The humble search engine is the go-to guy of the internet. An inordinate amount of our browsing goes through a search engine channel, and the big players are doing everything they can to forever increase that traffic.
Knowing which search engines are the most used in your part of the world is vital to knowing how to optimise your website to please them. The major search engines have slightly different ways of ranking their results. Ensuring that your SEO is playing to the intricacies of the main search engine’s algorithms is essential for your website’s success.
So who are the most powerful players in the search engine game? As Australians, who do we need to keep in mind when it comes to our site’s optimisation?
No, Ask Jeeves, not you.
The Big Three
Throughout the world, you’ll see the same three names crop up again and again when it comes to search engine choices. Google, Yahoo and Bing (this is ignoring Baidu.com, China’s most popular search engine).
While it’s a real tussle between these three in some parts of the world, Australia is not one of those places.
Started as a university project in 1997, PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page wanted to create a better way to search the web. The most popular search engine of the time, AltaVista, simple gave results based on the amount of times your keyword appeared on a certain site. That meant that junk pages that were just wall-to-wall repeated keywords often came out on top, with no quality to back up their high ranking.
Google’s development was based on the idea of bringing a qualitative aspect to a search engine, where a site had to earn its high rank by proving itself over and above the simple keyword qualification.
By far and away the most popular search engine in Australia, Google now commands a huge percentage of Oz’s traffic. A quick look at Australia’s most popular websites only confirms this stranglehold. Google.com.au is the most visited site in Australia (more than doubling the visits of the next best, Facebook), while Google.com, Gmail and Google Maps all find a place in the top 10, along with the Google owned monolith of YouTube.
5 of Australia’s top 10 websites are run by Google. That is quite the effort. And when it comes to web searches, things aren’t too different. Statistics vary, but it is generally considered that over 90% of all Australian searches are run through Google. Worldwide, this dips to around 67%, still an astounding number.
Back in 2009, Microsoft could see its online presence was heading south. The heady days of MSN messenger were over, and its relevancy on the web was dropping off with it.
As an answer to this atrophy, Microsoft brought out Bing, a search engine that they said was even better than Google. Ever since, it has enjoyed an incremental rise in market share, and while most of that is likely from people being unable to figure out how to change the default search engine in their browser, it has brought Bing forward as the second most used search engine on the internet.
While the numbers in Australia are negligible, worldwide the Bing share of the market is a strong(ish) 18%. And when you take into account the fact that Bing actually now powers Yahoo search, that number rises to 29%.
Bing boasts a higher ‘success rate’ than Google – or so they say – which simply means that more people click on a result after searching. The fact that Google gives you information like the weather or sports results without the need to click seems to have been forgotten by the Microsoft team.
A powerhouse in many parts of the world, unfortunately for Yahoo, Australia isn’t one of them. While it still enjoys an Alexa rank of 7, search-wise, Yahoo has been on the wane for years now.
With the rise of Bing and the commanding presence of Google, Yahoo’s market share has wound down to 11% worldwide of late. It can feel safe in the knowledge that one of the web’s most powerful countries, Japan, still thinks it’s worth its salt, beating out Google for the title of both the most popular site and the most popular search engine there.
So what is the upshot of this? For Australians, it’s simple.
When you are looking at SEO strategies, you can feel safe in the knowledge that by concentrating on your Google performance, your due diligence is taken care of. It’s not a matter of balancing your SEO between multiple search engines. Us Aussies are Google through and through.
That said, at the end of the day, solid SEO is universal. If you get the fundamentals right, you’ll have success with every search engine.
No, Ask Jeeves, not you.