Understanding the Global Search Marketplace – Part 2

How’d ya like to find a nice beer garden in Berlin? How about some chocolates in Bruges? Maybe I can tempt you with a little cup of heaven and some gelati in Rome. This week, we continue to search around the world with profiles of who owns what and where.

Search might be the second most popular activity (after e-mail) on the Web, but when it comes to connecting humans to information, there’s no better way to showcase the best of the Web.

Search became known for connecting people (or other search engines) with information based on text entries. Today, we search and find images, video, and news all in one easy to digest platform.

Let’s take a look around the world with comScore and qSearch.

Welcome to the New World

The first part of this column sparked a lot of questions about how search usage information is accumulated, and by whom. Before we get started, let’s take a look at how this information is collected and how projections of search engine usage are made.

When measuring search activity, providers like comScore take into account Web users over the age of 15. When referring to specific sites’ market share (i.e. “Yahoo’s percentage of market share”), every point of that percentage includes directory, image, Web, news, audio, and map search.

The bulk of search growth is coming from emerging marketplaces around the world, but remember, we’re talking about search activity, or number of searches drawn from observations based on a sample of the population of the Web being observed.

For example, looking at the Web’s top 50 search properties around the world, Google ranks number one, followed by Yahoo, then Baidu. The data starts to sound more interesting when you chop it up by region.

Google’s World

If the world consisted only of Google search, roughly 60 percent of the world would belong to Google. comScore measures data from most of the connected world, including the U.S., China, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and France.

Most of Google’s searches are outside the U.S., to the tune of about 77 percent. In a regional distribution cross section comparing Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL coverage, Europe represented 30 percent of total search activity (July 2007), followed by North America at 26 percent, and the Asia/Pacific region at 34 percent. The Middle East accounts for 3 percent of searches, while Latin America accounts for 7 percent of total searches.

As of July 2007, Google received 41 percent of its searches from European countries, while Yahoo held steady at 7 percent. Microsoft is the big European search champion with 19 percent of searches coming from the EU.

North America tells a different story, with Google at 23 percent, Yahoo at 31 percent, and Microsoft at 60 percent. Not surprisingly, AOL received 82 percent of its searches from North America.

The Emerging World

Searches are up all over the world, and it’s an interesting juxtaposition to think of the rest of the world as “emerging” compared to North America and Europe. While North America and Europe still account for 60 percent of the world’s search activity, these two areas saw only a 16.9 percent and 12 percent growth, respectively, between January and July 2007.

The biggest growth came from Latin America, which increased search activity by more than 30 percent in seven months. The Middle East and Africa contributed only 3 percent of overall search activity while experiencing more than 22 percent growth.

The big countries in these regions might come as a surprise to the unindoctrinated. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Argentina represent the top five search countries in the Latin American scope of measurement. In the Middle East-Africa region, Israel and South Africa are the leading search countries.

Planet Dominator

Each portal is struggling to gain market share in every corner of the globe. In some areas, regional players dominate due to linguistic or regulatory issues. For example, China’s Baidu and South Korea’s Naver.com are threats to the search world giants, Yahoo and Google.

Speaking of China’s fast growing (but not purchasing anything) online population: while Microsoft sites receive less traffic than Google or Yahoo, search volume increased at a much higher rate for Microsoft sites. From January to July 2007, China ranked second in total world search volume and Microsoft increased its volume 57 percent, compared to Google’s 31 percent.

Yahoo is playing second fiddle in many countries throughout the world, but not in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. While Google is maintaining strong search volume growth throughout the world, Yahoo is not to be dismissed, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region.

The old clich├ęs about search being anybody’s game in a young industry still ring true. Global economic conditions will affect the overall growth of not only search activity, but search-driven commerce.

Meet Kevin at SES Chicago from December 3-6.

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