At it’s most basic, the utilisation of search engine optimisation is to utilise the keywords essential to your business and make them appear higher on a search engines results. But lets be honest its all about how high on Google you are. You no longer search the internet, you Google it, raising the question of how much control they currently have over how internet traffic flows.
Beginning in 1997/98, Google quickly rose to become the largest search engine in terms of pages indexed in 2000, out competing all other existing options through more accurate and relevant results. 15 years later and they still hold the title, even more convincingly than before.
With the near ubiquitous control that the Alphabet Inc. owned search engine has, it allows it to administrate over a massive portion of internet users and what is seen and what is pushed to the sidelines is almost entirely in their control. Currently, Google holds the #1 Alexa Rank with unique monthly users numbering over 1.1 billion making almost 12 billion searches. Estimates of Google’s worldwide market share range from a conservative 65% to 90%, with strong usage by PC’s, tablets and smartphones.
The impact of Google’s dominating position is that one entity is able to control and direct such a large portion of the internet traffic, and administrators of websites are at their mercy if they want the exposure of first page results they desperately crave. In 2013 Google (including YouTube and Gmail) experienced a 5 minute blackout, which resulted in a 40% drop in all internet traffic. This demonstrates the crucial component in the modern internet experience that Google holds.
And herein lies the issue of a monopolistic entity, where Google controls such a massive portion of internet traffic, what happens when they stop being ethical in their operation as a search engine and start promoting an agenda that is not beneficial to the consumer? The European Union has voiced dissatisfaction about Google’s utilising its market position to restrict competition and censor content by directing internet traffic away.
So what other options exist to challenge Google’s throne? Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo! Search like to consider themselves competitors, and have recently seen an increase in their market share position relative to Google.
Bing represents the biggest threat to Google’s dominance, assisted by the default optioning on all Microsoft phones an aggressive marketing campaign to convince users that Bing is the superior search engine. Currently it has 350 million monthly users and the #24 spot on the Alexa Ranks. Their Bing it On campaign challenged you to engage in a blind test to see if which engine’s results you prefer for the search terms entered.
This move has an intelligent premise behind it, removing our bias towards Google’s results through familiarity and portray Bing’s results as equal or better. Unfortunately it seems that it may have reinforced many peoples opinion that Google is in fact the superior option, with many people, myself included, ending up with Google as the victor. There have also been accusations that Bing is being less than honest about the results, attempting to sway the results and your loyalty through disingenuous searches.
There are plenty of proponents of Bing out there, claiming the search quality is higher and more effective at finding video and photo sources, but it is clearly not doing much to sway the general population who are comfortable with using Google for all their surfing and searching needs.
Long term rival Yahoo! also bears mentioning, with 300 million monthly users and a Alexa Rank of #5. Last year the browser company Firefox signed a 5 year deal to make Yahoo the default search engine, resulting in a significant increase to users and market share, largely at the expense of Google.
Competition is essential to keep the internet open, however the inability of even a superpower like Microsoft to create a product that can consistently meets the needs of consumers better than Google does not give much hope for the area in the near future. It also means that for a web presence to be successful, you need to ensure SEO with Google above all else.
Have you ever given Bing a try and what do you think it would take for you to make it your default search engine?
This was written and researched on Google Chrome using Google so clearly I’m not swapping any time soon.