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Is Google losing dominance to internal search?



4:30 pm on May 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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In the past year, I've observed a sea change in how average people I know find new sites online, and I'm wondering if others are seeing this.

(1) They default to Yelp for local info on places to go, whether a restaurant is good, etc.

(2) Instead of "Just Google it", I'm told "Just search on Pinterest" for certain types of queries. "Bloglovin" is another one - great way to find those little quality blogs that aren't showing up in Google the way they used to.

(3) Want news? Don't check search - go to your preferred news site that slants the way you like it. ;)

(4) Need a plumber? Ask friends on Facebook, or check Yelp. You have no idea if the top guy in Google actually knows his trade.

(5) Since "Google just gives a few top companies", people are going straight to their preferred top companies and doing internal searches. (Amazon, Bestbuy, Yelp, etc.)

(6) Some people have switched to Bing because "it's easier to find what I want in Bing". (If Bing doesn't deliver, they'll check Google next.)

I've mentioned this in other threads, and some of you have mentioned seeing similar things. I do not think this is already happening on a big huge scale and the days of Google dominance are over, I just think we may be at the start of a new trend. Namely, people realizing search engines are not the only way, nor in some cases are they the best way, to explore the web.

If so, then Google will eventually lose their position as gatekeeper to the vast majority of the web - not to another search engine, but to internal search on preferred sites.

I'm also thinking this might explain why some of us have observed we're still #1 in Google, but not getting the same traffic it used to bring.

Are you seeing/hearing similar things? Do your stats suggest Google traffic isn't as voluminous as it used to be? Are you seeing more traffic from other sources, or just a general decrease that doesn't correspond with rankings changes?


6:26 am on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A lot of people seem so blinded by Google hatred that they are assuming that a move to internal search would be a good thing.

For small sites, it would be a disaster. It means that instead of searching for "red widgets" on Google and possibly finding your widget sales site, they will do straight to Amazon and will definitely not find your site.


6:36 am on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I started this thread to collect anecdotal information and see if there was anything worth testing.

I didn't mean to be personal here @diberry... At all and I do read your posts regularly even though I don't have time to participate as much as I would wanted to :)

I am just questioning the data that prompted you to start this thread... And as a Computer Scientist I want to see evidence which is credible to be 100% certain.


2:11 pm on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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graeme_p, I thought of that too. That's why I'm trying to figure this out. If it's the start of a trend, we need to get ahead of it.

mcskoufis, that's fine, was just clarifying. I would like to see proof too, but am not sure how to get it. On that note, guggi2000 posted [webmasterworld.com ]

I checked the Alexa reach of some major sites (hope it is reliable with these volumes):

"Google's" overall traffic is down ~5% (1 month comparison) while last year's drop in April was less.
"Facebook.com's" traffic is down ~4%, while last year there was no drop in April.
"Wikipedia.org's" traffic is down ~6.7%, while last year's decline seems less.
"Amazon.com" is UP 12.7% (last year there was a drop)...
"Ebay" down 6%.

The changes start towards the end of March.

So, while Amazon's, Ebay's and Wikipedia's changes are probably a result of an update (changes are too sharp), I still wonder why Google's and Facebook's own traffic went slowly down beyond seasonal?

Is Alexa reliable enough that we can assume at least *something* is happening here, relative to other Alexa results? If so, what? It *could* be internal search (although if Amazon's rise is in comparison to a drop last year, they too may be falling or at least not increasing as much as it appears).

guggi2000 goes on to say:

I don't think it is about user behavior in this case, because the increase of 12% at Amazon happened within 2-3 days, around March 25. It is too sharp and it correlates to the Panda update in March. I know it is annoying to see auto-generated content at the top, but let's not forget: it is still Amazon.

However, we have to focus on what seems to have started on 4/1 or 4/15.

Again, I have to say that looking at the "Alexa-Reach" drop of Google and Facebook and comparing it to the drop I have experienced (drop in direct and referring traffic similar to SE traffic (!) ) I think that it is not only SERP related...

It's going to be really hard to separate any gains/losses in Google traffic from all sorts of other factors.


2:21 pm on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I offer a discount code if during sign-up you tell me "how you found us." I'm blown away by number of people who list StumbleUpon.


