Google remains the industry giant, but its lead in the online search game is seeing increased competition from two major rivals: Yahoo and Bing.
That poses a tough question for marketers: Should their SEO strategy consider the lesser rivals to Google’s online search engine? Or does optimizing for Google alone get the job done?
The questions come in light of new numbers that show the modest but enduring strength of Bing and Yahoo against Google. According to the latest numbers from comScore, Google maintains 63.9 percent of the online search market share. Bing owned a 20.9 percent market share, followed by 12.5 percent for Yahoo.
Google maintained a sizable lead, but it did slip in terms of market domination. One year prior from the same month (November 2014), the company owned a 67 percent market share. Over that span of time, Microsoft grew its own share by 1.5 percent, while Yahoo improved by 2.2 percent, stealing much of those gains from Google.
The change in search share may seem insignificant, but it’s the product of very aggressive efforts by Bing and Yahoo to increase their stake in search traffic.
As Ad Age points out, Yahoo spent more than $223 million on search traffic acquisition in the third quarter of 2015 alone. That’s an incredible number given the modest returns it reaped. Yahoo also negotiated with Mozilla to be the default browser in Firefox.
Bing, meanwhile, used integrations in Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system to increase its own search share (Microsoft set a target of 1 billion downloads of its operating system by 2018). For all of that effort, the two companies only combined to steal three percent of market share from Google.
Those figures do illustrate, though, just how powerful Google’s own efforts are, and how valuable search traffic is to the companies. The surface may suggest only minor changes, but a massive tug-of-war is taking place.
When one single source accounts for nearly two-thirds of all online search traffic, it’s easy to say that optimizing content for Google is enough. And depending on your consumer base, that argument may be even stronger, since certain demographics—like Millennials—may use Google search even more heavily than the general population.
But HubSpot points out the long-term risk of accounting for just one search engine. If Google’s market share continues to decline, it will only increase the value of Yahoo and Bing and put marketers in even more of a bind. Time is precious, but HubSpot advocates dedicating some time to optimize for Bing and Yahoo—say 30 percent or less.
The reason: Some degree of search-engine-specific optimization can be easily done, and it can make a big impact on your traffic coming from those sources. And, if the tides do continue to turn and Google’s market share keeps on dropping, brands that have done some basic optimization will find themselves facing a less arduous task. Keep in mind that many of the SEO strategy steps taken with Google nowadays are tedious and time-consuming because they are relatively small changes. This degree of optimization isn’t necessary for Bing and Yahoo—not yet, anyway. But marketers should at least hit the high spots and address any glaring gaps.
Bing and Yahoo aren’t worth a huge chunk of any marketer’s time yet, but they can’t be counted out, and they still account for more than 30 percent of all online search traffic. Marketers don’t need to be told, but every little bit helps.
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