Share beats search: more hits from Facebook than Google

A monumental shift in web traffic happened over the holiday season. Sites ranging from gossip such as to live streaming such as suddenly began getting more of their traffic coming from Facebook than from Google.

As reported in HitWise, last week had 8.7% of its visits from Facebook vs. 7.62% from Google. is a very popular site that recently scored its best traffic day ever in late February with 13.9 million page views.

Content sites have spent billions of dollars — $12.2 billion in 2008 according to a recent eMarkerter report — on search engine optimization and search engine marketing in order to get traffic from Google and the other search sites. Yet organic traffic from Facebook is beating hits from Google.

Why? The answer is pretty simple. It’s the same driving force that’s behind so much of social media. You are much more likely to click on a link that your friend recommends than you are to trust the arbitrary data that Google churns out in response to your search.

I have written often that social networks like Facebook and MySpace are the best route for content publishers to monetize their content. But even I am surprised at how rapidly this transition has occurred.

With only nascent investment in social media, publishers are already seeing better traffic from Facebook than from Google. Soon the SEM/SEO spend will start to follow the eyeballs and transition from Google to social media.

Smart social media campaigns are a much more efficient use of marketing dollars since it takes the potential that obviously exists in a friend’s recommendation and turns it into something lively and unique — breaking the mold of boring search ads and easy-to-ignore banners and entering the world of social syndication. --- This morning NewTeeVee wrote about this after I briefed them earlier this week at Beet.TV roundtable.