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|Survey: Yahoo and MSN Gaining on Google|
Google still the top user choice
According to an Internetweek article [internetweek.com], user perceptions of Yahoo and MSN are improving. A survey showed that 81 percent of Yahoo searchers would return, compared to 61 percent for Microsoft and 92 percent for Google. Last June, the compararable stats were 72 percent, 55 percent and 93 percent, respectively.
For "consideration as their primary search engine", Yahoo scored 61 percent; Microsoft, 38 percent; and Google, 84 percent. Last June, the SEs scored 50 percent, 30 percent and 86 percent, respectively.
One factor in MSN's rise was their better delineation of sponsored listings.
It was the most reported and reported story [news.google.com] on the web yesterday and today. Unfortunatly, I don't believe the story was vetted.
At what point does a research firm gain that kind of credibility? I don't give the "report" nearly as much weight as others have. You could do the same survey tomorrow and have significantly different results.
It doesn't pass a smell test.
Is it really that perceptions are improving? I question this. To the average user, nothing has changed at the Big 3 search engines over the past year.
I think it's because so many search engines are disappearing or are no longer being actively promoted. People are congregating at the Big 3 because Lycos, Hotbot, Excite, Alta Vista etc. are no longer promoted.
Im my sector of widgets Google still remains supreme however I have to admit that this last year I have been trying other sources purely to view their "different" results.
Some I must admit, I have been very pleasantly surprised with, some have been a load of garbage, however these "different" results have enabled us new widget contacts with companies who are not so Google SEO savvy.
A year ago I could not have written this since Yahoo! and MSN were so bad they were never even a consideration. It's good to see that Google's dominance has given the others a wake-up call at long last.
Several of the smaller companies are also turning up good search results which has to be healthy all round surely?
>You could do the same survey tomorrow and have significantly different results.
Happens all the time.
Can't tell you how many research reports I've read that seemed credible, but after digging into the exact questions and methodologies used, and sometimes even going back and reviewing questionaires or sampled tapes of actual interviews, it would become clear that the conclusions/results were unreliable owing to any of the following:
--bad assumptions when designing the research
--errors of judgement or lack of experience/knowledge when designing the research (e.g., skewed or leading questions)
--conclusions made by the report writer that are not supported by the raw data (errors of judgement or lack of experience/knowledge)
--inappropriate or insufficient number of choices offered to the respondent
...and so on.
However, all that said, when a survey generats 'news' that seems to generally reflect changes in the marketplace, it can be worth noting. In this case, it does seem to me that Y's search product has gradually gotten better. And in particular, their local/geo searches now seem superior to any of the others.
Seems to me this one may be an indicator of a shifting marketplace. More data needed.
If you actually look at what is reported, it looks like it is only in the "Human Factors" that they improved, and I would have to agree with that. They are both nicer to use than they used to be. They did theis mostly by following Google's lead.
This doesn't mean that either MSN or Yahoo are gaining on google where it counts. It just means that if Google screws up, that there are now viable options.
But both the other companies have shown their true colors before when they were at the top of the heap in some area. Whould they go back to their old ways if they were to actually dethrone Google?
This doesn't mean that either MSN or Yahoo are gaining on google where it counts. It just means that if Google screws up, that there are now viable options.
Google has already screwed up....Look at the sandbox. I am constantly hearing from peers as well how google is not as good as it was just a year ago. Their Florida update was the first screw up and this last update was their second. Furthermore the sandbox is their third screw up with us webmasters. Webmasters have the ideal situation to help deter Google use because all we have to do is simply employ search engine's code on our webpages to promote the search engine of our choice. Surely if they keep pissing off webmasters with their sandboxing of sites they will lose our respect if they haven't already.
"This doesn't mean that either MSN or Yahoo are gaining on google where it counts. It just means that if Google screws up, that there are now viable options. "
Like when google continues to ignore bugs in it's algo?
"Google still the top user choice"
still is not good enough. Yahoo amd MSN make money from a lot of things, Google just from one thing.
