Watching the search engine competition

There are some parts of what SEO services do which might seem straightforward. The production of high grade content is a case in point. However, the complexity of the search world and the intense competition within it means that there is no getting away from the inherently difficult nature of the task. Similarly, monitoring the performance of the search engines might seem to be remarkably simple. Nonetheless, the ability to make anything positive out of the raw data is not as easy as one might believe.

At SEO Consult we work hard to deliver professional SEO services. This involves investing significant sums in research. Researching the search sector is a central activity for affordable SEO services. This is because failure to do this work can lead to the unwitting implementation of unethical optimisation. Unethical optimisation can mean that a site underperforms. Sometimes a site is even exiled from the index as it incurs a search engine penalty.

Watching the search engines is therefore a critical activity for any serious consultancy. Fortunately, there are organisations that do relevant research. Some of this research is done in the United States. Despite the obvious problems with using American information in a British context, it is always worth looking at data from across the Atlantic. Britain often follows America’s lead in economic and cultural matters.

A survey by comScore in the last month of the first quarter of 2012 contained interesting and useful data in relation to search. For example, almost all the major search engines received more queries from users than they did a year previously. The market share of Google and Bing was not much changed. When looking at market share, Google was on 66.4 per cent, precisely the same as a month prior to the survey and only slightly up on the March statistic for 2011. Bing was at 15.4 per cent, up from 13.7 per cent in March 2011, but flat from a month ago. Hence Bing is only catching up slightly.

The big story in the figures was Yahoo’s fall from grace. In March 2011 it received a market share of 15.7 per cent. This year, the figure was 2 per cent down. Struggling Yahoo saw a 5 per cent decrease in the number of search queries over the same period. It is no wonder that Yahoo is facing an identity crisis. It has been in decline for a protracted period and it has shed 2,000 jobs.

There is not much to learn from the market share figures for AOL or Ask. They are broadly flat. The point is that one has to be able to base tactics on the findings in relation to the more significant players.

It would appear that optimisation strategies should continue to aim at a range of search engines, with particular emphasis on pleasing Google and Bing. However, the human user has to be the primary target. If Yahoo continues to slide, it may become of less significance in the search world, but it is important not to abandon it prematurely.

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