Facebook Is Top Search Term and Most Visited Website for 2010

Experian Hitwise released statistics yesterday indicating that “Facebook” was the most frequently searched term for the second year in a row, besting YouTube, Craigslist, and MySpace. Among the top ten searched terms, four were variations of Facebook, including “Facebook login” showing that users frequently search rather than entering the site’s URL or clicking a bookmark when they want to browse the site.

The rankings of the top searched musicians closely mirror our PageData charts of the most popular Pages, showing that Like count may be an accurate measurement of public interest. Facebook also overtook Google for the first time to become the most visited website of 2010.

Social networking sites claimed 4.18% of the top 50 searches, demonstrating that the public is very interested in using and learning about ways to interact with friends online. Facebook, and variations like “Facebook.com”, made up 3.48% of U.S. searches among the top 50 terms, a 207% increase over 2009, outpacing Facebook’s monthly active user growth for the year.

The climb of the term “Facebook login” from the ninth to the second most searched term means users are interested in a quick, simple way to access their account. Facebook has been trying to help users achieve this by prompting some to add the site as their home page.

All five of the top searched musicians, including Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson, are also among the top 30 Facebook Pages and top 11 musician Pages on Facebook according to our PageData tracking service. While Like counts can be artificially increased through marketing and Like-gated promotions, the correlation in the statistics shows that Facebook Page size may be an accurate gauge of public interest for some categories.

Google led Facebook in terms of total visits across its owned web properties with 9.85% of all U.S. visits, summed from its search engine’s 7.19%, YouTube’s 2.65%, and other sites including Gmail and Google Maps. Facebook.com alone brought in 8.93% of all U.S. visits, meaning it might one day exceed Google in this category if it expanded its service offerings.

Hitwise stated that “the top 10 Websites accounted for 33 percent of all U.S. visits between January and November 2010, an increase of 12 percent versus 2009.”, showing the biggest sites in several categories are pulling share away from their smaller competitors. This consolidation could be fueled or signaled by the numerous acquisitions by web giants like Facebook and Google in 2010.

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