[edited by: walkman at 8:44 pm (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]
|Google has already screwed up....Look at the sandbox. I am constantly hearing from peers as well how google is not as good as it was just a year ago. Their Florida update was the first screw up and this last update was their second. Furthermore the sandbox is their third screw up with us webmasters. Webmasters have the ideal situation to help deter Google use because all we have to do is simply employ search engine's code on our webpages to promote the search engine of our choice. Surely if they keep pissing off webmasters with their sandboxing of sites they will lose our respect if they haven't already. |
Don't forget about the pages hijacked via redirects. Google is often unable to discern original/intended urls from redirects. Originals subsequently get penalized/dropped. Yahoo corrected that issue within 60 days early in 2004. Google hasn't bothered to deal with it (certainly not in a "timely" manner). Who wants to use an engine full of redirects?
Google may screw up from the webmaster's point of view, but our view doesn't count for much when it comes to the end user.
If all my sites completely disappear from Google, I suspect that the number of people that would change from google would be in the low single digits. And those that would start using one of the other search engines as a backup option would be in the low double digits.
Even if Yahoo and MSN were serving up significantly better results in every case, they would only gain minimal market share until Google starts serving up total crap on all searches from a user's point of view.
It wasn't what AV did to the webmasters that caused the shift to Google, it was what they did to users. People were looking for something that was not selling positions, and Google was ready and waiting. AV was serving up results that were less than wonderful before that point, but people were not switching to better search engines until they felt they had to.
I think that every member of webmaster world could block googlebot, and the average end user would never know the difference. They certainly don't know or care about the sandbox.
The point is though that we SEO's "know" and hear about these "problems" but Joe Surfer neither knows nor cares and so long as Google keeps serving his/her relevant results they are unlikely to change.
I still use Google as my default SE however these days I am prepared to try other SE's for current results and to check our own rankings and how our optimisation is working whereas 12 months ago it was an impossibility.
Hehehe BigDave types faster than me!
And I nearly said the same thing about AV...
"The point is though that we SEO's "know" and hear about these "problems" but Joe Surfer neither knows nor cares and so long as Google keeps serving his/her relevant results they are unlikely to change. "
For the most part I agree, but it also depends how severe the problem becomes, and for how long Google keeps ignoring the redirect and sandbox issues. It's not an overnight switch but it could happen one Joe Surfer at a time. Arrongance can bring you down!
>but it also depends how severe the problem becomes
This may be an issue for us however is it for Joe Surfer who keeps getting the results they are looking for?
I'm in the UK and it amazes me just how many women use AskJeeves as their default SE!
I'm not saying anything is wrong with Ask however their advertising said something like "Ask Jeeves any question you like" seemed to have hit home a long time ago and my female friends even tell me that it is so easy to use, they don't want to "learn" how to use another SE!
When I try to explain saying that it is no different to any other SE the response is "I'm happy, I find what I want"...
This is the nut that Yahoo! and MSN have to crack, call it complacency if you like but until someone can show Joe Surfer a very specific reason to change, they will not...and guess who told them to use Google in the first place? We did...!
Can we change their engrained habits now? I think it would be very difficult since I would guesstimate that the vast majority of Joe Surfers have grown up using the Net and Google hand in hand and so long as it does not have too many tantrums, why should they change?
Remember, we work within the industry all the time and see the good, the bad and the ugly, Joe Surfer does not and so long as everything keeps working to their satisfaction, it would take an enormous budget and a seismic change of attitude to make inroads into Google's current dominance.
"This is the nut that Yahoo! and MSN have to crack, call it complacency if you like but until someone can show Joe Surfer a very specific reason to change, they will not...and guess who told them to use Google in the first place? We did...! "
You made my point. As I said it doesn't happen overnight. Between several issues (spam, redirect flaws, sandbox, bought links etc), eventually quality is affected. Not drastically but enough in certain areas.
One day Joe1 searches for something and is not thrilled with the results. Tries Yahoo and it includes more relevant results because of no 302 flaws, no sandbox etc. Joe2 does the same and so on. Joe1 has a blog and also many other tech bloggers and writters notice that Y! or MSN has caught up if not surpassed google. This is how it happens, word of mouth. I don't recall Google filling the airwaves with their ads to become popular.
To hurt Google, other engines don't need 90% of the market, every percentage counts.
