Why Are People Searching Less Than They Were a Year Ago?

Nielsen Releases July Search Market Stats

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Nielsen released its version of the U.S. search market rankings for July this week. Google is of course on top with 3 out of 5 searches (64.2%). Yahoo came in second with 14.3%, leaving Microsoft in third at 13.6%.

Yahoo and Microsoft both gained in month-over-month share (2% and 4%, respectively). This is all good for Microsoft, as Bing has now completely overtaken Yahoo’s organic results in the U.S. and Canada. We’ll see our first glimpse of how this is working out next month.

Do you think Microsoft and Yahoo combined can take on Google? Share your thoughts.

"In terms of a Year-on-Year comparison there has been little change in Google’s share but more significant movement amongst its closest competitors," says Nielsen. "MSN/Windows Live/Bing’s share has grown from 9.0% to 13.6% (a delta increase of 4.6% or a relative increase of 51%) while Yahoo!’s share has fallen from 17.1% to 14.3% (a delta drop of 2.8% or a relative drop of 17%). Consequently, over the last year Yahoo!’s delta lead over MSN/Windows Live/Bing has been reduced from 7.1% to only 0.7%."

Nielsen July Search Stats - People Searching less in general?

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft account for more than 9 out of 10 searches (92.1%).

The total number of searches in the U.S. over the last year has gone down by 16% from 10.5 billion to 8.8 billion. This is a very interesting stat. I wonder how much of this has to do with increased use of smartphones and mobile apps, taking the place of traditional searches. There are some other good points in the comments.

Why do you think people are searching less? Comment here.

Why Are People Searching Less Than They Were a Year Ago?
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  • Mobile

    So are you saying Nielsen didn’t include mobile searches in these stats?

  • http://www.minitech.org Thomas

    The internet is getting filled with all sorts of websites that contain good and valid content in large numbers. People are starting too bookmark these websites and search on them directly instead of going through search engines.

    I do this myself because I know the searches that I’m doing on those specific websites will return me better and more specific answers than general search engines.

    • http://www.adagio.com.ua Sean

      Yes, I did the same and used one of very famous social news/bookmarking websites for some of my information. But after their last transformation-redesign I doubt very much that this way is quite reliable because I can’t find my resources. In other words, we can be hostages when relying on such bookmarking services and some day receive a very unpleasant “gift”.

  • http://www.orlandotaxi-fast.com drew

    You mention “Phone Apps.” has a Cause For a drop In “Search” I’am Sure that Explains Part of It But I Think the Slow Economy has Something to Do with it People Don’t Have The Money To Spend and even Know People that Have Gotten Rid Of Cable T.V. and Internet Service to Cut Back On Their Bills.Besides I think Too Many People are Busy on Facebook to “Search” Drew H.

    • Chris Crum

      I can definitely see Facebook and the economy contributing to the decline.

  • http://www.orlandoseoworld.com/ seo Orlando

    As the poster above mentioned, it appears mobile search is capturing a larger percentage of the market share….so search may not necessarily be down, just transitioned to a different medium.

    • Chris Crum

      Indeed many people are finding different ways to access their information.

  • http://www.BoozeMonkey.com Matt

    Maybe they found what they were looking for?

  • http://www.laokay.com Adsense Publisher

    Google is basically cutting off it’s own head.
    They are one of the major advocates of apps these days.
    So with more apps comes less people searching, or at least in the traditional way.

    Search won’t die, but it’s going to be more diversified as niche search engines come to play through apps on mobile devices. Instead of searching on Google maps for the nearest restaurant to you, you might use the Zagat guide app, instead of Google’s map app.

  • http://www.thewomanmenadoreandneverwanttoleaverevealed.net The Woman Men Adore and Never Want to Leave

    Even if people use smartphones, aren’t they using Google, Bing or Yahoo are their search engines?

  • http://cozumelmexico.net Robert Rodriguez

    It is VERY simple. We are in a recession. People are not spending but saving. Less need to search. No more, no less.