2:33 pm on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@diberry - see how it goes? suggest something for civil discussion and some take it as written in stone and want to start an argument. BTW - I agree with your OP, Google is loosing traction, at least from MY frame of reference and that of just about everyone I know. They use whatever else is trendy that their friends recommend that GETS RESULTS. Google has alienated their users for the sake of making their current $153M / day.

Unfortunately their year on year earnings growth show they are still king of the hill.

Their earnings only prove one thing, that they have skillfully (though unwisely from a user experience POV) monetized all of YouTube and moved their buddies (Demand Media, etc) with sweetheart deals to the top of the serps to push ads. Why do you think thin is at the top? It's makes for a much more slippery path to their ads as visitors quickly look for an exit. Result = KACHING! not king of the hill.

I only use Google when I need a laugh. I use Bing or other resources when I need to find accurate results sans the scrapers and webspam. Happily I'm seeing this swing reflected in my stats too. Google was 95%, now they are down to less than 50% and falling fast.

By the way, who else is ready to retch with those useless "author" photos posted all over their SERPS?
More rewards for using their services. Major COF IMHO. I digress.


3:16 pm on May 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks to diberry for starting this thread: it is a topic that I have great interest because as he said
That's why I'm trying to figure this out. If it's the start of a trend, we need to get ahead of it.
I suspect that as with me he has had this concern for years or he wouldn't have Google traffic at 30-50% of his total.

The number of web discovery points have been multiplying for years. General search, especially via Google (in much of the world), remains dominant despite that. Even with my years of hard work to increase traffic percentage from elsewhere (while maintaining or growing absolute search traffic) Google at 20-25% is still far and away the single largest absolute traffic referer bar none. While my dependance is no where near that of those where Google sends 80-100% of traffic it is still acute.

I watch my logfiles to track what hardware and software changes might provide access points; they led me to developing social marketing efforts, mobile apps, etc. I also lurk and participate in niche fora and read prominent niche blogs and comments, read general webdev fora posts such as this one, all in order to try and get a grasp on how my audiences are changing how they find whatever. Some people hang on Googler words, I hang on those of my audience/customers.

Internal search on the enterprise web whales is probably well up as they increasingly become initial specific destinations. The two logically should increase in lockstep. To webdevs that compete with such behemoths this is likely a problem, although whether general, i.e. Google, search would actually be more beneficial or simply give the illusion I'm not qualified to answer.

The real question with regard to a likely increase in direct internal search is whether and how much it impacts the competing smaller webdev. Or if it is more a loss to Google as such folks would have previously gone via Google rather than direct; in either instance ignoring (except perhaps for comparison checking) the smaller sites in a query return.

It is not just a metter of whether google traffic is diverted but whether such traffic used to convert for the smaller webdev. That is something for such sites to parse from their metrics analysis.

Regardless: as Google has increasingly emphsised named entities including brands, as web users increasingly look directly to brands (including inputting navigation directions into Google), as users utilise numerous social communications, as mobile apps direct site access usage increases... it is ever more important to be a business, a brand, recognisable and not just a query return link.

Google can look out for Google. I like to know where my audience congregates, how they go about finding, sharing, buying... And it has long been elsewhere as well as general search. Increasingly, it is elsewhere instead of via general search; not hugely, but noticeably. Which does make marketing a continuing challenge.

Yogesh Sarkar

3:23 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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While Google might be making it tough to rank and brining idiotic things over at times, however as a website owner, I feel Facebook is a much larger threat than Google. Not only because it only searches internally, but also due to the fact that it is a lot more aggressive in ensuring its dominance and stickiness is maintained!

Add the fact that it is launching more and more solutions to essentially kill need of smaller websites (whatever might be the vertical) and is littered with people brazenly copying and uploading your hard work (be it articles, images or tips) as their own and due to its design it makes it extremely hard for the copyright owner to find out what and where the abuse is taking place.


4:34 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I feel Facebook is a much larger threat than Google. Not only because it only searches internally, but also due to the fact that it is a lot more aggressive in ensuring its dominance and stickiness is maintained!

Who REALLY looks to buy stuff on Facebook or look for a service there? It's a "downtime" destination - a place to do nothing rather than do something.

