Redefining Search and Search Engines

Friday, June 19, 2009
By Faisal Laljee

As internet consumers, we are used to the terms “Google it”, “I will Facebook you” or “Tweet”. But when it comes to Search, one immediately thinks of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and in some rare cases, Indeed when reports of search market share are released each month, Google seems to be gaining the ground with market-share of around 70%, with Yahoo a distant second and Microsoft, an even further third. Together, these 4 engines make up 100% of the internet search market.

But with internet users increasingly spending their time on Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and other popular news, media, social networking sites, a search can no longer just be considered a search on one of the 4 engines. In fact, when you search for a person or event on Facebook, a product on Amazon, a song on iTunes or a picture on Flickr, it is more of a “long-tailed” version of the same search that may have been conducted purely on the big 4 just a couple of years ago.

Search has evolved into a more fragmented form, with people ditching the big 4 and adopting a more vertical approach. So when we hear of Google’s 70% market share, are the Amazon’s and the Facebook’s of the world, with hundreds of millions of searches of their own, being included? What is the true market share of the big 4 if you include all the long-tailed, verticalized search engines?

I tracked my own internet usage yesterday, and each time I searched for something, I noted the search term, and the site. When the day was over, I had logged 6 hours of internet usage (yes I know its pathetic), but here are the results:

Google – 6 searches
Facebook – 2 searches
Amazon – 1 search
iTunes – 2 searches
Gmail – 1 search
Twitter – 1 search
Fandango – 1 search

Only 6 of my 14 searches were on a “Search Engine”. Granted that the Gmail search was technically part of Google, nevertheless, my personal usage demonstrates the fragmented nature of search. Now I know I am a different demographic than most, but I’d like to see the total number of searches across the internet, and I would like to see vertical searches included in the overall search numbers across the internet.

– Faisal Laljee

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