With the laser-like focus the media gives to Google, it’s easy to forget that there are still other search engines jockeying for market share. Last week, comScore released its US monthly search engine ranking and it had some interesting information marketers. Google is still on top, but Bing is making steady progress. Meanwhile, search engines with smaller audiences struggle to stay afloat.
Google ended the year with a commanding 67.3 percent of search share. It was a 0.6 percent increase from the previous month, but it was still slightly down from the all-time high that Google set in February 2013 when its search share reach 67.5 percent. In December 2012, Google’s share of search was 66.7 percent, so the search giant is still growing. With two out of three US searchers turning to Google, the search engine will continue to be the de facto standard for SEO and a key choice for advertisers.
Though Google will clearly reign supreme for the foreseeable future, the comScore ratings did have good news for Microsoft. Bing ended 2013 at 18.2 percent search share which is an all-time high market share of search activity inside the US. Though Bing only gained 0.1 percent from the previous month, its year-over-year growth was nearly 12 percent. Bing was only at 16.3 percent this time last year. Now that nearly one in five Americans are using Bing, marketers may want to consider the platform when planning a search advertising budget.
Since both Google and Bing grew in market share over the past year, other search engines had to face significant declines in their market share. Yahoo’s search share slipped to an all-time low of 10.8 percent. The decline has been part of a disturbing trend for Yahoo. Earlier in October, the company admitted it’s problem.
“It is true that, over the past several years, our search share has declined,” said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. “In terms of the search alliance, we’re trading share with Microsoft.”
Business owners and marketers can’t be too quick to abandon Yahoo for marketing purposes. A 10 percent share is still a significant audience and Yahoo is working to improve it’s platform.
“We’re endeavoring to gain share. We’re designing new functionality, differentiating functionality,” said Mayer in the October conference call. “We’re doing direct display units that bring the content right to the user in search results.”
The December comScore numbers show that Yahoo’s efforts have yet to bare fruit.
In some ways, looking at the bottom of the comScore ratings is like a trip down the internet memory lane. Ask.com is still around and accounted for about 2.5 percent of search traffic and AOL’s search services accounted for only 1.3 percent. Both are relatively unchanged from their market share of a month ago, with each losing 0.1 percent. Ask.com and AOL are still around, but their users are an endangered species, and at their current rate of decline, it may not take a while before they are completely obsolete.
The growth and decline of search engines in 2013 should remind business owners that competition among search engines is alive and well. This can be good news for marketers for several reasons. Smaller search engines have unique opportunities for marketing because the prices are cheaper and there are fewer advertisers to compete with. Additionally, search engines like Yahoo are working on innovative features to bring back searchers and advertisers. These changes can mean new opportunities for business owners in 2014.