In 2010, One Site Ruled Them All: Facebook

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Facebook ruled the Internet in 2010. It was both the most-searched term -- accounting for 2.11% of all searches -- and the top-visited website, attracting 8.93% of all U.S. visits, compared to Google's 7.19%. Online research firm Experian Hitwise, which compiled this data, based its study on the first 11 months of the year.

Variations of the social media network's name were among the top-searched terms as well, including "Facebook login," which came in second place. Hitwise also reports that other online destinations were high on the list of searches: YouTube, craigslist and MySpace.

Kim Kardashian was the top "people search" within the personalities category, Lady Gaga was the top artist search within the music category and the top searched-for athlete was Tiger Woods.

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The most important finding in the research was that "the combination of Google properties accounted for 9.85% of all U.S. visits. Facebook properties accounted for 8.93%, and Yahoo! properties accounted for 8.12%."

The data should concern both search engine companies and major online portals. Facebook not only did well in the Hitwise study but it has also quickly moved up the list of most-visited websites based on unique visitors in the U.S., according to Comscore data. November measurements show Facebook in the No. 4 spot, with 151.7 million unique visitors. That put it just behind Microsoft's (MSFT) sites. Facebook's growth could push it past Google (GOOG) sites next year into the top position.

Facebook also dominates the display advertising business in the U.S., with about 25% of all display ads served on Facebook pages. However, another report found the email still does much better than Facebook as a tool for retailers to get shoppers into their stores.

The ubiquity of Facebook among online users seems to confirm predictions that it will eclipse Google as the most important website in the U.S. Facebook's rising domination of the Internet not only means it's winning the hearts and minds of Web surfers -- it means traditional destinations are quickly losing their hold.

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