Yahoo, the supposed #2 search engine with a reported 23.6% market share generates less than a percent of my search traffic. This holds true for other sites that I examined. Google consistently comes out on top by an 90% margin!
Below, I have compiled a list of the top referring search engines for 10 web sites where I had log access. The results point to a shocking conclusion that Google’s true market share may be upwards of 80%!
My Blog (Michikono.com / Michiknows.com)
My blog enjoys a lot of search traffic due to the ever increasing amount of technical articles I write.
That’s no mistake. Not even a full percentage point for Yahoo. I thought, “well maybe my readers are the type that loves everything Google?” We’ll find out that my theory didn’t stand for long…
Most of Plurker’s traffic comes from people searching for their own screen names. Thus, I figure it would be a good representation of search quality. It is also heavily optimized for search engines and has dedicated pages (with titles) for each screen name. And yet…
Ask Jeeves 0.3%
Yahoo seems to be 1/10th of where it should be.
While I only recently launched LetsTorrent, I noticed that the top spider is Yahoo Slurp (Yahoo’s spider). Surely the percentages will be right here, right? No!
Unknown search engines 1.2%
Yahoo doesn’t even show up! But maybe the site just has no real content and thus it gets lower priority? Can we give Yahoo a break here? I would, except it does appear Yahoo has the site in its index.
After the recent GoogleTV hoax, a lot of people searched for the “Loco Google” mentioned in the video. Thus, after I created GoogleLoco, I had a big influx of search visitors looking for this hoax site. Surely those would represent some kind of proportional search traffic, right? Right?
Unknown search engines 0.3%
Nope. Yahoo doesn’t even show up. Yes, it’s in Yahoo’s index.
uQuad has a pretty large number of sub-pages, including a restaurant directory and enjoys a large amount of search traffic.
Unknown search engines 0.7%
…And yet it still is heavily skewed toward Google.
I figured that maybe my sites are statistical anomalies. So I decided to get a second opinion since most of my sites are relatively small. Below are stats to five more (much larger) sites, none of which I operate. I won’t disclose the site names for privacy reasons. All of these sites have been around for at least a year, are optimized for search spidering, and have middle tier Page Ranks. Again, these are incoming traffic numbers from search engines for February.
A funny picture site:
Unknown search engines 1.8%
Ask Jeeves 1.6%
Web hosting service (this is the lowest of all 10):
Another hosting service:
Ask Jeeves 1.5%
Unknown search engines 1.8%
A video site:
Google 80.1% (12,492 hits)
Yahoo 7.3% (1,132 hits)
Unknown search engines 3.2%
A proxy service:
Google 90.4% (13,908 hits)
Yahoo 4% (619 hits)
Unknown search engines 2%
Summary of Results
Across 10 sites, The average Google share is 88.1% and the median is around 92%!
Possible Explanation (and Why Current Search Metrics are Broken)
It perplexed me that Google is reported to have a share as low as 44%. While researching this matter, I found a blog entry with the same conclusion as me, but I then stumbled across another article that explains what’s going on. In it, the man argues a stupid, but sobering point about search stats:
Search referrals are different than number of searches performed.
For example, let’s say I am looking for GoogleLoco.com using the term “Google Loco”:
- On Google I’ll find it on the first try (click to see why) – One search.
- On Yahoo, I wouldn’t find it until page 5 (have fun getting there) – Five searches.
In fact, since I have no referrals from Yahoo on GoogleLoco, we might just conclude that people searched and didn’t even make it to my site!
Who else realized search engines are graded on such retarded metrics? By that logic, it’s almost in Yahoo’s interest to maintain crappy results to ensure users are trying more queries! If they improve their search relevancy, they stand to lose market share due to more people finding stuff on the first try!
Lastly, this also is telling about the number of people that use each search engine. Yahoo may have half the queries of Google, but Google is bringing 10 times more visitors! And yet, Google only has double the queries? What’s that mean? If the Google-Yahoo referrer ratio is around 10:1, then the average Yahoo visitor is doing 5x more queries than the average Google user! Of course, the scary part is that these logs indicate a ratio of more like 20:1.
This explains why I don’t know anybody that uses Yahoo.
Note: Google Image Search hits are merged with “Google.” All stats on this page was collected through Awstats. Last I checked, Awstats does not have a Google bias.