When people log onto the Internet, they tend to go one of three places: Google, their email inboxes or, increasingly, Facebook. Now, Facebook is reportedly positioning itself to become the home page for its users. According to articles in TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is split-testing a subset of its users, with a blue bar across the top of the page when they login, asking that they make Facebook their home page.
Facebook plans to roll the option out to all users within a few weeks, says The Wall Street Journal. Even prior to this push, some six percent of all Internet users have Facebook as their home page.
Home Page, Version 2.0
Facebook appears to be borrowing from Yahoo!’s playbook from ten years ago in an attempt to become an Internet portal, albeit version 2.0.
While this practice is nearly as old as the commercial Internet (for years websites have asked users to make their particular site the home page), the fact that Facebook is now doing so carries meaningful implications:
- This is a direct threat to Google and other search engines (but mainly Google) that rely on their status as home page for millions of users;
- Facebook’s traffic could rise even more dramatically;
- Facebook stands to gain even more revenue from online advertising;
- Facebook gains greater traction among users of the social web.
Implications for Ecommerce Merchants
There are implications for ecommerce merchants as well:
- A presence within Facebook could become more important. Merchants should consider the tremendous growth and ubiquitous presence that the social network has achieved, and decide if their businesses could benefit from it. The best way to engage users in Facebook is by creating a Facebook Page. Using apps from companies like Payvment, ShopTab, Milyoni and others, merchants can start transacting business directly on the network.
- SEO could become less crucial. That may be a hard pill to swallow, especially for those who have put a lot of time and money into building a strong presence on search engines. But, as Facebook attempts to become the all-in-one web, the important role search engines currently play may decrease.
- Facebook optimization becomes even more important. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what content is shared in users’ news feeds. The term for it is EdgeRank. Though not as sophisticated as Google’s PageRank algorithm, the social network’s growing prevalence may spawn an entirely new industry, FBO (Facebook Optimization).
Facebook will likely play an increasing role in our daily lives. While I will still visit my inbox the first thing every morning, with Facebook’s recent announcement that it has developed a modern messaging system, even that may soon entail a visit to Facebook.