  • Pete Moss

    Article is idiotic, fails to answer the headline question, referencing comments. Is this journalism or fraud?

  • http://www.housingfix.com Paul

    There is a movement towards having relevant words and terms in the search results,ie: searchers are actually typing in searches in the form of a question.


    How do I “sell my inventory”? Top Result(usually): Sellmyinventory.com

    What is the “housing fix” that is in all the news reports? Future top result (?) housingfix.com

    Domain names that are not precisely what is typed in will be ignored as the top results will answer the query.


  • http://www.bestvibes.ca/Fleshlights_c_20.html FleshlightGirlCanada

    I think people who say that bookmarking at least mentally bookmarking sites has increased in the last year… I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to remember that Wikipedia will pop up in many of your searches for certain type things… and if you are looking for a movie go to imdb and if you are looking for medical advice webmd… if you are wanting to shop go to e-bay or amazon… If they did a search they now know they will end up there anyway…so why waste the time searching?

    Also it may be that search results have become more relevant- reducing the number of tries to find what they are looking for…

    Or maybe people are getting better at searching for things using longer search terms and remembering to add the area they live in etc. This would also reduce the number of tries on searches.

  • http://www.home-base-business.net Home Business Entrepreneur

    I was under the impression that AOL Search was powered by Google, effectively making Google’s share of the market slightly higher than 64.2%.

  • Paul

    A huge factor is 2.0 sites. Take youtube for example. Ask almost any teenager their search order when they’re looking for something. Most of them will tell you they search on youtube -first- then they try a search engine. Surprised me too. Very, very common for the younger generation.

  • http://www.bestshopping.es Toni B.

    It is likely that many searches in the future are accurate or domains directly from Web sites. Should be adapted to show concrete results significantly, and classified, web sites, blogs, forums, directories and adjust to the changing needs of users.

  • http://www.businessforbusiness.co.uk Nigel T Packer

    I would agree with Thomas that more people are bookmarking sites they use regularly becuse they have learnt to use them. we should ask ourselves the question is this a long term trend and will we see the coninued drop of the search engines as a way of finding services, products and oinformation online. It wouold be using the internet for specific I would agree with Thomas that more people are bookmarking sites they use regularly because they have learnt to use them.

    We should ask ourselves the questions:
    Is this a long term trend?
    Will we see a continued drop of the search engines as a way of finding services, products and information online?

    I would also like to see if browser changes have influenced these changes in numbers.

    I have also observed with many people the way they use browsers and type the web address into the search field instead of the address bar in their browser. If they have changed this habit and are using the address bar it would account for some of the drop.

    The use of bookmarking is increasing as people develop their skills and preferred shopping, information and social media sites they use their own directory list in their browser to find their required website.

    For those companies that have websites competing with the market leaders it will become more difficult to compete if the potential customers stop using search and rely on their own bookmarks. It will also damage the SEO and SEM markets.

    There are still plenty of searches being done with plenty of opportunity. Business websites will have to ensure that they become the bookmarked website and will have to ensure that their sites are the preferred for their range of product and service.

    The emphasis in the next few years will move to user experience and away from SEO and SEM. It is a waste of resources getting high traffic levels to the website when the website is full of user barriers and hurdles.

    Demand for website user experience reviews has increased but few people are skilled or experienced enough to carry these specialist heuristic tests.

    Interesting thoughts

    Kind regards

    Nigel T Packer

  • http://www.rokstok.com Andy Moquin

    There’s no way that internet searches have gone down, I may agree that searches have gone down in “Traditional Search Engines”. I suspect that internet usage has grown not decreased, if you’re not including mobile search then the stats are flawed. A search is a search whether it is a mobile phone or a search engine.

    I will say that I am so excited about Google losing marketshare, I’m so tired of having to cow-tow to them when it comes to SEO practices. A little more paratiy could make SEO marketer’s live a much happier place.

    Wedding Rings Engagement

  • david

    I think that searchers have learned to find what their searching for!

