Facebook may have surpassed Google in the US, but what about other countries?

Facebook versus Google

There was a significant amount of media attention earlier this week around a report from traffic monitoring company Hitwise that claimed Facebook now has more traffic than Google in the US.

First of all it’s worth noting that Hitwise only compared Facebook with Google Search… So Facebook didn’t really surpass Google, if you read the fine print. All of Google’s sites counted together (including sites like YouTube, Blogger, etc), would still crush Facebook in terms of sheer traffic.

Still, it’s an interesting trend to examine. Facebook has managed to amass users like no other social network before it. It’s like the Roman Empire of social networks, so how is it doing when it comes to conquering the world? And how is it doing compared to Google?

Facebook’s traffic rank in the top 20 countries

We made a list of the top 20 countries in terms of internet users, checking the traffic rank of Facebook for each one.

While we went through the data we also made sure to note what site was number one in each country, as well as the traffic rank of Google. We even threw in Twitter while we were at it, just because.

For the traffic rank, we used data from Alexa, not Hitwise, for the simple reason that Alexa data is readily available, including top lists for all countries. This means there will be some deviation from numbers reported by Hitwise. For example, Alexa still ranks Google.com as the number one site in the US, but it should still give us a decent indication of how these sites are doing.

International site rankings for Facebook, Google and Twitter
Country Internet users Facebook’s pos Twitter’s pos Google’s pos Site at #1
China 360,000,000 Not in top 500 371 3 baidu.com
United States 227,719,000 2 12 1 google.com
Japan 95,979,000 30 20 2 yahoo.co.jp
India 81,000,000 4 11 1 google.co.in
Brazil 67,510,400 16 18 1 google.com.br
Germany 54,229,325 3 11 1 google.de
United Kingdom 46,683,900 2 10 1 google.co.uk
Russia 45,250,000 20 40 4 yandex.ru
France 43,100,134 2 46 1 google.fr
South Korea 37,475,800 5 19 4 naver.com
Iran 32,200,000 58 Not in top 500 1 google.com
Italy 30,026,400 2 30 1 google.it
Indonesia 30,000,000 1 12 2 facebook.com
Spain 29,093,984 2 19 1 google.es
Mexico 27,600,000 4 22 1 google.com.mx
Turkey 26,500,000 2 26 1 google.com.tr
Canada 25,086,000 2 11 1 google.ca
Philippines 24,000,000 1 10 3 facebook.com
Vietnam 21,963,117 8 192 1 google.com.vn
Poland 20,020,362 8 118 1 google.pl
Worldwide 1,733,993,741 2 12 1 google.com

Above: The top 20 countries in terms of internet users, plus worldwide results.

Facebook vs. Google, an uneven fight

A Google site is number one in 14 out the top 20 countries on the internet. Facebook is number one in two. Although Facebook’s rankings are mostly strong, they are still far behind Google.

And keep in mind that these listings don’t aggregate all Google sites. Google have their web properties spread out all over the place. For example, YouTube is the 4th most popular site in the world, and Blogger the 7th most popular, not to mention all the country-specific versions of Google. Facebook and Twitter, however, don’t suffer from the same division of their rankings.

One area Facebook seems to have conquered almost completely is Southeast Asia. Not only is it the most popular site in the Philippines and Indonesia, it’s also number one in Malaysia and Singapore (we checked). This region was the last stronghold of the social network site Friendster (remember them?), so this is probably bad news for Friendster.

Facebook vs. Twitter, another uneven fight

As we have pointed out in the past, while Twitter has been growing like crazy, they’re still not anywhere near the size of Facebook, and these country rankings confirm this from yet another perspective.

Japan is the exception, though. In Japan, Twitter is significantly more popular than Facebook. It’s the only country of the top 20 where Twitter beats Facebook, although they’re pretty close in Brazil as well.

Blocked sites…

Then there is another thing to consider here. This list includes two countries, China and Iran, which have made themselves known for either permanently or occasionally blocking access to social media sites, more specifically Twitter and Facebook. Their rankings in these two countries will therefore be pretty lousy, which of course isn’t entirely fair.


Even if Facebook got beaten by Google by a good margin in this survey, this is hardly a setback for them. The massive user base Facebook has gathered in just a few years is nothing short of amazing. Remember, they have only been around since 2004. Google, on the other hand, has had since 1998 to build their empire (and they are indeed huge).

Data sources: Alexa for the site traffic data, Internet World Stats for the internet users per country numbers.


  1. The original report looked at ‘market share of visits’, so Alexa data (as you point out) will be different. From what I understand, Alexa logs data from people using its toolbar; which is going to skew the data towards those people who install toolbars (onto supported Windows browsers).

    Twitter will be much lower by Alexa measures, as many Twitter users such as myself don’t visit Twitter.com website; instead sending/receiving tweets from various bits of software and/or phones. If you are looking at traffic then of course Twitter will also be much lower as they are mainly doing small amounts of text rather than lots of graphics and games such as on Facebook. Considering that (and how new Twitter is), the ranking is the biggest surprise to me.

    So I think depending on the metrics, Twitter and Facebook are hugely popular, but its a safe assumption that Google beats all worldwide. Numbers of active users using accounts would be a key metric; I am picking that Twitter might overhaul Google (Gmail) and Facebook on this measure if not already.

    What is also surprising to me is how quickly Facebook defeated all the other social networking sites like Bebo, Myspace and the others. Getting a critical mass of users is vital for these sites or people will quickly migrate.

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