Amid all the news about Microsoft rolling their Live Search and MSN search engines into Bing, Google unveiling new features day after day, and Yahoo updating their site, there’s a startling trend in the search engine market share: one of very little change.
Brand loyalty is often something attributed to basketball shoes and automobiles – not necessarily search engines.
But according to StatCounter, the overall market share percentages in the United States for each major search engine have barely moved.
Google and Yahoo have both registered small decreases in overall market share since July 2008, but in the interim, both have moved up and down – much like the stock market.
Looking at Google’s market share, as of June 28, 2009, Google holds 78.34 percent of the US market. That’s back up after Bing’s one-day leap in the standings on June 4, and less than a one point drop since July 2008.
Sure – the search engine industry is getting more competitive. Google no sooner unveiled their Wonder Wheel feature than rumors of a Yahoo makeover and update were announced. Bing made a splash in the market as well, but overall, the numbers really don’t move much.
Google is still king, and Yahoo, Microsoft (first MSN and Live Search, now Bing) make up distant second and third, respectively. Jumped at the bottom of the heap is everyone else – AOL, Ask, etc.
While the other search engines don’t have a large share of the market, it appears that they have staying power. In fact, AOL’s market share is up from 1.28 percent on May 18, 2009 to 1.41 percent on June 28, 2009. Not a large gain, and the numbers have bounced around, but users are staying loyal.
This brings me to user loyalty. I’ve never really considered myself loyal to one particular search engine over another, but I almost always use Google. The results are fast, usually accurate, and almost any random query I posit, I get what I’m looking for.
Users of Ask, AOL, Yahoo and every search engine have for some reason chosen to stick with their respective sites. AOL and Yahoo have informative home pages filled with news, local weather and personalized recommendations. Some users probably enjoy the home page service – but Google offers all the same stuff; you just have to click for it.
As SEOs, we know that Google is the giant, with a big target painted on its side. But this trend of user loyalty proves that smaller search engines like Ask and AOL are valuable for targeting users who will always stay with what they like.
Google will remain the major target, but we shouldn’t ignore the smaller search engines in the process. For whatever reason, some users have chosen those search engines and there’s no point in missing out on reaching those users!
By: Zack S.