If there's one thing that frustrates me, it's people who suggest that Google is losing it's grip on the Internet, especially when it comes as a result of Facebook. This weekend, The Sunday Times reported that Facebook tightened it's grip on the mighty Google - showing that this news has moved outside of the specialist media streams, and into the homes of the general public.
It's not the first time I've read such an article, but what makes this time a little different from previous occasions is that I feel compelled to set the record straight and make sure that people understand exactly what these figures mean to the future of the Internet.
Aren't Google and Facebook different?
Firstly, let's start by defining the principle differences between the two companies. Google is a search engine, meaning people use it to find answers to questions they have, and information they require. Facebook is fundamentally a communication tool used to connect people. The two operate in different fields, and whilst there may be an overlap in certain secondary functions each provides, they cannot, and should not, be compared so broadly.
But isn't Facebook moving into the search world?
It has been argued that the social interaction which Facebook provides however, represents the new way of finding information - or in other words, could be considered as the new age search engine. The Sunday Times article uses the idea of finding worth-while and meaningful film reviews as an example to demonstrate how it (Facebook and other social tools), can provide more value than the likes of Google.
The world is bigger than just Facebook. Don't miss out, use Google!
Augie Ray, analyst at Forrester Research, says 'When you are looking for a movie recommendation, what you want to know is what people like you think. A bunch of kids who rate Twilight with five stars is no use to me. What about middle-aged men who have shown an interest in art films? What are they watching?' The point is, according to Augie, social media tools like Facebook are more likely to connect like-minded people (and hence provide relevant reviews and recommendations), than a search engine is. In answer to this, I'd suggest that by relying on your own, closed circle of friends for advice/recommendations, you'll never open your eyes to potentially exciting and interesting opportunities others may introduce to you. What's more, I'd also argue that you're far more likely to find valuable, in-depth reviews relating to a much broader selection of films through search engines than you are through Facebook.
Further evidence Google is bigger than Facebook
It is also important to remember that the statistics which are being discussed here only relate to the two domains, 'Facebook.com' and 'Google.com'. Google in particular, has key web presences which are positioned on other domains. YouTube ('Youtube.com') is a Google company and is a website which regularly features as one of the top five global websites when it comes to traffic figures. When you consider YouTube and other Google companies on top of the 'Google.com' domain, I'm sure the traffic Facebook is currently seeing will begin to look somewhat less impressive.
Google is the Internet
There are so many more reasons why Google should be recognised as the Internet's dominant force but the final point I'll present in this blog is simple. Google, not Facebook, is synonymous with the Internet.
To prove this point, you don't have to look any further than the Zeitgeist which Google published at the end of 2009. In this document, it is clear to see that 'facebook', as a keyword, is the second fastest rising term (globally) - and was only beaten to the top of the list by 'michael jackson'.
What this means is that significant volumes of traffic which result in a visit to the Facebook domain, originate from Google. Were it not for Google, a fair number of Facebook visits would not have taken place. What this also demonstrates is that there is a clear hierarchy in place, i.e., people recognise Google as the dominant force on the Internet, and search for lesser entities (such as Facebook), through the search engine.
To conclude, the news that Facebook has tightened it's grip over Google should not result in businesses making hasty decisions to move away from search engine activity. Google is far from becoming redundant, and Facebook's rise in popularity should simply suggest that businesses need to look at a greater online marketing strategy, that incorporates social media as well as search engine optimisation, for example.