  • http://lakeadvice.com Guest

    Search has become more accurate, therefore reducing the need to continue to search. It is like the old statement: “It was in the last place I looked.” Of course it was, after you found it why would you continue to search? Search queries are becoming longer and more descriptive, search results more accurate, and fewer searches are needed.

  • http://www.seoindian.org Jason

    I feel the economic recession has a lot to do with this, especially with business oriented searches going down for suppliers, etc.

  • Guest

    Isn’t Google owned by the government, developed by the NSA…

  • http://briarpatchgiftshop.com Joe H

    From reading all the comments and more importantly watching analytic results on Google and Bing search is down but site visits are actually up. Bookmarking, social networks and shopping services or

  • Guest

    Because most of the stuff on the web is crap. Content farms have filled the web with uninteresting, poorly written dog shit.

  • http://www.free-standing-awning.com Pit McAwning

    All forms of social media search become more and more important. The arbitrary changes of search engine algorithms and the massive amount of low quality seo spam sites are good reasons to look for alternative sources of information.

  • http://www.saveonquotes.com John Clark

    I think a more vertical search is a factor (more clicks going to Google.com), Facebook (users just spend more time there), and YouTube (music/video related keyword volume). I’m curious to see what categories are down in search volume. I can see Youtube/other major properties just becoming the search engine for all media related searches.

  • http://www.gunnarandreassen.com Gunnar Andreassen

    Facebook, twitter and stuff?

  • kristen

    This has nothing to do with recession and nothing to do with mobile.
    People in a recession still look for things: “coupons” “frugal shopping” “saving money” “unemployment” “jobs” etc.

    In fact, if I were unemployed and sitting at home all day, my computer would be my new best friend in the search for a new source of income.

    Search is search. If you use google in IE, Firefox or on your phone, it’s still google.

    My 2 cents is that the growing social networks (Twitter, Facebook and sites like Yelp) have something to do with it. As well as known and trusted websites as someone else mentioned.

    People are moving to asking for information and advice online from their friends and peers and trusted sources rather than the search engines.

  • Guest

    since Google owns YouTube… when do you think they start counting YouTube searches as Google searches?

  • http://backgroundimagemaker.com Bryan

    The WWW is constantly changing, and with this the concept of search. With the advent of social networking I’m wondering what search engines will look like in a few years. Wonder if people will mainly search within certain networks.

  • http://www.cmsbuffet.com/ CmsBuffet.com

    I think less searches are partly due to:
    – web sites improved stickiness, and they have more returning traffic (skipping the search engine)
    – Web visitors improved the way they search and get to the data with less searches
    – recession – less searches for products
    – many people on social media web sites
    – Google Locals and Bing Locals giving you answers even when you search broadly. if you are in Toronto, and searching for Carpet Cleaning, the Google locals will give you results, as if you searched for Carpet Cleaning Service Toronto

  • http://www.GoECart.com Manish @GoECart

    Yes, we are entering the mainstream phase of the Internet after nearly 15 years. Many users now “recognize” the popular destinations and they don’t thus need to search. Just like the real world, you do not search the yellow pages from where you buy your weekly grocery or fill your gas because you know those places already. The growth in search volume is likely to come from new markets like Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

    Follow me on Twitter @GoECart

  • http://www.worldtravelingartist.com/about Alexander

    >> So are you saying Nielsen didn’t include mobile searches in these stats?

    Good point @Mobile Seatch!

  • http://www.fungamesarena.com Tayl

    Old times people doesnt know what they want on the internet or how to search it and used the search engines for everything and they searched a lot of terms for the right results. But now they know what they want and know how to search for exactly terms or subjects.

