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Google Tops, But Yahoo Switch Success So Far

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A longer version of this article for Search Engine Watch members examines how Yahoo's drop may not be due to Google and how MSN is performing better than you might think.
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New stats from web analytics firm WebSideStory highlight the news often heard before: Google's most popular, when it comes to search. But they also reveal that Yahoo's recent replacement of Google results with those from its own crawler-based technology doesn't appear to have cost it visitors.

WebSideStory's StatMarket service measures search referral traffic to web sites. This means it can estimate how many people are driven to sites based on searches they perform.

In general, much-used search engines generate more referrals than less-used ones. Thus, having a high-share of search referral traffic can give a search engine bragging rights about being most popular.

Google Has Biggest Slice Of Referral Pie

On Tuesday, March 23, 2004, WebSideStory examined a sample of over 25 million visits and found that Google had the top share of search referrals, 40.9 percent. It was followed by Yahoo at 27.4 percent, then MSN at 19.6 percent:


WebSideStory also released trend data showing how all three search sites performed for the corresponding Tuesday over four years. Not surprisingly, Google appears as a giant success:


Dropping Google Didn't Hurt Yahoo

A key question many are wondering is whether Yahoo's switch from Google to its own search technology has had an impact. The fear for Yahoo is that if its quality isn't as good as the results previously provided by Google, searchers might start abandoning it.

Personally, I've felt Yahoo's own search technology has often been close to Google's and doubted many typical Yahoo searchers would even notice the change. Stats from WebSideStory for the beginning of this year that seem to support this:


The lines show the average of search referral traffic share estimated for Google and Yahoo for each month. As you can see, Google's showing a rise. However, this hasn't come at Yahoo's expense. Yahoo, which dropped Google in mid-February, has so far come through the changeover apparently without any major loss of searchers.

Google Big Outside US

While search remains very competitive inside the US -- even "dominant" Google doesn't have more than half the search referrals -- WebSideStory stats paint a different picture for some selected counties:

Country Google Yahoo
Germany 80.5% 5.6%
UK 65.6% 10.8%
China 72.6% 12.7%

A longer version of this article for Search Engine Watch members examines how Yahoo's drop may not be due to Google and how MSN is performing better than you might think.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member

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