Google’s recent loss of about two percent of their market share, dropping them below 75% for the first time since 2008, has created a lot of conversation among internet pundits.
The main cause of this drop involves a change in Mozilla Firefox to switch its default search engine from Google to Yahoo, which is powered by Bing. The switch itself is easy to understand; Mozilla’s contract with Google was up, and Google has its own Chrome browser which is in direct competition with Firefox. But the sudden drop it caused has led people to speculate that Google may not be as unassailable as they seem.
Let’s be clear here: as of January 2015, even after this drop, Google is still the most popular search engine in the US by a tremendous margin, capturing 74.8% of the US search traffic. Second-place holder Bing serves 12.4% of the market and Yahoo has only just bumped up from 8.6% to 10.9% over two months. After the changeover, 66% of Firefox users have already switched back to using Google for their search defaults. It’s entirely possible that this drop is more of a dip, with Google building back their market share in other ways.
But that all begs a bigger question: Just how much should we, people who are not search engine providers or browser manufacturers, care? Even if Google dropped below 70% of the market, that’s still more than twice all of their other competitors combined. Would there be any reason to change our marketing strategy?
In our opinion, the answer is “Not really, but remain watchful.” Google has been the number one search engine since 2003 and many SEO experts have become complacent that it will continue to dominate in the future. But even if Google somehow manages to drop down among its competitors, most of the current wisdom about proper SEO practice will continue to be useful.
Follow the Leader
A few years ago, Google added an algorithm called “Google Panda” to help them weed out sites with low-quality content; for instance, sites which repeat content over and over or contain machine-altered versions of highly cited articles from other websites. As a result, a lot of the old bad tricks to increase page ranking fell by the wayside.
In response, Bing quickly rolled out its Content Quality update, which ranks site content according to Authority, Utility, and Presentation — many of the same qualities Google Panda considers for its ranking. Though the fallout from Bing’s new ranking engine wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as Panda, the ultimate result is the same: better content gets higher positioning, no matter which search engine you use.
This pattern appears over and over in the history of the “search engine wars:” one engine improves how it indexes websites, and the others either follow or perish. This certainly helps keep those of us with an interest in SEO on our toes, but it also means that there aren’t ten competing standards from ten different search engines, like the bad old days of the late 1990’s. If Google weren’t the leader, then the new leader would be the one to set the standard, developers would be beholden to follow that standard, and the balance of SEO would be maintained.
Matcha Design develops websites which are ready for effective SEO. We know all the common mistakes most companies commit, and can give you advice which will help keep you off search engine blacklists and maximize your search rankings. No matter which way the winds blow in the search engine world, you can be certain we’re keeping track of it. Contact us today and let us help you bring your business to the forefront.