Google’s Dominance and Microsoft’s Perseverance

Is Google Just Unstoppable?

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Year after year, and month after month we keep an eye on the search engine market share picture. Over and over again in the US, we see Google completely dominating (more so with each year it seems), Yahoo a ways back, and Microsoft even further back.

These three search engines have long been known as "the big three," although in reality, there’s really only a "big one." Looking at the latest stats from Hitwise, you can see that Google’s gaining market share and the others are losing it.

Hitwise Stats

But that doesn’t mean the other two have given up. In fact, it almost feels like both Microsoft and Yahoo feel like they have a good chance of catching Google in the forseeable future – if only they can overcome a few hurdles. To the outsider it seems a bit more far-fetched, but they’re trying.

What Microsoft is Trying to Do to Catch Google

Nick Wingfield blogs at the Wall Street Journal about Microsoft’s hurdles in the search market as the company struggles with branding issues. Microsoft’s search brand is as Wingfield points out, a "confusing jumble." Right now, they’ve got Live Search at live.com. Then they’ve got various other products with live in the title. Then there’s MSN Search – msnsearch.com redirects to live.com. Now they’re throwing names like Kumo and Kiev into the mix. That ought to help. Meanwhile, Google is still Google and Yahoo is still Yahoo. Perhaps they’re overlooking their strongest brand – oh, I don’t know…"Microsoft?"

What if they branded Microsoft.com as the place to go for searching? There’s a search box right at the top of the site, but it doesn’t search the web if you enter your query and hit enter. Yes there is a button for web, which goes to Live Search results, but otherwise you are searching for stuff on Micosoft’s own property. Maybe some adjustments here would be a start in the right direction. I still hesitate to believe it would put much of a dent in Google’s share, but it would make better use of a brand name that EVERYONE knows.

Microsoft.com - Search Box

Accoding to Wingfield’s post, Micosoft has been giving users "blind taste tests" comparing Google results and Microsoft results. According to them, people can’t tell the difference. If this is the case, branding rather than relevancy is the real issue. And it’s something Microsoft is looking to improve, but will they succeed in this or just come up with the next "live.com" which isn’t really that old of a brand itself?

Does it even matter at this point anyway? Based on this "taste test" business, it sounds like people find Microsoft results as good as Google’s. Not better. Why would Google users change just to get more of the same from a place they’re not used to going? Add the fact that many Google users have their time invested in many other Google products on the web (like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, AdWords, their iGoogle home pages, etc.). Google search is always close by to these people too.

The Other Two

Meanwhile, Yahoo is doing its own thing, going more open, and more social, etc. Matt McGee has an article worth reading about Yahoo’s strategy of "going back to the future" under new CEO Carol Bartz.

As for Google, it keeps doing its thing, and people keep using it. It continually makes changes to its algorithm, and despite complaints here and there (mostly from marketers), they’re keeping the butts in the seats, so to speak. Rand Fishkin at SEOmoz has an interesting article and graph looking at how Google’s algorithm has changed over time.

Google’s constantly tweaking results. Perhaps Microsoft’s (and Yahoo’s for that matter) greatest hope is simply for Google to make a wrong move and send users running for the search engine hills. If I were either of these search engines, I would not be holding my breath on that. After all, sometimes not even a wrong move can steer people away from familiarity and comfort. I wonder how many people infuriated by the recent Facebook redesign stopped using Facebook in favor of a different network. What’s Facebook’s number up to now, 200 Million?

Google’s Dominance and Microsoft’s Perseverance
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  • empirestatebuddy

    i use Vista, Explorer, Office and… Google. why? because, in the past, Google was better. maybe they’re equal (now), but as Crum points out… why change? Microsoft and Yahoo need to give consumers a reason to switch… a very good reason. just as Google has to give us a good reason to switch to Android or Chrome…

  • http://www.internetinc.com/ eric shannon

    That’s some very clear thinking about the horserace and I think you can draw conclusions for a lot of other segments on the Internet from it.

    Particularly the fact that users cannot tell the difference in the results… because, there certainly are differences. What do you make of that contradiction?

    — Eric

    • Chris Crum

      Frankly, I just wonder how controlled these results were.

