Google’s YouTube generated 606m hits and accounted for one in four visits to social networks in December last year, according to statistics from Experian Hitwise.
The figures made YouTube the fastest-growing website in the social category although Facebook is still easily the largest social website with over 1bn visits per month and a market share of over 50%.
Visits to YouTube rose 45% year on year to hit 606m per month according to the report, which also claimed that social media was the third-largest source of traffic to online retailers over the Christmas season, accounting for 8% of all visits to retailer websites during the period.
The figures do not include Google+, which Experian Hitwise does not yet measure.
James Murray, market research analyst at Experian Hitwise, said, “YouTube experienced the most phenomenal growth in 2011, cementing its place as the third most visited website in the UK after Google and Facebook and the second biggest social network in the UK.”
He also added that while Google was starting to gain ground on Facebook in the social category, it’s important to highlight that it had some way to go to become a serious rival.
“Facebook is still growing marginally but its share of the social market declined slightly,” said Murray. “However, it’s important to put the figures in context as there’s more competition its difficult to maintain its dominant position.”
The statistics also revealed that Google sites accounted for 91.75% of all searches conducted in the UK in December 2011, up by 0.67% since November 2011.
In contrast, Google’s competitors lost market share of searches during the surveyed period. Microsoft and Yahoo Sites both fell by more than a quarter of a percent, according to the statistics. Year on year, Google, Microsoft and Ask Sites were up in terms of total search market share, but Yahoo sites were down by 0.88%.
Commenting on the Microsoft and Yahoo search alliance, which was implemented over the past 12 months, Murray said: “It’s difficult to see how Microsoft and Yahoo have done on a month-on-month basis because there are constant fluctuations.”
He also added that the total number of searches increased between December 2010 and December 2011.