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Weird stat on search engine traffic to social networks September 6, 2007

Posted by jeremyliew in facebook, myspace, Search, social networks.

Facebook is now making (very) limited public search listings available to people who are not logged in to Facebook on an opt out basis.

Additionally, they will soon be allowing search engines to crawl these Public Search listings. Presumably the business rationale it to increase traffic from search engines.

Myspace has allowed search engines to crawl profile pages for some time.

Oddly enough though, according to Comscore, in July 5% of Facebook’s visits came from Google but only 4% of MySpace’s visits came from Google. It may be that there won’t be much of a lift in traffic from this move after all.


1. scottrafer - September 6, 2007

I’d take a look at what happened to LinkedIn’s traffic when they created public profiles. It tells a different story.


Also, typo in your title.

2. jeremyliew - September 6, 2007


I think you’ve got two different use cases going on. For LinkedIn it’s “be introduced to people I don’t know”. For MySpace it’s “keep in touch with my friends”. I think Facebook’s use case is more like MySpace’s than it is like LinkedIn’s.

ps – fixed the typo – thanks

3. Wayne Mulligan - September 7, 2007

I have to side with Jeremy here – as an early adopter of Facebook I feel like they’re violating some of their core values with this move – Privacy and Control. And while this move won’t have a catastrophic impact on Facebook, it does make me more concerned for the company going forward. Once core values start to get compromised for the sake of building traffic, you can bet your bottom dollar customers won’t stand for it forever.

I talk a bit about it in a recent post: http://insanewayne.blogspot.com/2007/09/your-facebook-on-google.html

4. Keith - September 7, 2007

Facebook rolled out this feature, at least in a beta or pilot form, many months ago. I suspect that explains some of your data anomaly.

5. jeremyliew - September 8, 2007


I thought FB had rolled out the “find your profile through FB search” feature in beta a few months ago, but hadn’t opened it up to general web crawling unless people specifically linked to it, and that what was new was that all public FB profiles were going to be crawled (even if you hadn’t linked to it from outside).

Did I get that wrong?

6. Keith - September 8, 2007

Yes, but I don’t know how widely they tested it. I discovered my FB profile on Google months ago, which originally included access to your list of friends.

7. dj - September 8, 2007

But how many people use their real names on MySpace? If that number is low, I’d imagine it would be hard for MySpace to capture a big piece of the traffic from people search. In contrast, LinkedIn and Facebook users largely use their real names.

8. Steve Poland - September 9, 2007

I have to side with Scott and DJ — Facebook and LinkedIn use real names; MySpace doesn’t really. You can’t find a person’s real name on a MySpace profile unless the user explicitly puts it on there or uses it in their profile URL (which even then, a computer can’t figure out where the begin/end of the first/last name is).

I also don’t see this as being negative — FB isn’t releasing everything about you — just your first/last name and picture, as well as your network (maybe that is optional even??? in which case people will possibly know the company, city, or school you’re from). But no one can access your profile (unless you have your settings set so that they can; which I believe by default user profiles can not be accessed anonymously).

I think opening this up will have an impact on FB’s search traffic from Google/etc and will bring new users into the site. There are tons of people searches out there — your previous post on monetizing search points to 50% of searches being informational (I’d be curious how many are people searches) — and although it’s going to be hard for people search engines to monetize that traffic, that’s exactly the kind of traffic FB is looking for.

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