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Can you guess which website was visited by more Americans than any other site this year? Or which website we'll favor next year? (Hint: They're the same site.)

Breaking news: Americans are obsessed with Facebook.

Researchers even have the data to prove it – plus some pop culture trivia and money-minded insight – gleaned from our Internet activity this year.

Looking back

For the second year in a row, Facebook was the most-visited website in the U.S this year. According to Hitwise, a division of the Experian credit bureau, visits to Facebook accounted for more than 10 percent of all the website visits we made. That’s up 15 percent from last year.

The word “facebook” was also the most-searched term. Hitwise has ranked it No. 1 for the past three years, but from 2010 to 2011, they saw a 46-percent increase.

What else did we obsess over this year?

The three most-searched…

  • Public figures: Justin Bieber, Casey Anthony, and Kim Kardashian
  • Personalities: Kim Kardashian, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh
  • Musicians: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Beyonce
  • Athletes: Tiger Woods, Danica Patrick, and Brett Favre
  • Movies: Star Wars, Transformers 3, and Breaking Dawn (from the Twilight series)
  • TV shows: American Idol, The Young and the Restless, and Dora the Explorer

Moving forward

Perhaps not surprisingly, social media dominates Hitwise’s list of Internet predictions for the new year – and may soon dominate our wallets…

  • Facebook will continue to dominate social media with over 50 percent market share of visits to all social networks.
  • Online video will continue to grow as a channel with YouTube leading the way for video consumption. At some point during 2012 online video will pass the 1 billion visits per month milestone.
  • Social media will have a greater impact on traffic to transactional websites than ever before. In 2012 between 50-60 percent of all traffic leaving social media websites will go to transactional websites up from 43 percent in 2010 and 49 per cent in 2011.

I find that last prediction fascinating. Transactional websites are ones where we make monetary transactions, like Amazon, eBay, and any other site that gives us reason to whip out our credit card. So Hitwise is saying that of all the links we click while on Facebook next year, at least half will be to sites that encourage us to spend money.

So before you sit down at the computer next time, consider leaving your wallet out of sight and reach. Oh, and don’t forget to visit our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page, writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and covers consumer and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Stacy Johnson

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