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Search Engines – Can There Be Only One?

Search Engines – Can There Be Only One?

by Jessica Jones

There’s a crack I sometimes make when I’m talking about SEO and various search engines: “Everyone knows that there’s really only one that matters.” It always gets a smile or a knowing nod because, of course, everyone always knows which one it is that I’m referring to. Because, really, everyone knows.

But how true is it? Is Google really the only search engine that makes a difference in internet culture? Of course not – but it is far and away the most significant.

slamdot-search-screenEvery month comScore releases U.S. Search Engine Rankings. September’s rankings reported Google as having 66.9% market share. Ranked second was Microsoft (the owners of Bing) with 17.9%.

No Denying It – Google is the Big Cheese

Google holds almost a full 50% more of the market share than its closest competitor. What’s more, Google has held the majority of the market share for years now. The comScore reports go back to 2007, at which point Google held 56.5%. As quickly as trends come and go on the internet, for one corporation to hold such sway for such a long period of time is highly impressive. A large part of their strength, of course, is that Google has evolved into far more than just a search engine. That, however, may be a subject for a later post focusing solely on Google.

It is worth noting that in 2007 the second ranked search engine was Yahoo with 23.3%, and Microsoft came in third with only 11.3%. Between then and now Microsoft/Bing has significantly overtaken Yahoo: Yahoo’s current share is only 11.4% compared to Bing’s 17.9%. Of course Google’s numbers have steadily increased, leaving less for everyone else. In 2007 search engines not included in the big three took up 9% of the market; since then that number has dropped to 3.9%.

What Does That Mean For You – and Your SEO?

So what do we learn from these numbers? If you’re looking for a single search engine to focus your efforts on then yes, Google is, in fact, the one that matters the most. If you’re interested in investing some of your advertising budget into a search engine based campaign, Google is going to reach the largest potential audience.

Does that really mean that Google is the only one that matters? That depends on whether you’re comfortable discounting 33.1% of search engine users. The good news is that, when it comes to SEO, the same solid techniques – effective keyword usage, current content, etc. – for improving your ranking on one search engine are likely to also improve your ranking on the others. Every search engine has its own set of algorithms (Google’s are famously complex) but for the layman the similarities are more important than the differences.

At Slamdot we do recommend being aware of your presence on all of the big three – in fact, part of our SEO package involves claiming and optimizing your local listings with Google, Bing and Yahoo.

The take home message? Yes, Google is, in fact, the big dog – by far. Is that likely to change anytime soon? Given that Google is now also at the helm of a good chunk of smartphones, no, I wouldn’t guess so – though I never discount the possibility of an unexpected game changer.

How should this knowledge impact your decisions about your online presence? That will depend heavily on your individual marketing strategy. For the most part if you keep your content fresh and practice effective inbound marketing you’re going to be steering your SEO in the right direction no matter which search engine is on top of the heap.