It doesn't seem flattering at first glance. The typical Google
Making matters worse, it would seem, the Nielsen/NetRatings study shows that Yahoo! and Mr. Softy drew in more unique visitors than the 76 million Google attracted in June. You also have Time Warner's
Soaking all of that data in, one would be inclined to pronounce Google unworthy to don the market-cap crown of Internet stocks. Don't. There's more to website stickiness than meets the eye.
For starters, 99% of Google's revenue comes from advertising. Most of that comes from the distribution of contextual ads sold through Google AdWords. Google generates money whenever a visitor clicks on a relevant ad. That's right -- Google loves you and all, but it wouldn't mind you picking up your virtual self and going elsewhere.
It's only natural for rival sites to log large amounts of face time. They're full-blown portals, relying on folks to check e-mail, swap snapshots, and download IM programs. Google is coming around on all of those fronts, but it's mostly a search engine right now. If you spend too much time on Google trying to find what you want, Google has failed you.
You can expect Google's stickiness to grow in time. If you haven't taken the time to explore Google Earth, stop what you're doing and check it out. Google also has Gmail, the image-sharing site Picasa, and Google Talk to match wits with competitors. However, that doesn't mean that Google's earnings power will grow along with its stickiness. As its many fiscally poorer rivals will let you know, these areas can't be as easily monetized as search. If you're checking your free email account or chatting with a friend online, the last thing on your mind is refinancing your home or booking a weekend getaway.
That's why Google should be grateful that it's an intermediary, not the final destination, when it comes to its brief hold on a search-hungry patron. Even if its chance meeting is fleeting, it's making the best out of its temporarily captive audience. It may not sound like much, but it's the best way to win the lucrative search war.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google, and he will concede that he spends far more than 40 minutes on Google during any given month. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.