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Archive for the 'Search Industry News' Category

According to latest StatCounter data, Goolge has dropped below 90% of search engine market share – for the first time since July 2009. The presented figure of 89.94%, though is still a major headache for its competitors, Yahoo and Bing that combine to just over 8% of global search… In the European market the domination is even greater – Google has about 94% of market share.

Although Bing has surpassed Yahoo globally in January, in the US market Yahoo! is still a number two search engine, with 9.74% share compared to Bing’s 9.03%. Google has dropped below 80% once again, with 79.63%.

In Asia, Baidu has once again beaten Bing for the number three spot (Yahoo! is second). It must be noted however, that StatCounter only considers English searches so the results have to be viewed with care. For example, in Russia Google is reported as the market leader with 52% with Yandex having a figure of 46%, and in Czech Republic the picture looks even brighter for Google, which beats local Seznam 79% to 19%. Of course, when native language searches are considered, both Yandex and Seznam are more popular than Google in their local market.

But even so, in China, Baidu is a clear number one, with almost 70% of the market (compared to Google’s 29%) and in South Korea Naver is back to absolute majority (55.15%), with both Google and recently launched Daum both loosing ground (31.7% and 7.85% respectively).

Bringing the most relevant results to the user is the quest of every search engine. Fighting spam is one aspect of this issue. The other one is personalization – showing the results that would be the most interesting to the SPECIFIC searcher. Hence the localization, hence the search history….

Bing has recently followed Google on that path, applying city-based localization to the query results in the US. It will now give additional weight to local businesses, especially service providers. This is another step forward, as the local Bing searches in various countries are showing different results for quite a while already. However, for big countries, such as the States this might be not enough – so additional refinement is now applied, based on the city you are in. It must be noted, the results are not entirely different – it is just that local businesses are given some “extra points” by the search algorithm.

Another aspect is using your past search queries in the results. The Bing (as does Google for some time already) tries to “learn your preferences” based on the searches you conduct and the results you pick from the presented list. Those will be stored in search history and shown more frequently (or higher) in the result list when similar query is submitted.

It seems that “those who bought this also liked that” feature, used by many online stores and other websites is now entering the SE world.

How big should you be to successfully fight Google and beat it? Pretty big probably. Far bigger than and DuckDuckGo. Even being a multibillion company, such as Microsoft, is not enough – Bing is still behind in the SE battle. Having the law in your hands, however, might help. Especially, if you are the law. Especially in China.

Chinese government has a very strict policy considering the internet, and censorship of information is a major part of it. Back in 2006, Google has agreed to censor the results, despite the critics – a footstep on the Chinese soil was too big to give up at the time. However, when issues arouse in Jan 2010, with the renowned “hacking human right accounts” accusation, they stopped the censorship. And then the government stopped them. Since January 2010 nobody can access Google from inside China (Honk Kong is one exception with the British influence sealing certain autonomy even under Chinese rule). Other options, such as Baidu, who was local Search Engine market leader even when Google was there, or the recently launched are, of course, available.

After one year without the about-500-million Chinese users, it seems Google is willing to at least negotiate. According to Google’s Patrick Pichette, the company is going to re-enter the Chinese market soon, opening new horizons to the people of China. The question, of course, remains about the compromises that have to be reached with the Chinese government. Currently, it seems that the communists have the upper hand, as Google needs China more than China needs Google…

The “Slash-the-web” engine is trying to gain ground on its bigger rivals, Google and Bing. The mark of thirty million queries was passed in January – a decent accomplishment for Blekko, launched in November 2010. Additionally, over 100K new slashtags were created by users and editors. If you are not familiar with this term, I would definitely recommend visiting and checking out their concept of bringing the most relevant results for the specific user.

Fighting Spam is the trend of today, and Blekko’s “spam clock”, introduced about a month ago, was another trigger for this trend. Next they announced removing several “low quality” websites from the search results (including the quite popular eHow and Expert-Exchange) before ten days, stating that this “black list” will grow.

Other recent Blekko activity included launching an iPhone and Android app, pretty similar to the desktop version and offering almost all of its features, and integrating Facebook “Likes” into its results. A partnership with DuckDuckGo can be another step to counter Google, combating it out of the “spam” field. Of course, there is a long, long way to go, but for now the key is probably staying in the news and adding new features.

I am really getting tired of Google presenting information and blog posts from 2007. The authority Google gives to these old blog posts and news items causes their results for particular topics to just STINK.

So I jump search engines to BING or for today trying Blekko. Both these engines tend to do a better job weeding out some old content from their results which is great. But…..and this needs to be BUT….

What is with the results in BING and BLEKKO showing websites from every English speaking country? A search on Blekko for “promotional mugs” presents results from all over the world, and although not quite as bad the same thing happens with BING.

Which search engineers decided that it is a good idea to present these international results to a US search query? It seems to me that this is the most basic part of a relevancy algorithm.

I can provide free tips to the engineers at Blekko and Bing:

1.) if the domain ends in these results should be provided to people searching in the United Kingdom.

2.) if the domain ends in these results should be provided to people searching in Australia.

3.) if my IP address is based in the United States, please only show me websites whose IP address is in the US. (Take this same theory and apply it to whatever country the search query originates from).

It is really sad when in general the entire internet community is looking for alternatives to Google, and this is the best competition we can come up with?

No wonder Google is taking over…..

Beside the big and known Google, Yahoo, Bing, Blekko and and the local leaders Baidu and Tandex, there are several other, “little” search engines – such as HotBot and DuckDuckGo. The latter was launched in 2008 and has a very, very limited market share with about 2.5 million searches a month. However, everyone is trying to gain ground these days – and if this is done on expense of Google – it is even better.

