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Google Grabs Almost All Search Growth; Others Flatline



A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Then I present to you the growth charts for US search trends for 2008:

If that doesn’t send chills down the spines of Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask, and AOL, then this observation from TechCrunch will:

What’s even more impressive is that nearly 90 percent of all the growth in search volume was also captured by Google.

It’s been like this for years now. Should the other search engines even bother to compete?

  • Dean

    I’ve said to before, but at what point will Google be considered a monopoly in search and what are the repercussions should that ever happen, or could it even happen.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Dean – but is it a monopoly when users can switch to another search engine easily, but choose not to?

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Nick Stamoulis

    I think what is more surprising is that AOL made the chart.

  • http://www.free-istuff.co.uk Milo

    can other sites not take Google to court for a monopoly?
    And no wonder everyone always talks about optimizing their site for Google :-P

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Don’t take it personally, Andy. I know you’re just the messenger, but these numbers are absolute nonsense.

    Google did NOT grab the largest market share. Nor did the others flatline.

    These metrics — based on number of searches — in no way reflect what is really happening at the search engines. As Google adds more features, its search box increasingly becomes a portal to Google’s own content.

    People now regularly surf Google without ever leaving their network. You can use the query box to read Google Groups, Google Answers, Google product listings. You can use the query box as a calculator, a dictionary, a map, a business directory, a phonebook.

    Informational queries make up a huge proportion of Google’s “search” traffic. When you drill down to the number of estimated vistors (per Quantcast and Compete, the only two major metrics providers who let you search on this data), Google has barely increased its market audience by about 7%.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, grew its search audience by nearly 47% in 2008. Microsoft is now serving 100 million+ search visitors every month, and only Google (with 140 million) still outperforms Microsoft.

    There is just no way anyone in the search optimization industry can justify or rationalize sweeping this data under the carpet. Number of searches is an outdated, misleading metric.

    comScore/Media Metrix moved away from counting visitors/visits several years ago because they could not distinguish between search visitors and non-search visitors to portal sites like Yahoo!. Well they’re right back where they started with the number of queries metric. They cannot tell who is actually searching Web content and who is just doodling with Google.

    At least now both Quantcast and Compete let you zoom in on specific sub-domains — so you CAN see that Yahoo!’s search traffic is languishing around the 60 million monthly visitors mark. You CAN see that Ask has managed to hang on to its audience whereas Yahoo! could not.

    People who continue to pretend that Microsoft search isn’t breathing down Google’s neck are in for a rude awakening. If Google and Microsoft only keep doing what they are doing, Microsoft will pull even with Google — perhaps even surpass them — by the end of this year.

    The recent Verizon-Microsoft search deal underscores just how aggressive Microsoft is being about increasing its search performance. People need to stop burying their heads in the “number of searches” sand and start taking a closer look at what is really happening in the search market.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..How SEOs hobble themselves

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Michael you had be hooked until I read this:

    “If Google and Microsoft only keep doing what they are doing, Microsoft will pull even with Google — perhaps even surpass them — by the end of this year.”

    Wanna bet on that? :-)

  • http://www.jovenmedia.com San Diego SEO

    I think the real questions is, can Google keep their CTR up? They reported $5.541 Billion in revenue for the quarter in September of 2008 so the real test of these metrics is whether searchers are getting a bad case of “ad blindness” or is their business model and ad platform really scalable and searches are continuing to click on textads.,

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Do the math, Andy. Microsoft: 100 million + times 1.47. Google 140 million times 1.07. It would be close.

    Now is not the time to close your eyes to the obvious gains Microsoft has made. You need to put the “searches performed” metric in the toy box along with all the other ideas that are no longer helpful.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..How SEOs hobble themselves

  • Dean

    @Michael – C’mon, who you kidding. Put down the MSFT talking points and join us for a big tall glass of reality juice. Microsoft is so incredibly unfocused right now they are far more likely to continue to lose market share (barring a Yahoo! acquisition) than gain on Google.

    I once offered to eat my show if Google ever reached $2,000 a share (http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/02/2000-a-share-seems-a-long-way-off-for-google.html). Since I am obviously not going to have to eat that any time soon I’ll offer to also eat it if Microsoft surpasses Google by the end of the year. You want some of that action?

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    Michael I want to believe you on this but my raw logs don’t lie. I have top 3 rankings on all three engines for lots of keywords. So why does Google always send more traffic directly from their search website versus MS?

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..Great Interview with Google Search Quality Team Member: Kaspar Szymanski

  • http://www.goodies4free.net Neil

    I must say cracking google is the big way to make money. Everybody knows the google brand the world over and it is just a matter of getting to the top of the rankings to generate the traffic required to make money from the web.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Dean, if Microsoft were really losing market share, they would have revealed that in their earnings report. Search was significantly omitted from problem areas in their revenue stream.

    Jaan, when your server logs represent the entire Web, they’ll tell you something meaningful about search market share.

    People who focus their efforts on optimizing for Google are going to see more success in building Google search referrals than other search engines.

    There is absolutely no rational foundation to the specious claim that Google dominates 90% of the search market — not unless you want to argue that Google has replaced 90% of the Web.

    The SEO community needs to stop praying to mythical gods and start looking at the data. 100 million people a month are using Microsoft search. Just because you don’t get a piece of that pie doesn’t mean other people aren’t.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..How SEOs hobble themselves

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    For the record, as I go over the data for the Real December 2008 Search Market Share Report I see that I used some wrong numbers to calculate Microsoft’s and Google’s growth rates for 2008. It appears Microsoft only grew its search audience by about 22% and Google only grew its search audience by about 10%.

    Which leads me to conclude that Microsoft does not yet have enough momentum to overtake Google this year (based solely on those growth rates). If we assume that these rates are sustained throughout 2009, Microsoft should end up with approximately 128 million monthly visitors and Google should end up with approximately 150 million monthly visitors.

    These projections still don’t put Google anywhere above 50% of the search market, however, much less near 90%.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..How SEOs hobble themselves

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  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Michael – you’re assuming that MSFT can keep growing at 22%. I don’t have the data to hand, but I suspect Google at one time far exceeded a 22% growth rate, before slowing to 10%.

  • http://ourbiz.us Billy E. Cole

    I am in the business of looking a websites, That brings up something funny about Google and the way webmasters lie about it.
    When I ask someone how does your website rank with Google, they proudly open Google then type in http://www.theirsite.com and say to me, “There it is, number one”
    Therefore much of Google search is not search at all rather a link provider. If every webmaster would how their clients how to use their browsers, I feel sure Google ratings would simmer down a bit

  • http://www.fasblog.com/ Fas

    Looks like Google is growing in recessionary times.

    Fas’s last blog post..9 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PEOPLE

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