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Search Engine Market Share (US)
Organic Search / SEO Tips
Ranking the Search Engine Results Page
Sunday, November 25, 2007
As we mentioned the other day, ComScore released the latest search engine market share numbers based on activity in the US. To no one's surprise Google gained market share while the other big four engines remained constant. So while Google is still the dominant force in the search engine market are they the dominant search product when it comes to search results? The answer? It depends. It truly depends on the type of search that you do, your intent when you perform your search, what type of search that you do (research, purchase intent, vanity search, fun search etc.)

So we polled a few search users to see what their engine of preference was based on the type of search. The goal was to see which search engine results they favored (based on Search Engine). The options were: Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, and ASK. Here's what we found:

Product Search (General)

This involved searching for things such as a digital camera or mobile phone. The top engines in order of favorite where:
  1. Yahoo
  2. ASK
  3. Google
  4. Windows Live
A bit of a surprise here with Google finishing third. Yahoo's shopping results, product reviews and the like seemed to be an attraction to those polled.

Product Search (Specific)

This involved searching for a branded product of interest... a Toyota Tacoma, an Apple iPhone etc. Compare a search in the four engines for the query "Apple iPhone".
  1. ASK
  2. Windows Live
  3. Yahoo
  4. Google
ASK's results included images, latest news, shopping comparisons, and additional search options. Google in contrast presented a Universal Search results page that included news stories.

Entertainment Search

This involves searching for information on bands, tour dates, movie releases etc. While the test that we did was not an official research project, we simply asked some friends to perform specific queries in the various search engines and comment on which results they felt were the most relevant. This was an interesting category as ASK was the clear favorite.
  1. ASK
  2. Google
  3. Yahoo
  4. Windows Live
Famous Person Search

This involved searching for an athlete, actor or musician.
  1. ASK
  2. Google
  3. Yahoo
  4. Windows Live
Geographic Search

This involved searching for a destination, specifically a city.
  1. ASK
  2. Google
  3. Yahoo
  4. Windows Live
Try a search for "Seattle" and see which engine you prefer. Of those polled, many did not like the fact that Google was displaying Wikipedia listings so high in the results.

Information Search (General)

This involved searching on a general topic of interest such as a things to do in Seattle, apple pie recipes etc.
  1. Google
  2. Yahoo
  3. ASK
  4. Windows Live
Our "test group" found that for a general information search Google still has the most relevant results.

The study although not anything official provided some interesting insight as to what some people think of the search engine results. Of surprise was the fact that ASK topped a number of the categories. Not surprising for me personally as I love ASK results (depending on the type of query I perform.) It will be interesting to see how users react to the changes made to the results pages in the future. ASK had a great year in 2007, maybe they will be able to lure more users away from Google. Windows Live needs work, although they have began to focus more on their search product.

If we look to where the results were five years ago and to where they are in 2007, all of the engines have improved the relevancy of the results. This can only get better for the user. Our fun little poll is not meant to change your use of your search engine of choice, but it does point out that depending on the type of query you perform, Google may not always be the best search engine to use. Again it gets back to the query that you use, you intent, your past experience an a plethora of other factors that come into play.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ 9:10 AM  
  • At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How many people were polled? What was the demographics of the participants, the data here seems very vague.

  • At 7:54 AM, Blogger Jody said…

    As mentioned this was not an official survey by any means we simply sampled some folks around the office, some family and friends and asked them, to perform a couple of generic queries... The one constant was that they had to perform the same query in each of the four engines.

    The point was that depending on the type of query that a user searched for, Google may not also provide the best results and/or user experience. On the other hand, for more informative type queries Google is the engine of choice... due in part to the relevant results returned.

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