website in the U.S. in 2010, surpassing longtime holder of the top spot, Google. Hitwise previously reported that Facebook's monthly traffic had overtaken that of Google back in March, but this is the first time the social networking site can be pronounced the winner for an entire year.
Or can it?
Google sites, the network that includes No. 2 Google and No. 5 YouTube and many others, remains the cumulative winner with 9.85 percent of all Web visits in 2010. Facebook was second overall with 8.93 percent, followed by Yahoo sites with 8.12 percent.
But Facebook.com was the most-visited Web page between January 1 and November 30, followed by Google.com, Mail.yahoo.com, Yahoo.com and YouTube.com. Adding insult to injury over at the Googleplex today is the fact that Facebook was also the year's No. 1 search term in 2010, meaning that much of the traffic Facebook enjoyed on its way to this milestone came to the site by way of its fiercest competitor.
The actual meaning of the new rankings in terms of search vs. social as it relates to marketers and Web business is a matter of debate, but one thing is certain from the latest statistics. The 10 most-visited websites in the U.S. accounted for more than one-third of the overall traffic in 2010, gaining 33 percent of the year's total visits.
That number represents a 12-percent increase over 2009, which may cast a shadow on predictions about the rise of local commerce and the emergence of small businesses on the Web. The data clearly indicates that the gap is widening between a handful of giant properties and the rest of the commercial Web. But by the same token, most small Web businesses owe much of their success if not their very existence to Google and Facebook.
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