  • http://www.signswest.com Mark Yurik

    Search numbers falling ? I

  • Guest

    I think people are spending less money. At least haif of my Online searching is looking for good prices on products I want to buy

  • http://yourmind.lovez.it/ Attila

    Never. And I tell you why. Every big organism is built on its constituent little cells, every giant is built on the small cells, the tiny molecules of it. But in the search engine market, the only one that respects in a great measure the little cells, meaning the simple individuals, the internauts, the bloggers, is Google. Yahoo and MSN both make people feel unworthy of being in league with the big boys. And until msn and yahoo won’t start sharing revenue, like google does through adsense, with the “little guys”, us, internauts, bloggers, etc., they will never beat google. It’s simple why: it’s a law of nature. You can’t become big and stop feeding the cells that made you big.
    Every organism that fails to recognize this, will simply fail to exist after a while.
    Without the little molecules, there is no big organism, period !.

  • http://www.tanks.net tank guy James

    I agree with Thomas, one may do an initial search on Google then further searches within large niche sites or wikipedia et cetera.

  • http://www.plutocrazy.com/blog/ Len

    First off, the stats may be skewed because they report a decline based on year over year comparisons, but I don’t see where there was any factoring in of new online users. I read somewhere the increase in the US was 1.3% or something like that. So the decline, was actually greater if these percentages were not included.

    That said, this interview with Nikesh Arora, top business executive at Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TOr1MrOt0A would indicate Google is aware of the decline in searches and has plans and products in development to address the issue. It’s a long, but interesting interview.

    There are alternatives to conventional search engines now with the advent of smart phones. Plus, there are some incredibly informative, constantly updated blogs, websites, forums and communities for every interest conceivable that do the searching for users and deliver the results in easy to access, convenient formats. The rising popularity of such sites and their ability to deliver very targeted information, naturally reduces the need for many to turn to conventional SEs.

  • http://housedogtrainingtips.com/ House Dog Training Tips

    Just like David said, I also think that people got better with targeted searching.

  • Marty Galyean

    I find searching less useful than in the past. Three issues: First, it seems to me that popular sites have taken over the gaze of search engines and the really cool raw “grass roots” info that used to be out there (and I assume still is) is harder and harder to find via search. I used to be able to search on Google and find the most obscure stuff from all over the map. But now, I seem to find the same dozen or so hits over and over along with some obvious spam and keyword fly-paper redirect sites while totally missing sites that I know existed, and probably still do, but probably don’t get a lot of hits because I’m marching to my own drummer. Ranking appears less real-information relevant and more popularity relevant. The popularity thing is a very slippery slope as should be clear to anyone who has observed an ant colony hungrily raiding and consuming a poison laced ant-bait trap to the exclusion of other food sources. Just because others go to a site can have little relevance to someone looking for real gems on the web. And just because the SE says a site is good, shouldn’t make it “good” simply because a lot of people are directed there by the SE. Self-fulfilling for certain.

    Second, while I am staunchly pro-commerce, search engines should be able to focus a query on DIY, homemade, grass roots info without having to construct a query so complex the SE can hardly handle it. My main reason for searching the web is to find out how others have solved their similar problems in gardening, carpentry, electronics, whatever. This is very different from a product search which I also do on occasion. If Google or Bing or whoever can’t make such a thing pay, then I’d be willing to pay a subscription fee to whoever could get a good SE going based on DIY info. Sites like instructables.com is a fair example, and I love it, but still not exactly what I want. I want a search engine that finds that kind of information wherever it is and not dependent upon it being posted to a particular site (like instructables.com). Halfbakery.com is another favorite. This raw, pre-commercial, information is the basic building block of innovation, inspiration, and the foundation of a healthy commercial economy in my view. And if I recall correctly, this very aspect was the biggest selling point of the “Information Age”.

    In short, search engines seem to be getting worse and worse at fulfilling this basic premise of access to raw innovative information. They tilt toward popular, polished, prepared, and “cooked” information over the grass-roots raw stuff from the trenches of human innovation. The search engines ‘self-fulfill’ their rankings mostly in my view and that is regressive with respect to the point of the internet which is to highlight new opportunities of innovation, not to canalize into worn ruts.

