The changing of the guard at Google, with cofounder Larry Page set to take on the CEO role in April, may have "nothing to do with competitors," as current CEO Eric Schmidt has stated.
But, one competitor, Facebook, sure is getting uppity.
Take a look at the Google-Facebook dynamic as it relates to hotel review website TripAdvisor.
Data from Experian Hitwise show that TripAdvisor's upstream traffic from Google declined 23% since June 2010, and in the same nearly 8-month period, TripAdvisor's upstream traffic from Facebook jumped 30%.
Here's an Experian Hitwise chart showing the growth in Facebook referral traffic to TripAdvisor since June 2010.
And, the 30% increase in TripAdvisor referral traffic from Facebook doesn't even include traffic tied to third-party applications such as Trip Friends, launched in June 2010, according to Experian Hitwise.
TripAdvisor, of course, is locked in a battle with Google over Google Places, with TripAdvisor arguing that Google tweaked its algorithms to ensure that Google Places wins in search results to the detriment of competing sites such as TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor must have been deeply impacted by Google Places to trigger such a public spat with Google. A 23% drop in referral traffic from Google over the last eight months might fall into the man-your-battle-stations category, but it is unclear how much of the traffic drop, if any, can be tied to Google Places.
Facebook's ascension as a traffic-referral site is not "news," but the Google and Facebook traffic trends as they impact TripAdvisor are interesting.
Of course, Google represents 29.48% of TripAdvisor's upstream traffic, while Facebook is responsible for just 2.3% of TripAdvisor's upstream traffic, but the trend is clear.
Facebook is increasingly important to travel companies as an advertising vehicle and upstream traffic generator.
Google's has a battle on its hands with Facebook -- unless Page can do something about it.
Again, that is not a news flash to anyone, but the TripAdvisor data bring the point home.