Google is the undisputed king of search and, in the majority of cases, when people want to find something out, the just "Google it." I don't even bother with the classic parent line of "look it up!" when my kids come to me with questions. I just tell them to Google it.
Which is all well and good for Google's search-driven advertising business. What isn't good for this multibillion dollar business, though, is the speed with which people tend to leave Google properties. That is, after all, the point: Find the website you need and go there. Google has even created tools to make the whole process faster and easier. So while countless millions of users are Googling everything under the sun, they're spending hours and hours on Facebook.
Google may have plenty of traffic and extraordinary revenue, but Facebook is just plain sticky and getting stickier. According to Information Week,
Facebook [accounts] for almost one-fourth of page views and 10% of Internet visits, according to Experian Hitwise...Second-place Google...took in about 7% marketshare, and YouTube took 3% of Internet visits...
Stickiness and the ability of a site to generate many pageviews for a single visit is a major driver of advertising rates, giving Facebook a real advantage in that respect over Google. Facebook is now actively prompting users to set the site as their homepage and is hoping to consolidate many of it users' communication channels under its new Facebook Messaging service.
Google continues to have the advantage of being necessary. Facebook is essentially one big social time drain, while search engines are vital to navigating a seemingly infinite Internet. However, as Facebook drives more and more traffic to its site, its ability to leverage a massive social graph for useful search will improve rapidly.
Will Facebook ever be more useful than Google? I hope not, but even if it becomes moderately useful, users will have one less reason to leave Facebook and head over to Google. Obviously Google is diversifying and building enterprise tools that Facebook can't match. However, these stats do have some meaning beyond fodder for bloggers.
They mean that Google needs to get stickier fast. Or just buy Facebook.