For over a decade, Google has been the undisputed king of search traffic, receiving over 1 billion searches every single month. Lately though, Bing/Yahoo have been hot on their heels implementing new plans to garner new traffic. In an earlier post, Are You Placing All OF Your Eggs Into One Basket, we covered reasons as to why you should spread your focus around, taking advantage of more than one traffic stream. This also pertains to search engines as well. Today we’re going to talk about why focusing efforts on Bing/Yahoo may be as lucrative (if not more) than ONLY utilizing Google.
In mid July of 2012, long time Google executive, Marisa Mayer was appointed the new CEO of Yahoo. Mayer’s influence has brought numerous changes as to how Yahoo operates, which in my opinion, is the #1 reason as to why this search engine will continue to grow in popularity. Mayer is incredibly adept at understanding what is needed to draw in the masses.
During a company earnings call this past week, Mayer admitted that Yahoo has a strong commitment to mobile, disclosing that their mobile user base grew 15% to 380 million in the last quarter alone. For those that are unaware, in countries such as Egypt, 70% of all internet traffic is mobile (59% in India and 25% in the US) and expected to continue rising as new technologies in mobile devices are released. Needless to say, there is a lot of earning potential in mobile advertising as mobile searches continue to rise and Yahoo seems to be at the forefront of it all. In July, Comscore noted that Yahoo actually received more traffic (196.6 million unique visits) than Google (192.3 million unique visits) for that month. It’s highly likely that Yahoo’s new efforts to improve mobile traffic are the direct cause.
Although Google still easily overtakes both Yahoo and Bing in overall searches per month (despite the snafu in July), customer satisfaction ratings for Google have reached an all time low. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has been performing satisfaction reports on all of the major search engines since 2003. In mid July however, Google received its lowest score to date at 77% satisfaction rate. Bing and Yahoo both received a 76% satisfaction rating, which is slightly down from last year, but not as considerable of a drop as Google encountered. This means that unless Google begins to step their game up, users may begin to try out other search engines. This can actually be observed as Bing has begun receiving a larger share of search traffic than ever before while it seems that Google has leveled out, showing little, if any growth year to year.
Just a week and a half ago, Bing released a new ad format called “Bing Hero Ads” in an attempt to one up Google’s image banners in search listings. Although it is currently only available to users that have the newly released Windows 8.1 for a limited amount of branded companies, this is only considered the pilot version. As a user searches for a specific brand, they are greeted with a large banner image that advertises that specific brand. Soon enough, Bing will roll out the full web version which predicts the user’s intent and an added level of branding for the company being searched. Some feel as if this is simply a way for Bing to cater to big company brands, but many fail to realize that when a user searches for a specific brand in the search query, they are almost always looking for the specific brand website and not a third party alternative. For sites that want to build added authority or have third party sites attempting to leech off of their popularity, the banner ads may be well worth it.
The last reason why Bing/Yahoo may make an excellent alternative to Google that we are going to touch on today is simply the continuous changes to Google’s search algorithm. Over the last several years, many have seen their sites go up, down, up, and down again in search traffic because of the ongoing changes that Google makes. Though both Bing and Yahoo often make changes to their algorithm as well, it is usually less invasive than what Google has done and will continue to do in the future.
All of this boils down to one major point; Google is the world leader in search traffic. This most likely will not change any time soon, BUT Google doesn’t have to be your only option. Both Bing and Yahoo offer big potential for the right marketers.