In a first for any Internet company, Google hit one billion unique visitors in May, according to the results of a comScore report first reported in the Wall Street Journal. Especially notable is the fact that Google beat Facebook to the milestone.
Google may have led May with an 8.4% boost in unique visitors that propelled them just over the one billion mark, but Microsoft was close behind with a 15% gain of its own to 905 million. Intriguingly, Facebook experienced an even larger percentage surge of 30%, netting them about 714 million users.
The comScore data is based on its "global measurement panel" of two million users. Think of it as an analogue to the way Nielsen families are used to calculate television viewership. And while comScore receives page view data from 90 or so of the top web content publishers, Google doesn't share theirs. So no, these numbers aren't gospel. But they're based in solid statistical realities.
Back in early 2006, when comScore started keeping track of these things, they placed Google at 496 million unique visitors per month. And Microsoft's MSN content network was number 1 with 539 million. Times change.
Obviously, this doesn't represent the ultimate victory of Google over its rivals: Facebook is still leading in terms of time spent on the website. Users logged 250 million minutes on Facebook in May alone, versus Google's 200 million and Microsoft's 204 million.
But it's very good news for the search engine's bottom line - every visitor is exposed to Google's contextual advertising, and they're building out that business as much as they can.