by Matt Parisi
Experian Hitwise and comScore have released their July 2010 Search Engine Market Share reports. Since it’s been a while since we’ve checked in on these stats on the blog, we thought it was an opportune time to comment on the trends we’ve seen since the last post on search engine market share in mid-January this year.
As can be seen from comparing the numbers above, both reports show similar relative levels of search traffic with Google #1, followed by Yahoo, Bing and Ask in that order. What can’t be seen in the above tables is how these levels have fluctuated over time. On comScore, search engine market share has fluctuated as follows since November 2009:
- Google went from 65.5% in November 2009 to 65.8% in July 2010
- Yahoo went from 17.5% in November 2009 to 17.1% in July 2010
- Microsoft went from 10.3% in November 2009 to 11.0% in July 2010
- Ask remained level at 3.8% (after falling below that benchmark)
According to Experian Hitwise, search engine market share has fluctuated as follows since November 2009:
- Google went from 71.57% in November 2009 to 71.43% in July 2010
- Yahoo went from 15.39% in November 2009 to 14.43% in July 2010
- Microsoft went from 9.34% in November 2009 to 9.86% in July 2010
- Ask went from 2.65% in November 2009 to 2.32% in July 2010
In general the trends from each source are very similar, with the only significant differences being Experian Hitwise reporting a decline in market share for Google and the Ask Search network, whereas comScore reports a gain in market share for Google and a level market share for Ask. However, overall, Google and Ask remained about level, while Microsoft increased market share and Yahoo lost market share. Yahoo can be observed gaining back market share in the last two months, while Microsoft has been holding level.
It is interesting to compare these trends in relation to offline marketing. Google demonstrates a far more steady position than any of the other search engines, yet advertises with the least reach through offline means. Yahoo and Bing have demonstrated much larger swings in market share while also advertising with much more prominence offline as demonstrated by Yahoo’s current ongoing TV & radio campaign and Bing’s recent launch advertising and re-branding efforts. While these facts may seem contradictory, with closer examination these are very predictable trends based on the historical positioning of each search engine.
Google’s position as the market leader has been entrenched over many years now. In the late 90′s Google’s search engine proved superior to competitors and quickly picked up market share based on a quality product. In Yahoo’s early days, Yahoo positioned itself much differently, operating more like a paid/edited directory than a true search engine scouring all pages on the internet (Yahoo was originally called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”). The search business to MSN in these days was more of an afterthought. Google’s superior search results were driven by the fact that Google was the only search engine to look beyond on-page factors and use off-page factors (incoming links, the copy of the incoming links, etc) to rank websites against each other.
In the coming weeks Yahoo and Bing’s search engines will be combined to be driven by Bing’s search algorithm. This represents a major challenge to Google’s position as market leader, but ultimately this battle can only be won through the perception of which product is of higher quality. Despite offline advertising, which can move the needle but only temporarily, Google’s position has been earned through high quality as opposed to marketing. Bing and Yahoo’s extraordinary marketing spends must be accompanied by real improvements to the search experience or else market share gains will prove temporary as they have based on the results of their advertising campaign earlier this year.