  • C

    I just get the sense that Microsoft knows it needs Yahoo and Carol Bartz is more schrewd than Jerry Yang. As this market seems to get stronger it makes sense for Ballmer to make another bid at a little less than his original offer to save face with shareholders and Carol will be wise to take it as a huge premium to its current $13.47 stock price. The longer Microsoft waits the more they will pay if the market keeps rebounding. This deal gets done this weekend, my prediction.

  • http://linkdirs.blogspot.com/ Eric from SEO Link Directories

    You certainly are right about Microsft should use their brand name and I don’t think live.com can attract visitors the way microsoft.com can. Yahoo is definitely striving hard and I think they will soon reap the fruits of their efforts, as for Google, I don’t see it making any ‘BIG’ mistake in near future.

  • http://blog.hichamaged.net/ Hicham

    I don’t think it’s about the ‘name’ as much as it’s the ‘algorithm’ implemented by the ‘big three’ in the search engine market.

    For example, search for any keyword within the 3 engines and see how sometimes it’s totally different how the same page included in the results. Till now, google almost fetch the stuff and don’t forget about the PageRank; something that every webmaster care about!

    • Chris Crum

      You’ve got to consider that most Google users aren’t necessarily webmasters though.

      • http://blog.hichamaged.net/ Hicham

        For sure, Chris. That’s why I mentioned how searching a keyword via the big three might show up different results in positioning.

  • http://mysmartweb.110mb.com mysmartweb

    i like these stats and i agree completely with your post google is becoming the master of search over the web,yes google is unstoppable rather uncompetitive.it is believed by some experts that google may capture all the big divas in the market.

    • Guest

      I integrated Google serch on my site http://www.moscowbeauties.ru It works very nice. But unfortunately it doesnt work with russian leters. But with latin latters it show the best results of searching. As for me, first of all I seach something in the Internet with the help of russian Yandex search and then Google. Sometimes – Yahoo. Never MSN. But I like Micrisoft’s soft.

      Best wishies from Russia


  • Guest

    Microsoft’s biggest hurdle is Ballmer.

  • http://www.freestuffheadquarters.com Freebie King

    I think Google is stoppable if they get changing their algorithms every other week. I’m getting tired of the constantly changing search results. Yahoo provides me with much more reliable results. If their name had become a verb like Googles did, they would have much more market share.

  • http://www.seoworkgroup.com seoworkgroup

    yes i think google is unstoppable until and unless they make a mistake

  • http://www.deutsches-factoring-portal.de Michael

    I think Google is unstoppable! Because most of the internetusers only knows google…

  • http://www.sportinggoodslive.com George Packard

    I think that most forget that Google is not just a search engine, but an advertising platform as well.

    Perhaps this is one of the reasons Google remains so strong.

  • http://www.cherrylandwebdesign.com Traverse City Web Design

    Its hard to see anybody breaking Google’s dominance now, especially in this economic climate.The others must be disappointed they have gone backwards.

  • http://www.seowaukeshawebdesign.com Web Designer in Waukesha

    Google is a verb – it’s part of the business lexicon like Kleenex and Xerox. Unless some game-changing technology comes along that Google ignores, it’s very hard to imaging Google being usurped by another SE.

  • http://www.horozima.com Horozima

    Even though Google dominates the search engine industry,It faces tough competition from social book marking sites (digg,reddit,yahoo buzz etc ) and micro blogging sites such as Twitter when it comes in the field of total web traffic. Most of the times Google fails to provide fresh web content but Twitter & Digg can give you real time updates from web world and there is a need of a “Perfect Search engine” which can index the real time stories.Here it is good chance for the rivals of Google(Microsoft & Yahoo) to play some mind game to develop such one.

  • Guest

    Google is not unstoppable and google does not need to fear Yahoo or microsoft it needs to fear google itself.

    Over the last 18 months google search has become not so great, when doing a search on many subjects the first page is nothing but directories.

    Google is dead against link farms and paid links??

    So what are directories??

    So people get sick of directories they click on the paid links??

    Am I wrong??

    • Guest

      I think you raise a good point. Directories are annoying. As a matter of fact, people will scroll way down past the directories just to find what looks like an honest, organic SE result.

      This is based purely on anecdotal evidence of my own, of course, but it seems to make sense that a better site is one which produces honest content, therefore honest SE results rather than simply a link promoted through an online telephone directory.

