One of the driving forces behind some of the legal attacks
on Google is that Google is the defacto monopoly on being found online. We've heard over and over again a claim along the lines of "if you're not in Google, you're not online." And there may be some
truth in that statement for many websites, but the rise of the social web appears to certainly be decreasing the reliance on Google for "being found." Nearly two years ago, we wrote about the increasing value
of "earned" or "passed" links or media. That is, with social communications platforms like Facebook and Twitter, people are promoting various websites themselves and others are discovering them not because of Google, but because their friends, families and colleagues are recommending them.
I have to admit that I was still a little skeptical of how big this would really be, but in the last year (and especially the last six months), I've really changed my mind -- and that's because we're seeing evidence of it directly. For years, our largest referrer every single day was Google. It wasn't even close. Every day, people came from Google (sometimes via searches, sometimes via things like Google Reader or iGoogle), and it simply dominated how people found us. Yet, these days, it's quite rare to see Google as the top referrer to Techdirt on any given day. Instead, it seems that every day we get an onslaught of traffic from at least one (and sometimes more) social communications platforms: StumbleUpon, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook now regularly come in as our biggest referrers. Google still drives a lot of traffic, but our traffic has certainly become a lot more diversified.
And while those companies certainly are not "competitors" to Google in the traditional sense, when it comes to the question of "the only way to be found online is Google," I can say empirically that's simply not true for us.
Along those lines, however, I should note that the reason those social communications systems work is because of people
who like what we have to say and want to share it
. That doesn't work if your content sucks, so if your content sucks, you may still have to rely on Google (but, even then, part of what Google tries to do is make sure the sucky content gets dropped down as well -- so the best solution might be to not have sucky content).
Related to all this, as we head into a brief holiday break (we'll be back next week, don't worry), I wanted to thank
everyone who makes this community so fun and dynamic -- and certainly the folks who made this story possible by regularly sharing our stories on those other platforms. That's mighty kind of you, and it is greatly appreciated.
Finally, again, related to all of this, we never
seem to post about the different ways to follow us online, even though most of you have probably figured it out on your own already. Of course, we have an RSS feed
, a Twitter feed
and a Facebook page
(which often fails to update for reasons not at all clear to us). We also have an email list that sends out copies of each of the previous day's posts early in the morning (US time) the following day. You can sign up for that by putting your email address in the box in the upper righthand corner of this page. Feel free to follow us (or not) however you prefer, and thanks for being a part of the community.