We can each spend so much time concerned with how our website/s are ranking on Search EnginesÖ Letís step back for a minute and look at how Search Engines themselves are ranking. Where are people, our customers, searching? Which Search Engines are delivering bulk of results? With answers to these questions we can re-focus our efforts to ensure that were not wasting our time trying to gain exposure in wrong places.
There are two ways we can rank search engines. The first, is in terms of Popularity; number of people that are using search engines to find products, services and information. The second, and perhaps most important factor from a marketing point of view, is Audience Reach; number of search portals that a Search Engine is showing its results through each day, thereby reaching maximum number of people.
First, lets look at Popularity. The following search engine popularity figures were compiled by Neilson/NetRatings, a provider of digital audience information and analysis. This company monitors over 225,000 individuals in 26 countries to gather its Internet usage results.
In October 2002, Search Engine Popularity in U.S. was as follows:
Google 29.2% Yahoo 28.5% MSN 28.1% AOL 19.7% Ask Jeeves 10.3% Netscape 5.5% Overture 5.4% InfoSpace 5.1% AltaVista 4.4% Lycos 4.4% LookSmart 3.0% Earthlink 1.8%
(source: Search Engine Watch)
These figures tell us a lot about search engine usage; where people are going to find their information. But what they donít tell us are more important facts about how widespread each search engineís listings are across Internet as a whole.
Letís look at this from a marketing perspective. Most major search engines have agreements in place with each other and with different search portals to display their results. This means that their Audience Reach is actually much larger or smaller than Neilson/NetRatings results suggest.
Although actual figures are hard to determine, hereís how search engines rank from perspective of Audience Reach:
1. Google Every web user, in every country, has access to Googleís search results. As well as providing results via its own search pages, Google supplies search results to Yahoo, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Netscape, EarthLink and AT&T. Search services InfoSpace, IWON and Simpatico.ca (Canada) also display their listings. A high ranking listing at Google will return an enormous amount of targeted traffic to your site because of its wide audience reach through partner search sites.
2. Overture (formally GoTo.com) Overture is a pay-per-click search engine. Its audience reach is also extremely wide. Overtureís top three search results are displayed as premier listings on Altavista, MSN, Lycos, AllTheWeb(aka FAST), Excite and Go.com. Its results are also displayed on hundreds of smaller search portals. If your goal is to gain maximum exposure within a few days and you are prepared to pay for it, Overture will deliver maximum audience reach.
3. Inktomi Inktomi is not a search engine as such, but a database comprised of paid listings delivered to its search partners. Inktomi results are usually displayed on each of its partners sites as secondary search results. Its listings are displayed at: MSN, LookSmart, About.com, HotBot, Overture, espotting.com (Europe) Terra.co(Spanish network), goo.ne.jp (Japan)