    Third and last, too much info on the web has no *expiration date*, or any date, assigned to it. There are far too many pages out there with no date at all on them. Trying to find recent information on a given subject as opposed to information years old is about impossible without eyeballing every page in the result set. This is absurd. Even if a page doesn’t have a single date on it, the Google or Bing or whatever indexer *knows* when that page first appeared and could use that as a rough estimate of the timeliness of the info. Why doesn’t it? Why can’t I put a date range in a query and have it work mostly? Lack of innovation or inspiration?

    Well, any reader at Google or Microsoft or wherever may feel inspired by this post if they want. There is some freely given inspiration for ya. Olde Schoole.

    • Joey

      After all, good comment !!

      You are right, SE focus their results in popularity, like the high school, if someone is popular will obtain all the attention even when this someone is a complete jerk and have nothing to say and no useful info.

      The small and medium business have been affected very strongly by these rules, usually the trade is being devastated when the most powerful tool on the planet just want to find popular, people are looking online today serves to amuse each more boring world population and that is why the results are bad, very bad. People are not amused with DIY, people are entertained with celebrity gossip and other nonsense.

      Following his comment, having a website today is more of a luxury than a necessity, and how well you say, and add to this, who the hell is going to look for some building materials specializing in Facebook … NO ONE!

      The rescue is needed that for which they were created. Greetings.

  • http://www.seowebexpert.co.uk Guest

    Perhaps the reason for the slight decline in total searches is due to the search engines returning better result sets so that searchers are finding what they want quicker. It could also be due to people understanding how to search a little bit better.

  • bob

    comscore shows a different picture, they said searches increased by 1 percent y-o-y

  • http://business-website.webs.com/legitworkfromhome.htm Mohann

    With the rise in number and use of social media, many people don’t seem to have time for searches. With sites like FaceBook being used for internet marketing and referrals, there is not much demand for any more information. Added to this Twitter has become another addiction where one can get all links to information.

  • http://christmasgifts.info/ Christmas Gifts

    Mobile devices are certainly becoming more popular for accessing the net. Does it mean internet marketers should optimize their sites for mobile devices.

  • http://www.iconwebservices.co.uk Web Design Cornwall

    I feel that ultimately the normal approach to search on the Internet will inevitably evolve. This means that our current so called decrease in search traffic is merely a part of this evolution of the net in the form of diversification in how we all access information. Also it follows that as we get smarter at using this technology we will be more efficient at getting to what we want thus reducing the amount of searching overall.

    However I think that this current downturn in searches is predominantly due to the large uptake of these new

  • http://www.topwebsitetips.com Dwayne

    No Doubt the fewer number of searches has something to do with the recent economy. When people are worried about their jobs they have a tendency to spend less. Along with buying less comes, less searching for what to buy.

  • http://marketingmasters.blogfa.com Rahim Nazari

    According to chaos theory, the drop in Internet search was predictable.
    According to the information explosion caused the Internet, but on the other side of the volume of information searchers were looking for. On the other hand junk information, like grass growing in the Internet space, Many users and resources such as me address them in a text file and saved to study these sources were limited.

  • http://www.phraseset.com Tim Higgins

    One of the reasons is that there were a lot more unemployed a year ago and so people at home spend more time on the net looking for money, work or ways to save money. simple as that.imho

    • Guest

      I’d have to disagree. I don’t think the unemployment number has improved significantly enough in the last year to have a measurable effect on search.

  • http://www.lambodarsahu.com Lambodar Sahu

    This is because of the Easy and convenience way of using Search Tool by the latest technologies. The mobile search is going up and up.

  • http://www.travel-culture.com Jamal Panhwar

    People now hang around social networking sites and do all sorts of non productive things they search less and waste more time in commenting and chating.

    Also lot of may the economic situation makes people look for less stuff and rely on what ever they have. Travel was one of the biggest volume of searches and now lesser people are planning for travel may be that is the reason.

  • http://www.real-photo-postcards.net Posty

    I wonder how many searches are now being done via Twitter and the various spin off mash sites built around twitter linked content?

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