IMHO, I don't really see much serious competition to Google - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the big players aren't all in cahoots in someway (eBay, Amazon, Google) to maintain the current hegemony.

Yogesh Sarkar

5:46 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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There was a time, when Google didn't used to sell things either!

When a company has a large captive audience and social and other data to know what people like, recommend and are looking to buy, it can be pretty disruptive to the existing online and offline sellers!

In any case, not everyone sells online.


8:46 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps this should have been entitled "is google loosing dominance in smartphones search" @Leosghost?

The fact is like it or not Google are the dominant factor in all markets.

Except facebook!


9:08 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Perhaps this should have been entitled "is google loosing dominance in smartphones search" @Leosghost?

The fact that you refer ( I get the impression..somewhat dismissively ? ) to the mobile device sector as "smartphones search" ( which is to exclude tablets which are not "smartphones" ) leads me to beloieve that you understand neither the changes which mobile devices are bringing, nor the speed at w which such changes are happening, nor their diversity..
The fact is like it or not Google are the dominant factor in all markets.

If your only "markets" are western , desktop, and primarily English speaking,,?

Then yes, they are "dominant"..also if you can't, or won't write "apps" for multiple platforms..

*But there are huge "sectors", geographical areas, audiences outside of facebook..where G has no, or very little, presence..

Except facebook!

*See above..


10:57 pm on May 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

^^^Posted whilst cooking supper, please excuse typos..returned to late too be able to edit them ..


3:05 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Wow .. I must be quite the dullard here, in that my start page is "my page" .. not someone elses ..

But I digress .. For the past two years I've been promoting site search functions for our clients ..

This isn't a new concept by any stretch .. it's been around for a while now, and the way we are doing it here is seeming to catch on with regard to increased traffic.

Site search is what it is .. the hook, or trick, (if you want to call it that) that I've found here, involves a client, selling widgets, putting on a search function that allows it's visitorship to search for all of the other guys out there that sell widgets too. Google is so very intrusive and nosey that it can't ever seem to quench it's neverending thirst for poking around into the DB's of others .. It loves these DB's so much in fact, that it shows in the SERP's.

Want to find widget site #2 in the Google? .. You'll find it in the link placed in 3rd position that Google listed from widget site #1's search function -- this is how it's been working out.

It's sort of a quasi exclusive search function, if you will, and because it's *niche, all of the traffic coming in from the big G with people looking for widgets usually hits the client site first (as a result of his/her owned niche site search abilities)

The site, in many cases, as a result of this, gains a certain new level of authority seemingly because of it's ability to produce a decent resource for those looking for the widgets that Google somehow has lost on the back 950 ...

Just my 2 cents



3:13 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

FWIW, as a site where the internal search is fairly heavily used by visitors to find what they're looking to buy, the overall trend seems to be pretty flat over the past couple years. The numbers were a little higher than usual last month compared to other Aprils, but we also had a temporary boost in visitors last month.


3:22 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Dymero -- *Internal Search being the key phrase here.

Having an internal search capability of, oh, maybe 50k different useful resource links/sites, complete with good descripts will be flat ..

I'm talking about much more than that .. you can't get it all moving unless you discover and list 500k or above. (and this is still extremely microscopic by Google standards)

Google likes to have lunch when it stops by, not a snack .. wetting the appetite of the beast alone cannot produce the desired results I'm afraid.


9:36 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm not talking about Google at all, just the general usage trend by visitors.

It doesn't matter anyway, as our search results page is marked as noindex, so Google isn't going there, anyway.


4:30 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Just more anecdotal stuff to think about, from this month's update thread: [webmasterworld.com...]


Google's preference to display Wikipedia, Amazon and other big brands may be accelerating advanced search behavior. Savvy surfers are learning to bypass Google to go directly to the source, rely on their friends advice or are simply going somewhere else to conduct their searches where diversity is king.


A clearer picture post 4/15 is that search behavior changed for a time. We can now see it clearly through other channels. Yet the return to normal business was faster with bing. Bing is also picking up new pages faster. Alternate referrers are increasing. Comparison engines are way up. I think this is the first time I can say in our vertical user behavior may be changing.
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