// what do you think?


Is Bitly Bigger than Google?

That’s the question I had to ask after seeing this post by John Borthwick with this chart.

I recently wrote a post on Bitly’s new search feature. It turns out that’s a bigger deal I thought initially.

The chart is about impossible to read but if you look in the upper right hand corner you’ll see where a yellow line intersects a dashed line. That’s Bitly’s decodes (clicks) and traffic data John gave for Google. By the looks of this chart you could get the impression that Bitly is bigger than Google.

That obviously didn’t seem right so I did a little digging. What I present bellow is a series of apples to oranges comparisons and really bad math.

The number for Google must be the traffic for Google.com. I got these numbers which are similar from Compete. (Click for larger image.)146 unique visitor a month.

But we all know that unique visits to Google.com don’t equate to number of searches on all of Google’s properties, which is the real number that matters.

But this number is really interesting:

bit.ly: last week was the largest week ever for clicks on bit.ly links. 564m were clicked on in total. On the Jan 6th there were a record of 98m decodes.    1100 clicks every second.

That was the week of January 11th, the same week that Twitter had it’s highest usage day. So knowing that this was a peak usage number but assuming that Bit.ly will continue to grow we’ll use that number: 98 million decodes (clicks) in one day. That’s 3 billion clicks in one month (again Bit.ly’s not there yet but humor me).

What about Google? The most recent data I could find was from Search Engine Watch from the summer of 2009 (I’m sure there’s better data but again, humor me). This claims that in Aug of 2009 Google had 6.9 Billion searches. Way more than Bit.ly clicks.

But wait. How big is Bit.ly? About 6 people and they’ve only been around a few years. How big is Google? ~20,000 employees and they have about a 12 year head start on Bitly.

Yeah big deal, I know. Let’s get really funny with the math.

That 6.9 Billion number is for all of Google’s properties. What if you separate the second largest search engine? (which Google also owns), YouTube.

Over a year ago YouTube was generating 2.7 Billion searches a month and with YouTube’s explosive growth this last year we’ll conservatively round up to 3 Billion. Subtracting those number you end up with

  • Google - 3.9 Billion
  • YouTube - 3 Billion
  • Bitly - 3 Billion

Not so funny anymore is it? So in one way (yes this is non-statistically accurate and apples to oranges but it’s fun) Bitly is as big as YouTube and almost as big as the rest of Google. This also explains why Bitly launched Bitly.tv and Google and YouTube both launched their own URL shorteners.

But wait, there’s more Bitly only has about 55% market share. That means the total market of clicks from URL shorteners could be nearing 5.5 Billion a month. But then we’d have to compare that to the total search market which is double that.

So no Bitly isn’t bigger than Google and even stretching the number as much as I did, it’s still not even as big but I think it’s a sign of things to come.

All funny number aside I only have one question? Why the hell hasn’t Google or Microsoft bought Bitly yet? Besides the clicks all that data is a gold mine.

Twitter and Facebook aren’t the threat to Google, we are. We would rather share links than search. Social networks are just the pipes we use to share but this puts a lot of power in the hands of the URL shorteners as they are the carriers of that information.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://yelirekim.com/ Mike Riley

    I'm pretty sure the Google numbers discard automated requests (giving a clearer picture of actual 'traffic'), while the bitly numbers include scraping and automated requests to their URLs. That probably skews it a good bit.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Oh for sure. I have little doubt my numbers aren't even realistically close but they're close enough to make you think.

  • http://one.valeski.org Jud Valeski

    comparing a bit.ly decode to search traffic on google is apples and oranges. I don't understand what you're trying to compare here. I'd also note that 12 months ago Google publicly stated that their “API usage equates to 4 Billion 'calls' per *day*.” still apples to oranges, but closer than “searches are somehow comparable to decodes.”

    did I miss the point of your post?

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