Which Search Engines Really Matter - The Followup

So many many months ago in what was the third post of this blog I asked the questionWhich search engines really matter?  In that post I pulled data from Compete’s monthly post about web search market share that showed Google dominating with almost 69% of the US market.  So fast forward eight months later (can you believe this blog is eight months old!?) and Google is now a dominating 70.4% of the US web search market.  At the time I wanted to see how this national trend held up for Wofford and at the time did some tweaking to Wofford’s search submissions to the other two main search market players, Yahoo and MSN.  Since making these changes I thought they might have an impact on Google’s dominance of searches that return traffic to Wofford’s site (over 80% then). I think to be totally fair before moving forward I need to analyzes what percentage of Wofford’s search traffic is domestic.  Keep in mind this data is only for wofford.edu as pulled from Google Analytics over the last month.

Percent of Search Traffic from US

Total Search – 97.4%
Google – 97.37%
Yahoo – 96.22%
MSN/Live – 98.61%
AOL – 99.93% (AOL uses Google Search)
Ask – 98.31%

So that data tells me that only Google and Yahoo are used more outside the US compared to the other services, but each service is still within a 4% range which without doing too much math or even backing my thinking should be safely within a standard deviation.  Because of this I think it’s safe to assume that full search traffic from each source can be credited as domestic, but I’ll go ahead and compute the percent down for US in parenthesis.

Percent of Search Market Share of Traffic to Wofford.edu

(Total of 46,398 visits over the last month and 45,398 US visits)

Google - 80.46% (80.07%)
Yahoo – 9.81% (9.65%)
MSN/Live – 5.28% (5.32%)
AOL – 3.12% (3.19%)
Ask – 0.77% (0.77%)

And let’s look at the numbers from the latest Compete data.

compete searchshareaug08 Which Search Engines Really Matter   The Followup

So what do the numbers tell me?

Well part of my post eight months ago was to compare search market share compared to what Compete was reporting but also it lead me to submitting Wofford’s sitemap to Live/MSN and Yahoo’s search engines to hopefully increase market share and better numbers for the other players besides Google because at the time I thought this could be a “low hanging fruit” type opportunity.  So was it?  Not at all.  Basically increased time and effort to help www.wofford.edu rank in the other search engines better returned neglible results. Google still accounts for over 80% of search traffic to wofford.edu and digging more into the data that’s held pretty steady.  Google is the king of search for Wofford related content.  Eight months later search market share that directed traffic to Wofford essentially stayed at the same percentages.

I’d be interested to hear how much of your college’s search traffic is generated by Google in a month.

  • Does this data hold pretty steady across our industry?
  • Why is there a 10% difference between national averages and Wofford’s data?
  • Does it have to do with the fact that regional search traffic uses more Google?
  • Maybe prospective college students prefer Google and it’s an age demographic where older populations prefer yahoo?
  • How about maybe a difference in income?

I’m asking the questions here because I really have no idea.  Drop your thoughts below.

UPDATE:  In the comments Associate Director brought up a good point about looking at off campus data that isn’t stricly on campus machines.  Here’s a look at the previous months worth of traffic for off-campus searches.  A little less dominate for Google so definitely on the right track to explaining this.

5 Responses to “Which Search Engines Really Matter - The Followup”

  1. Says:

    Excellent post. I would have to say that this data holds true to my industry - not just the .edu realm. I think your question on demographics is an important one, but ultimately those using Google search are from a wide cross-section of the public - much like those using Yahoo or any other search engine.

  2. Says:

    Thanks Pete. Interesting enough I just did the only think I know to do. Went to quantcast and pulled demographic data on Google and Yahoo (which are #1 and #2 rank respectively) and not surprisingly the data is no more than two percentage points different for affluent or graduate level audience.

    So it’s not a difference in the use of the two search engines. At least according to quantcast they have essentially the same audience.

  3. Says:

    Ah wait… now there was one demographic that did show a difference, the age of the audience. Google holds 10% audience age 12-17 compared to 4% for Yahoo. If a college’s audience is high school students then they are using Google significantly more than Yahoo.

    That’s also really bad long term Yahoo as that audience grows up.

  4. Says:

    Kyle, I thought I would share some of our stats (https://wayne.edu). Our Google stats are close to yours but our Yahoo is slightly higher.

    Percent of Search Engine Traffic: 33%

    Search Engine Breakdown:

    Are you doing anything analytic wise to discount campus computers? (like library machines that have Wofford.edu set as their homepage)

  5. Says:

    I do have a filter to just look at off campus traffic. That’s a really good observation that I should have considered.

    I’m updating the post w/ those numbers.