What will hurt Google is when webmasters in the millions start to advertise other search engines on their sites. If only 1 in 10 use the search engine off of our sites and find better results for what they are looking for do you think it will tell that search user anything about Google's deteriorating SERP's? Now times that by however many sites each webmaster admin's. I myself never used MSN and now I use it daily. I used to use Google everyday but not anymore. Why should I when I can't even get relevant results? Nothing is more annoying than going to a site that appears to have what your searching for and it's nothing but a PPC content site. These particular sites seem to dominate google's serps in my industry. Some say Google Adsense has no bearing on where your listed in SERPS but I have a hard time believing that when these crap PPC content sites dominate the top 10 and have zero content. It's quite sick when a text link dominates because the webmaster crosslinked his couple hundred content sites!
Bring the heat MSN!
OptiRex, you're absolutely right. Users need an outstanding reason to switch from their preferred search engine. Yahoo and MSN will be banging their heads against the door unless something drastic happens at Google, like their servers crash for days or they start charging for searches.
Merely annoying web site design will not cause entrenched customers to flee.
Look what's happened with MyWay. MyWay saw that people were fed up with Yahoo's ad saturation, so they rebuilt Yahoo without the nonsense. It's clearly a lot faster to use, yet after spending millions in advertising, who uses MyWay? No one.
MLHmptn, you are choosing your search engine due to your personal anger at Google. 99.98% of search engine users are not webmasters and could give a fig about "sandboxing" or any of the other buzzwords that are thrown around here. If angry webmasters gang up on Google to promote MSN or Yahoo, you know how much effect that will have on Google's bottom line? Nada. Zilch. ZERO.
Webmasters angry at Google, or any search engine for that matter, would be better served fixing their sites. Whining about "unfairness" accomplishes nothing.
We all realize that "Joe User" may not notice the types of bugs we are talking about. At least not yet. But the bugs are significant because they seem to display Google's lack of concern for the search results (in my opinion). The redirect problem, for instance, has been discussed for a year now. Email after email to Google with examples has accomplished nothing. I imagine the redirect problem has grown to affect many more people than it did a year ago since Google has done nothing. The tracker2.php redirect urls that have caused many original urls to be dropped are STILL indexed. The problem will only continue to grow. That sort of incompetence/negligence also speaks volumes to investors who may be considering the long-term stability of the company.
I am just speaking outloud here because I am frustrated with Google's apparent lack of concern for some of the problems we have been discussing for a year now. It is my hope that all sites that have been affected by the possible sandbox or obvious redirects will recover this year. It will require Google to admit there is a problem and assign programmers to fix the bugs.
"Webmasters angry at Google, or any search engine for that matter, would be better served fixing their sites. Whining about "unfairness" accomplishes nothing. "
post your URL in the profile so we can submit it to a few spammy directories with Meta refresh links and try "fixing your site". Let's see how good "fixing your site" does to you. Otherwise, please spare us the preaching.
Just making a point, I wouldn't submit it anyway.
[edited by: walkman at 12:28 am (utc) on Jan. 15, 2005]
|These particular sites seem to dominate google's serps in my industry. |
This whole "in my industry" thing is where webmasters go wrong in evaluating things. The SERPs may actually be crap in the big money search in your industry. I come across them all the time (more often in yahoo and MSN than Google). Then I change my search term a little bit and Eureka!
It isn't one or two searches that change people's minds. The majority of searches have nothing to do with money keywords or your industry. And results certainly are not considered bad just because your site is not listed.
Heck, they aren't even considered bad if the majority of the sites on the first page are bad, they are only bad if ALL the results are bad.
Do some searches that some normal person would do outside the spammed out areas. Let's try [2005 corvette]. Which SE has the worst results?
I would have to say "none of them". If I was using MSN I certainly would not switch to Google because of the results, nor woulc I run from yahoo or google.
Since travel is an often quoted area of problems let's try [hotle portland oregon]. it looks to me like google points you to more actual hotels than either MSN or Yahoo! but certainly not enough better to cause anyone to switch. Hell, some people would prefer the sites that give them options instead of specific hotels.
Of course you can find plenty of searches that are better, even significantly better, in each of the search engines. But as it stands, it appears to me that there are more people still switching to google than there are switching away from google.
You can certainly feel free to try and change that, I just don't think you are going to have much success.
