What would happen if Google was no longer the single most dominant search engine, and search market share was divided up evenly between three or four players? That is an interesting discussion at Search Engine Watch.
Google has earned its place as the big dog, primarily because they have worked hard to produce the most relevant results. Yahoo! entered the fray but because they simply wanted to be a “me too” engine, and not develop any new technology to make them stand out as a player, has lost a golden opportunity to compete with Google. When Yahoo! launched, they had almost 45% market share. They are now down to under 20%. MSN plans to roll out its new search technology early next year and have a real opportunity to build market share of their own. They are looking to be innovative in their results and not settle as a “me too” engine. With the PR effort that Microsoft is known for, they have a chance at meeting or beating Google in the market share wars. I would also like to see Yahoo! take the initiative to get back into the game and give us a reason to go there over Google and MSN.
I’ve always been an advocate of having more than one search engine dominate the search market share. I thought it would be interesting to analyze the pros and cons of having only one search engine hold a virtual monopoly on search engine market share.
Cons of a Multi-Engine Dominated Search Market
- Optimization for many engine is more difficult than a single engine
- Unlikely to achieve top results on ALL top market share engines
- A top ranking on a single search engine will produce less traffic and revenue overall
- May increase level of spam as “SEO” firms have more results to manipulate
Pros of Multi-Engine Dominated Search Market
- Multiple avenues to drive traffic to your site
- Searching switching engines for the same search provides more opportunity for site branding
- Competition for “top spots” less fierce as some will focus on rankings for one engine over another
- Algorithm changes on one engine, causing loss of top rankings, will not devastate a business
- Increase in search relevance as spam fighting on the part of the engines steps up another notch
I believe in search, the more competition for search market share, the better. But its going to take more than just being another search engine, to compete against Google any new competitor is going to have to offer something unique that makes them stand apart from the others. There are three big players right now (Google, Yahoo! and MSN) but Google by far outweighs all.
Considering how leveling the playing field works to the interest of businesses I recommend a very simple course of action. Use more than a single engine to search. Don’t get stuck in a rut utilizing only the search engine that is browsers home page. Move around a bit, try your searches elsewhere and see what engine provides results you like for various searches. Spreading your search traffic around will give other engines something to compete for and give your business opportunities you otherwise might not have had.