Is it Google? Actually, no. Google didn’t make it to the top this year. Google was bumped to second place by the one and only Facebook. Who would have thought when Facebook began nearly 7 years ago, that it would become as large and as influential as it is today? There is a movie about it, there are more than 500 million people now using the site, and its users are visiting Facebook for more than simply connecting with “friends”. Facebook draws people from around the world – supporting causes, promoting brands and celebrities, and even shopping – while staying in touch with friends.
Recent numbers from Hitwise below show that Facebook has now surpassed Google in being the most visited site in the U.S. during 2010. What is interesting is that not only was Facebook the most visited site, Facebook was the most searched term in 2010. Should some of the credit maybe go to Google and other search engines? Of the top 10 most searched terms, variations of Facebook occurred 4 times, as shown in the image below.
If the current trend continues as we move into 2011, it would also be extremely advantageous for companies and brands not in Facebook to consider a strategy for building a presence there. Facebook has changed the way people find information and communicate with brands online. Also, as with most marketing efforts online, your Facebook efforts can be tracked through an analytics package as well as through Facebook’s Insights. It will be interesting to see what Facebook will bring this year, further enhancing the opportunities for businesses.
In 2005, the Monday after Thanksgiving was named Cyber Monday by the National Retail Federation trade group to kick off the Holiday shopping season. The idea behind this was that shoppers will visit stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, and then on Monday when they return to work, they will shop online for additional deals.
This year, there was no doubt that online retailers made great efforts to attract customers to their websites. Extraordinary discounts were promoted leading up to and throughout Cyber Monday. Through the numbers, it seems as though many retailers’ efforts have paid off. Sales were up 19.4% this Cyber Monday, reported by Coremetrics. In addition, the average order value on Cyber Monday was $194.89, higher than last year’s average of $180.03. In particular, luxury goods retailers in particular saw a significant increase in sales this year.
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically are the two most well-known shopping days of the year, Thanksgiving Day was pretty successful as well. comScore reported that on Thanksgiving Day online holiday spending rose 28% percent to $407 million this year.
Many retailers are not only focusing on email and paid search efforts to promote their deals. Social media is playing a much larger role than it has in the past this holiday season. Large brands such as Amazon, Sports Authority’s and Sears are using social media to promote deals. Facebook and Twitter in particular offer great opportunities to reach shoppers as they are spending time within their channel of choice. As shoppers seem to be willing to spend a bit more this year, it would be advantageous to look to social media as another avenue to reach customers.
Google has stated many times that they strive to make searching as easy as possible. They’ve made quite a few changes, particularly with the fairly recent release of Google Instant. You may remember when it was launched a few months ago, and probably have noticed through routine searching, Google Instant enables you to essentially search as fast as you can type.
Google has taken their search results a step further by announcing Google Instant Previews. With Instant Previews, you as a searcher have the ability to see a snapshot of web pages listed in the search results without having to actually click through to the pages. To preview a page, all you have to do is click anywhere within the snippet shown on the search results page. By enabling users to take a brief glance at the listing before they click, Google is helping searchers better find the type of information that they are searching for. Google said that during testing, people who use the new Instant Previews are 5% more likely to be satisfied with the result they click on.
Beyond simply seeing a snapshot of the web pages listed, Instant Previews can also feature text call outs within the preview of a page, which will be highlighted in orange. The call outs are determined by where your search term(s) appear on the page, which is just another way to evaluate the web page’s content before clicking away from the search results.
Below is a search for NY City Hotel where you can easily see the Instant Preview, along with what the call outs can look like:
Try searching for anything on Google and test out the new Instant Preview to see what you think about Google’s latest change to their search results page.