Which search engines really matter?


I’ve noticed that Compete and other blogs post web search market share numbers each month. Google is by far the dominate player and their share continues to grow every month. With this knowledge it’s super important to make sure that your users can find you on Google over the other search engines. Well I wanted to take this a step further to see how this universal data compares to traffic to Wofford.edu. Here is the results (by the way I’m pulling these results from our Google Analytics account):

November 2007
Google 80.35%
Yahoo 9.69%
MSN/Live 5.69%
AOL 2.81%
Search 0.74%
Ask 0.40%

December 2007
Google 81.09%
Yahoo 9.80%
MSN/Live 5.30%
AOL 2.72%
Search 0.45%
Ask 0.28%

So universially Google accounted for close to 70% of internet searches, but for people that are come to Wofford College from search sites Google’s market share is over 80%. Also the big three stay at the top but Wofford get’s less than half a percent from Ask and AOL and Search both beat it out. So out of ten searchers eight use Google, one uses Yahoo and the last picks from something else.

So if we play by the 80/20 rule then the only thing that I need to do is make sure that the site is optimized for Google, but that’s just one way of looking at it. (and this is the point where I have a eurka moment that changed the rest of the post) Maybe we are getting better than normal results from Google because we optimize for Google using their search on our site and have a sitemap that is submitted to Google through Webmaster Tools. So maybe there is 10% in searches that we could get from Yahoo and five percent from MSN/Live that we aren’t even tapping yet! Doing a little search it looks like Yahoo and Live both have Webmaster tools that you can submit sitemaps to help those search engines crawl your site.

  • Live/MSN Webmaster Tools
  • Yahoo Webmaster Tools

It looks like AOL pulls all their results from Google so that might explain why we get such good results from them. Search.com also pulls from other sites like Google so maybe that helps? One big negative about Search is they claim to be a meta search engine which is funny because we don’t use meta tags at all. I think it could be helpful to use meta tags and maybe that would help get more hits, but the debate is still out if meta tags are worth using or not (I know I read somewhere that Google doesn’t use them anymore). You can find plenty of articles on the net about this. Finally we have Ask. It looks like they sort of support a sitemap tool, but I could find very little on it. Here’s all I could really find.

Well what started out as an inquiry of comparing organic search traffic turned into a full assessment of how I use sitemaps and hopefully will lead to better returns with MSN/Live, Yahoo, and maybe Ask in the future. Pretty cool stuff all in all! I’ll definitely have to revisit this subject in a few months to see if the results change any.

If your wondering what a sitemap is and don’t know how to create one, xml-sitemaps.com is a good place to start.

This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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  1. [...] many many months ago in what was the third post of this blog I asked the question, Which search engines really matter?  In that post I pulled data from Compete’s monthly post about web search market share that [...]

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