Nielsen / Netratings company reported that Google continues to lead the way as the search engine of choice for many users. The market research company also reported that Google has the highest retention of users. For at-home users, Google sees 79% of its users return, followed by Yahoo! at 69%, and MSN/Windows Live with 65%. The trend was similar for at-work users with slightly higher retention numbers. However, Nielsen / Netratings in the same article reported that search engine users are choosing more than one search engine for their search providing needs. In the big three, 84% of the MSN/Windows Live Search visitors went to either Google or Yahoo! or both as well as their usual MSN/Windows Live. 78% of Yahoo! and 63% of Google visitors went to the other engines as well.
What we should take from this data is that Google is clearly important to your search marketing plan – this is your classic 900 pound gorilla. But you should not forget about the other search engines unless you’re happy leaving potential traffic on the table. For example, when starting a pay per click campaign, there is nothing wrong with choosing Google’s Adwords to get a proof of concept. Since it has the highest amount of users, Google can give you an idea of whether or not your ad campaigns will be profitable. However, after your campaigns are proven, remember to consider expanding into Yahoo! Search Marketing and potentially Microsoft’s adCenter for access to more traffic. Spreading out to more than one search engine can often put you in a less competitive arena and will also help cover your business in the event users choose a different search engine from their typical choice. As the Nielsen / Netrating report shows, more users are searching more than one search engine these days.
It is important to pay attention to market research done by companies like Nielsen / Netratings to understand how to appropriately divide your search marketing efforts amongst the search providers. In the search marketing programs that we offer, we monitor and work towards results in Google, Yahoo!, and MSN / Windows Live, as well as a host of other paid and organic traffic sources. We work with our clients to help them understand the importance of diversity in supplying targeted visitors and how to appropriately budget to the different search engines, because as the Nielsen / Netratings report points out, the internet is becoming a very competitive place, and more of your potential customers are finding you from a more diverse range of sources than ever before.