DuckDuckGo tries to gain users by emphasizing their pretty unique approach – they do no store search data. Either this is done on purpose or the company simply does not have the necessary resources, the manner is now advertised as being solely correct.

In an aggressive marketing campaign, the company specifically highlights “the Google way” of “invading your privacy”, stating that with little effort, your search history associated with computer IP and, stored at Google servers can be tracked down to you in person. Next goes your personal data, credit history, insurance policy etc.

Although the campaign (as most advertising campaigns) is not entirely correct, purposely exaggerating the “big brother” threat of in its quest of “making the privacy aspects of search engines understandable to the average person” (quoted is DuckDuckGo founder, Gabriel Weinberg), it might have an effect on certain privacy-concerned users. Will they switch to DuckDuckGo or go elsewhere? That is another question, of course… and Bing are very anxious to prove the world they can beat Google. Even in minor things, like Image Search that Bing was enhancing constantly over last several month. Or in a Search Engine Jeopardy contest, managed by Stephen Wolfram. Well, it seems Google competitors still have some work to do, as the Search Industry leader was victorious once again.

The SE Jeopardy consisted of Jeopardy questions randomly selected form a database of around 200000 that were fed into the search queries of various engines. The developers then looked at the number of correct answers that appeared in the search results page and also at the number of correct answers that were included in the page that search engines presented as the top result.

The results were as follows:

Percentage of correct answers appearing somewhere on the first page: Google – 69%; – 68%, Bing – 63%, Yandex – 62%, Blekko – 58%, Wikipedia – 23%.

Percentage of correct answers appearing in the top result of the page: Google – 66%; Bing – 65%, Yandex – 58%, – 51%, Blekko – 40%, Wikipedia – 29%.

Obviously Wikipedia didn’t stand too much chance, as it was only one website competing against “the whole internet”. Still, it must be noted that only about one-third of Jeopardy answers are already in Wikipedia…

As to Search Engines – Google has beaten the competition, although the margins are not that big. But based on these results, Ask and Blekko have to do a better job of listing the most relevant link at the top (see how their percentage dropped when they looked into the first document. And Bing is “almost there” – but still a fraction behind Google.

Yandex numbers were very impressive, as it is basically a local Russian search engine. If the test has been done in Russian (or at least, based on Russian Jeoprdy Analogue, “Svoya Igra”, which includes fewer questions about American culture and history) Yandex would probably beat Google – exactly as it does in the Russian Search Engine market.

In summary, nobody can beat Google in providing relevant information. Not just yet. So, when you want to know “What is” something – don’t ask and don’t bing. Google it!

With so many Search engines out there (beside the “Big Three” of Google, Yahoo and Bing, there are also,, and many, many others) it is pretty hard to make an impact on the Search Industry. You have to present something completely new and fresh in order to persuade searchers to use your engine. Of course, bringing the “most relevant” search results can do the trick, but who knows what is really “most relevant”? And people will probably prefer sticking to the familiar look of, mostly, Google, or some other Search engine they have labeled as “my favorite”.

A different approach is to apply to user convenience. A user-friendly GUI, new way of presenting the results, easier navigation – all these features have the chance of attracting potential searchers. And has made a move in this direction. Powered by Google, presents the “usual” list of search results. The nice thing is that you don’t have to open a new browser window or tab to view them (although you have an option to do that as well). When you click on certain link in the result list, a mini-window opens, presenting you the related page. The content is optimized within the mini-window, making it easy to read. Clicking another search results link will open another mini-window then another and so on. Those windows can be, of course, maximized to the size of full browser window – but with most users using bigger monitors, this is probably not necessary.

One major drawback of the new search is that when you click a link INSIDE the mini-window, it will still open in the new browser window – a rather inconvenient step “backwards”. Hopefully, this can be improved in the near future.

Everybody knows that Yahoo US has teamed up with Bing in order to fight Google in the North American search market. In other parts of the world, however, strange things are happening.

Since the start of 2011, Yahoo and Bing are also a joint force in Australia, Mexico and Brazil. In the UK, however, the deal has not been sealed yet. And although people are saying that it is only a matter of time, noticing that certain Yahoo search results look identical to Bing and speculating about “two different indexes”, it is yet to be seen whether Yahoo UK will be powered by Bing in the end. Why not, anyway? Where will Yahoo go? To Google? Well, yes!

Yahoo! Japan, for example, has made a partnership with Google. The deal (Google US will supply the technology for Yahoo! Japan) was recently approved by the FTC (Fair Trade Commission) – a body responsible for preventing monopolization of the markets. And although the ratification is not permanent, and FTC stated they will monitor the activity of the combined team closely, it was a major hit for both Microsoft and local search engines. Yahoo US was not very happy either, but was unable to stop the move, as it only own about 30% of Yahoo! Japan.

With Google being the most popular search engine in the world, and particularly in the US, it is not yet gained enough ground in non-English speaking countries. While in India, the UK and Australia Google is the runaway leader in Search Engine competition, there are still countries in which local search engines are quite successful in opposing the G- giant. Baidu is number one in China (and there is also a new player in the SE field, supported by the government –, and most former USSR-countries internet users (Russian speakers) prefer Yandex over Google.

Yet, Google is trying hard to get into the local markets. Recently, it has reported a successful takeover of the number one spot in Czech Republic, surpassing the local leader in the first week of 2011.

Seznam, however, does not agree, stating that the statistics are not conclusive, and presents different figures, such as having almost 70% of Czech internet “population” with about 4 million users. Moreover, emphasizes the misleading inaccuracy, as Google statement is based on report that takes into account both local and global pages, while Seznam only concentrates on Czech-based domains. They are also accusing Google of “refusing to participate in official measuring”.

Well, whether Google report is accurate or not is not very significant. The important fact is that Google puts an enormous amount of effort to increase the grasp of local, non-English-speaking markets.