      I agree with the article’s premise, which is that Microsoft is having a real identity crisis.

  • http://www.greenteeth.com/ Ian Thorpe

    Whaty the article and comment thread shows is that people have been brainwshed into believing google is the best search engine just as they were brainwashed into believing Microsoft DOS years back and later Windows were the best operating systems when neither was at the time the various versions of both were launched.

    The quasi religious qualty of google’s support is shown by the person who says they have the brightest minds on the planet working for them. If the google team were really all that bright they would be able to understand that just because two articles contain the same word it does not mean there is a contextual link.

    We need to get over the idea so careflly seeded by google that the quality of a search engine can be judged by the number of results it throws up (!) I dont’t want a million results I want five or ten relevant results – which is what I get on Alta Vista or Ask.


  • Guest

    Nobody is going to be able to catch Google as long as they continue to operate as they do today. Especially Microsoft. Google uses a lot of open source software (mostly Linux), and develops and contributes a LOT back to the open source community. Because of this, Google has been able to strengthen itself significantly over its competition. Microsoft is so closed-minded and tries to do things its own way, that I don’t see how they will ever be able to grow much more and even think about being a competitor in the future. Time will definitely show us. Thankfully Google recognizes the open source movement and is on board. Open source itself is making a big movement, which I document in more detail myself:


  • http://www.q-tuner.com Yohimbe

    I’ve noticed that I visit Yahoo more ofen just to read the news items. Perhaps it’s a good idea for live.com as well to become more than just a search box.

  • http://www.wsiseoexpert.com SEO Norfolk VA

    As an SEO, I give top priority to Google always. Yes, Yahoo and MSN are important but my clients aren’t blasting me when their MSN rankings drop. But if they slide even a couple of spots on Google, the phone starts ringing. It’s just reality. Look at your analytics and you’ll quickly see your referral traffic sugar daddy is: Google.

  • http://www.Nurburg.eu FaTe

    I think the most relevant point for Microsoft as stated is too stop confusing the users with so many pointless names and use the search feature as mentioned above on the main Microsoft home page.

  • Guest

    Your journalism sucks

  • http://www.ukmagz.co.uk Jawad (UK Magazines)

    We really have no need to go into figures. Might it is because of the way google algorithm works. Yahoo and msn gives more importance to page titles but google check for the quality content on the pages. One of my web site related to UK Magazines (http://www.ukmagz.co.uk) is in top 3 position for my main keywords like “UK Magazines” , “UK Magazine” etc. in the Yahoo UK, but Would you believe I only receive 3 to 6 unique visits from yahoo daily. At the same time on google my websites avg position is 15 but I receive 30 to 40 unique visits daily.


  • http://www.linknet-promotions.com Rickh

    Who cares about this? Google is winning, blah, blah, blah. Do you know what kind of coffee you drink, and does it matter to you if they are the dominant player in the market?

    • Guest

      Why are you even on this site?

  • Guest

    It doesen’t really matter who is #1. We all use the “big 3″ search engines. If I can’t find what I’m looking for on one, I just try another.

    • http://www.all-restaurants-usa.com all restaurants usa

      I don’t agree – i think people will refine there search rather than look at the other 2 search engines.

  • http://www.all-restaurants-usa.com paul

    I Still use google and if i can’t find what i’m looking for on the first page – guess what i look for it on page two – or i refine my search – it wouldn’t cross my mind to use yahoo or msn(live).

    I don’t agree that google will be the number one daddy forever – remember they used to say that about yahoo only this century.

  • http://www.cafepress.com/gendesigns glenda

    I agree, I don’t believe Google will be on top forever. At this point in time, they are the ‘news'; hence some people gravitate to them.

    Now, if the media starts “recognizing” another with as much fanfare as they have been giving to Google, then probably ??? the internet users might cross-over.

  • http://www.saheltech.com holyhttp

    Does anyone learn anything from the past presidential election?
    No, I am not talking politics here.
    What set apart winning team from the others is consitency in the message and being in tune with the people’s need.

    Google is about search and search only. They do not need to be the best. As long as I can find something closed to the solution I am looking for, a website easy to use that does not distract me from my goal then I will go for Google.

    Yahoo is as good as Google but its website is so distracting you wonder what’s their main focus. Microsoft is yet to find its identity as far as the search engine is concerned.

