Yahoo Steals A Chunk Of Google’s Search Engine Market Share?

I come from a background in search.  I’m a search engine guy first, and a video guy second.  It’s just how I’m wired.  Which is why ReelSEO is such a great home for me, because I get to write about both.  Today, there’s some news about search engines that isn’t specific to video, but its implications affect people who produce any kind of content online, be it print, video, or other.

I read this morning that Yahoo would be switching to Bing to power most of its back end search results any day now.  There’s even supposed to be a “powered by Bing” logo added to the results pages. And I read that with a bit of excitement.  Bing is doing a lot of things right—so much so that many have accused Google of straight-up ripping Bing off with their search results redesign and the more-recent overhaul to their image search interface.

And Yahoo does so many other things right—mail, news, sports, weather, etc.—that it seems like the best move to let Bing handle the search engine portion so Yahoo can concentrate on their more successful endeavors.

But then news started trickling out over lunchtime that the new search market share numbers were out, and that Yahoo had made surprising strides.

Specifically, Google has dropped in market share for search from 66.2% in June to 65.8% in July… a dip of 0.4%, or roughly half of one percent.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has jumped… and jumped exactly the same amount, 0.4%  (Bing held steady at 11.0%, held at 3.8% again, and AOL dropped slightly from 2.4% to 2.3%).

This move in market share is a surprise to pretty much anyone that pays attention to these kinds of numbers.  When Bing first launched, complete with multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, it quickly raced up the market-share chart—but it was stealing share from Yahoo, not Google.

So why did Google lose market share in July?  Well, this article suggests that there’s been a change in how comScore calculates market share—it seems previously there were some contextual links that were being counted as traditional search queries, even though they were not.

But it’s also possible that 0.4% of search users simply switched for one reason or another.  Some might jump to conclusions and suggest that Google’s dabbling in all kinds of new products and services (mobile, Chrome, etc.) has finally started to impact the quality of their search results.  Others might suggest that the recent changes to search results interfaces (mentioned above) have driven away some users who were too tied to the old look and feel.

It’s clearly too small a change in market share to declare the sky is falling, and it’s too small a measurable window to be able to draw conclusions about the reasons behind the change. Nevertheless, it’s big time news whenever Google loses market share.  It’s even bigger news when Yahoo gains market share. I can’t remember the last time both of those things happened in one month.

What does this do for the whole Bing-taking-over-Yahoo-search announcement?  Will Yahoo have second thoughts now that they see some life in their own search division?  Or will the swap continue as planned?  I have a feeling it will continue, if only because it’s just one part of a years-long partnership between Microsoft and Bing—with Bing taking complete search control from Yahoo by 2012.

Market share numbers for one month are not the kind of thing that will derail this search deal.  But the timing of all this carries plenty of irony—Yahoo search gets accolades and praise on the week they give up a big chunk of control over their own search results.

For video producers—and creators of all kinds of content—it’s tempting to just ignore everyone except Google.  Tempting… but dangerous.  There’s no guarantee that Google will be the king of search for forever—remember, nobody expected to see Yahoo gain market share in search either.  And even if the market shares stay the same, I’m not sure it’s smart strategy to only target 65% of your potential viewing audience.  This is as good a time as any to test your content across multiple engines and make sure you’re ranking well across the board. Yahoo users are fiercely loyal, and if these comScore numbers are any indication… Yahoo’s Search presence might have life left in it yet.

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