The lists are there monthly, and sometimes even weekly: which search engine has the biggest market share? Without exception, Google always wins.
Lately, Bing has gained market share in the U.S., like in March when Bing went from 11.5 percent to 11.7 percent market share. It's a win for Bing, but these gains are only percentage points. Google is still the biggest by far.
A few years ago at a search conference, someone asked me if I saw a "Google killer" on the horizon. My answer then was that the only thing that could "kill" Google was Google itself. And that still seems to hold true today. Google might still kill itself, but no one is about to kill Google's stranglehold on market share.
Maybe its time we start to look at this differently. Times are changing, as are search engines and traffic sources. The market share lists show us how big of an advantage Google has on other (major) search engines, but they don't show us the difference with other traffic sources.
Recent developments show us a new way we should be looking at traffic sources. Yes, Google is still important and most probably the biggest traffic source out there. But there is more, a lot more. If you act now, you can get a lot of benefit out of it.
New 'Search Engines'
A couple developments will change the lives of search marketers: Twitter search and YouTube.
- Twitter search: Twitter is hot. We must be honest, though. Most Twitter traffic can be traced to our online industry. If, for example, you sell bathroom redesigns, traffic from Twitter probably isn't that high. But any client you get through Twitter is a new client, and if you play your cards right there could be many more.
Until recently, Twitter search wasn't that good. Some called it a search engine, even though it was nothing more than a site search. But Twitter has made some changes.
Now if you search for a popular or trending topic (e.g., iPad or Poland), you'll see a different way of ranking the tweets. We were used to seeing the latest tweets rank first, with older tweets being pushed down when more tweets on the subject were sent out. On these popular subjects, however, the top results are now the most retweeted tweets.
Twitter search is ranking the tweets. It's actually behaving like a search engine!
- YouTube traffic: The video search engine owned by Google already was responsible for many searches, but never appeared on the market share lists on which Bing is now trying to catch Google. If it had been, YouTube would have been the second largest search engine out there.
But YouTube didn't send a lot of direct traffic to sites. Searchers looked and found videos they could see on YouTube's site. They didn't have to move away from the site to get what they wanted.
Last week, YouTube decided to send traffic back to those sending traffic to YouTube. Sites that are responsible for a lot of views will get credits. An "As seen on" link will be placed below the video, linking back to a site that has supplied a large number of views. The link is no-followed, so it won't benefit you in Google, but it will probably mean two things: users will click on it (traffic!) and the video will be top listed in universal search.
How You Can Benefit From This
By not just looking at Google you can make these things work for you. A search marketers' job changed overnight: getting things popular in the short run can benefit you in the long run.
To get traffic from Twitter search, it's important to do keyword research and start making specific tweets popular. Getting a specific tweet popular will help the tweet rank for keywords you covet. As more people use Twitter search to find specific information, you could get more traffic than you'd expect. Remember, the original tweet doesn't have to come from you, it can be sent by someone else (i.e., someone with a higher authority).
The YouTube traffic is obvious. Creating more views will create the link and the position in universal search, and therefore the traffic. A viral video has more benefits than ever.
The Conclusion: Use Your Traffic Sources
These are just two examples of different traffic sources than Google. But there are (and will be) many more.
If you act now you will have the benefit of being one of the first. It's like being the first on a new highway. Be there before the traffic starts jamming.