I stand by my comments, and I did read your original unedited message. Is there an Ignore feature here?
I stand by my comments, and I did read your original unedited message. Is there an Ignore feature here? "
if I remember correctly, on edit I just added the last line that I wouldn't submit it. That said, others might so post your perfect URL since it's our fault and our site aren't good enough..
The bottom line is a particular person likes Googles approach. There is something refreshing about going to a search engine w/o all the clutter, ads and wasted load time of MSN & YAhoo. Until a better ad free engine comes along, much of the public will stick with Google.
|Webmasters angry at Google, or any search engine for that matter, would be better served fixing their sites. |
Can we rephrase it as "Webmasters angry at Google, or any search engine for that matter, would be better served trying to match their sites with the search engine algo wherever possible, for users are unlikely to change their habits overnight."
I do not give a rip about any engine as long as I am on the first page of all of them, which in general I am. I can see yahoo, msn gaining in my logs. This is across the board in my 30 or so sites.
Saturday with a hangover!
Anyway, I just want to play the Devil's Advocate for a moment.
It is very easy for any of use to criticise any search engine for the results it delivers and especially so when "our" pages are not delivered as the most relevant results.
Insofar as I am aware none of the posters here is a Google Algo Master and, again, none of us actually "know" what the algo criteria depends upon, therefore if YOU were building a search engine to deliver results what would be YOUR most relevant factors to take into account and deliver?
For instance, let's take the word football! Great eh?
Football means a totally different thing to either side of the Atlantic and Pacific however the results are all very impressive and good work to the webmasters who got to the top of 87 million! I stopped looking after 50 results for any spam...why is that?
Is there no money in football?
See what I mean? The relevancy is in the eye of the beholder and certainly the big money industries such as travel and insurance are fighting like hell to be at the top since they financially "know" the difference between being top dog and an also ran.
So back to my Devil's Advocate cloak...how would you improve any search engine results without an outcry from all the people who are currrently ranking well.
And before shooting from the hip remember this. At the end of the day Google's algo is a filter and there is always someone who will try and circumvent that filter to gain a pecuniary advantage, that, unfortunately, is human nature and explained in Darwin's Evolution of Life.
I am honest, you are honest, is your next door neighbour honest, is your brother/sister honest? These are the challenges we and Google/Yahoo/MSN face every day. Have you ever wondered just how many spammers read all the advice here, suck that knowledge in and never contribute?
There is no perfect filtering system and it's doubtful there ever will be unless we all pay for our results to be shown and then who gains the most advantage? The guy with the deepest pocket?
|I can see yahoo, msn gaining in my logs. This is across the board in my 30 or so sites. |
Really? Across the board? Do all your sites have the same basic design? I just can't imagine that it would be so consistant given my results.
I have quite a mixed bag. Yahoo is down on all the big sites, but up on some of the smaller ones. I suspect that is because they just don't crawl as deep so I don't hit on as many keywords.
There are some sites where MSN doesn't even provide as much traffic as Google Images, and yahoo is serving only a little over twice as much. Google is up to 87.6% of my SE traffic on that one.
It also makes a difference what sort of site you have, and who it appeals to.
|I do not give a rip about any engine as long as I am on the first page of all of them... |
You're great ;-)
I think that large sites are generally going to have a much better presence in G because of Y!'s strange indexing issues (and until now that meant MSN too).
However, small sites with similar rankings across the engines seem to be showing gains in Y/MSN traffic in comparison with G as of late for us too.
In reply to your challenge as to what we would do to improve search engine results, I would like to suggest tweaking the way Google calculates PageRank (and the way the others calculate their equivelent link analysis).
My understanding is that (at least when PageRank first came into use) the PR of a page is passed on at a diminished value to those pages it links to. My understanding is that that value is .85 of the original, or 85%.
I would like Google to change the rate at which the PR is diminished according to the type of site. By that I mean that links from government and educational websites should be treated as more valuable than links from commercial websites.
That could be acheived, for example, by bumping up the rate at which PR is passed on from .gov or .edu websites (or their country-specific equivilents) to .9, or 90%), while decreasing the worth of links from .biz or .com (or the country-specific equivilents) sites to .8 or 80%, instead of having a uniform .85 or 85% for all sites.
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