Forget the Comsore numbers on search engines, look beyond.
I always have mixed feelings when I look at statistics which show the market share of search engines. I like the numbers, it gives you a nice insight in where the audience is at. But its also a misleading list. You will always see Google on top with Bing, Yahoo, in some cases Ask or even AOL and in certain countries Baidu and Yandex trailing. It will keep the focus of the marketers on Google, where there is so much more to look at than this search giant
So why is it misleading? First of all, a market share of less than a percentage for Ask makes that marketers tend to ignore that search engine entirely. Which could be a shame. Just start counting, 1% of 100 million people still is a 1.000.000 people you could be missing out on by ignoring Ask.
But the smaller search engines is not what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about is the fact that search is a lot more than just those search engines in the lists we see coming by every month at Hitwise or Comscore.
The lists are about search engines which crawl the web, no matter which topic or which content. But the web has become big, very big. So big that many searchers can’t see anymore what is important and what not. That makes they do two things: they only look at the first page of a SERP and they go an search elsewhere, not on a different search engine but in a different place.
More and more people will be looking at the vertical search engines. YouTube is the biggest example here. The video search engine, yes owned by Google, is in fact in actual number of searches the second biggest search engine in the world. More and more marketers have noticed that and are starting to use YouTube for their marketing efforts. Off course this is partly instigated by the fact that Google now shows the video results in their Universal Search Result Pages.
But there is a lot more to be looking at as a marketer. The successful search marketer of the future is going to be capable of finding search in different areas than just Google or Bing
YouTube is the first step, but we all should be looking a bit further than that. Look at your phone, which is a ‘walking search engine’. On my phone I have applications running which give us a little insight of what we can expect. The best example there is Layar. This Augmented Reality application is actually a search engine.
Last week I was walking through Tarragona, Spain, wondering where I should go first. The Layar application helped me find the nearest cultural spots and even got me to find my dinner place. I just opened the application, highlighted the fact that I wanted to see the nearest cultural spots and within seconds I knew where they were, what they were and how I could get there. No Google was used here, but I definitely was using a search engine.
Another example is off course social media. We all have heard the advantages of using Twitter search or even Facebook search. When you want to find a restaurant to eat at, who will you trust more, a search engine or your friends? Probably the last group. Searching through social media, your “friends”, will thus be a more trusted resource than a ‘regular’ search engine. We might not all realize it, but we are using a lot more search engines than just Google.
This is because search is a lot more than just Google. Search is everywhere. And Google realizes that. Universal Search, Social Search and Personalized Search are examples of Google trying to grasp a part of the vertical searches people are already performing. They might even buy applications like Layar or develop them themselves (Google Goggles). But they won’t be able to grab them all.
That’s why search marketers better start looking outside of Google and outside of their own website. If you own a pizza place use virtual coupons within mobile applications, if you own a hotel in Spain, put videos up on YouTube so we can see where we are going and if you happen to sell cookies, be sure to have your friends recommend them on social media. Go and find out where your potential client is searching, and make sure you are there.
In the meanwhile, we keep waiting for Comscore to give us numbers on all search engines, not just the ones indexing the entire web.