|News May 3, 2005
Which search engine has the biggest share of monthly searches? That was the sort of question panelists from web measurement agencies attempted
to shed light on in the Search Landscape Panel at Search Engine Strategies New York, as I reported in a
recent guest article for SearchDay.
WPN Editor's Note:
New information on the effectiveness of search engines was released recently. Things like market share and referral rates to various
business. Google dominates the market holding nearly 50% of the total share. A recent story from Traffick.com covers this in great
detail. We'd like to know what you think. Do you think Google should rule the roost? Or do you really have a thing for Jeeves?
Tell us all about it!!
(A similar panel with Canadian stats will be happening this week at
Search Engine Strategies Toronto.)
-- slightly different -- question is: which search engine refers the most traffic to business websites? Studies deriving from referral logs
are the best way of answering this question. Web metrics companies like WebSideStory release periodic news releases with stats of this nature
-- basically aggregated stats from all of their clients' site stats, as opposed to panel-based measurements of online user behavior. These can
help to provide an extra data point when considering the extent of Google's dominance.
Dan Shapero of Net Applications recently passed along March numbers from his
company's Hitslink stats application. It provides aggregated statistics from 40,000+ URL's on things like browser usage and search referrals.
The numbers are a bit unusually presented. Global stats are included but are a small percentage of the total, so for example "Google UK"
doesn't make the top six just because Net Applications doesn't have a huge global customer base, and those customers are generating
relatively little traffic. In addition, the stats don't distinguish between paid and unpaid referrals. But "content targeting"
referrals are not included, just search..
All that being said, this set of numbers confirms the "Google Domination Factor":
Ask Jeeves 0.9%
Remember, there could be dozens of others on the list all around 0.5% or less, many of them being global Google, MSN, AOL, and Yahoo sites as
well as a couple hundred additional tiny niche referrers. So this doesn't mean Ask Jeeves' US-based market share is 0.9%, but it does
seem to mean that in the U.S., Google refers 45X more traffic to web pages that matter than Ask Jeeves does.
Another thing this could mean is that Yahoo refers a lot of traffic to larger companies who are participating in its pay-per-click
or paid inclusion programs, but these same companies are not Hitslink clients. Intuitively I feel this is the case. I have no proof
that Hitslink skews towards the smaller marketer, but I get the feeling it does at least exclude most of the Fortune 1000 companies
who may be seeing higher CTR's from Yahoo by virtue of taking advantage of paid inclusion and PPC. That doesn't mean this is bad data -- it
may mean that it's very realistic data for SME's to look at. I believe many assume Yahoo "typically" refers about as much traffic as Google. Of
course many companies are atypical, but the most typical SME pattern is in fact to see the Google - Yahoo split in terms of search referrals
as somewhere around 65-35. For the facts as they relate to your company, all you need to do is to look at referral logfile data over
the past 12 months to see if there is a pattern. Obviously that pattern will depend heavily on how much you are spending on paid traffic.
were few changes in the Hitslink data from February to March, but Google did gain a bit of ground at MSN's expense, which runs counter to
some of the panel-based behavioral studies which have suggested MSN Search growing a bit lately at AOL's expense. Maybe so, if you watch a
panel go about its daily business, but not so if you look at traffic that's actually clicking through to client sites in any tangible way.
The breakdown of Hitslink clients is as follows:
Commerce sites: 43%
Corporate sites: 18%
Content sites: 10%
Other (gov, org, SEM companies, and
76% of Hitslink's customers use
pay-per-click programs to drive
|About the Author::
Andrew Goodman is
Page Zero Media, a
marketing consultancy which
focuses on maximizing
clients' paid search
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