    Users do not have time to guess:
    When I searching general information, I google it
    If I am looking for movies and entertainement schedules I go to Yahoo.
    Microsoft Live Search I still do not know how to do with that. The only times I end up there is when I am tricked to click a link from my hotmail account.

    So until the other two contenders are clear about what service they are offering, the users will go to the strore proudly displying the OPEN FOR BUSINESS sign.

  • http://www.lucking.homecall.co.uk/Index.html Guest

    I use Google because it`s simply the best.

  • Google apostate

    “Guest (WPN reader)” at 8:59 was closest to the mark. We’d relied first and foremost on Google for years for the same reason that they leapfrogged every other search engine / direstory on the web — their ability to spider entire pages in their index and return search results based on relevancy, especially to long-string search queries. But we’ve turned to MSN Live as our first resort since last fall, when Google’s algorithm tweaks began returning garbage results (and failing to return relevant results) based more on “popularity,” paid links, and SEO duplicity rather than relevance to the search query.

    Aside from branding, MSN’s (and Yahoo’s) best bet to stop losing ground to Google is to focus on doing what once made Google great — returning relevant results, without churning up garbage results alongside or ahead of the relevant results. Google’s Image search, however, remains head and shoulders (and hips and knees) ahead of anyone else’s, if only for its streamlined format and ease of use.

  • toto

    Microsoft will catch up to Google when:

    – MS start teaming up with pantyless celebrities, rappers.
    – Start kissing webmasters’ tails. Providing them the world.
    – Providing relevant results.

    That’s the only way for any Microsoft SE to catch up to Google.

    • Guest

      and also need to change that ugly Live Search name.

  • http://blog.1804design.com Alfred

    People partly trust brands when it comes to getting results.
    Microsoft is just that edge, Microsoft needs; not those other names.

  • http://www.webstar.com.my yurich

    Quite frankly, Google is TOP as it cater for the needs of people in greater spectrum compares to Y & MSN. It does help even for people that are not having computering skill like myself. It help to build my website for a start and provide knowledge. I know I do not need a website but to make sure I will not be left behind in the IT industry.

    Using Google is Fun and easy.

  • http://www.happyraft.com Mark

    Yahoo Is still strongest in Japan – Crazy isnt it?
    Google is a distant 2nd – Yahoos search quality leaves a bit to be desired but Yahoo has spent the money marketing in Japan and as google is everywhere else in the world, once established and familiar its very hard to change.

  • http://www.seosean.com Affordable SEO Services

    I leave it all to poor marketing done by both Yahoo and Microsoft. If they had better marketing they could easily pull some of that search share back onto their sites.

  • Guest

    Google is almost *ONLY* an advertising platform! This is true for the other search engines, and a large quantity of web sites. As is true for TV and radio, they provide content (search results) and in return they receive advertising revenue.

  • Gary Russell

    The best thing about Google is that its front page is simple and clean. Yahoo’s is cluttered beyond belief, and takes a while to load; it is extremely annoying.

    I have noticed that Google’s results have become poorer over the last year or two, but this has been matched by a downgrade in results from Yahoo as well. The newcomer Cuil is American centric, making it meaningless.

    Another strength of Google, is its ability to search bast on a country. I keep separate links to Google UK and Google Australia, as it helps on the search results.

  • http://www.logodesignnext.com/ Logo design service

    While I do agree that microsoft need to leverage their strongest brand name “Microsoft” to compete as a viable search destination, however frankly i can’t see people typing the somewhat difficult to type microsoft.com in the browsers just to make a search for a 5 to 8-character string.

    MS.com perhaps? The whole world already knows what MS (M$ for some!) stands for, so it would be easy for them to get recognized than when coming up with something new like kumo or kiev.

  • http://www.ozinnovations.com.au Ozinnovations

    Google brand has been planted to people as search engine and Microsoft as OS. Way to go for Microsoft to catch up with Google being a search engine provider and the other way applies too, for Google to catch up with Microsoft in OS.

  • http://www.dachshund.homecall.co.uk/ Just Photos

    I google, you google, we have googled and we are all going to google.

  • Guest

    What Google seems to understand and others don’t is that there is still a huge population using dial up for their internet access and the content on Yahoo and MS’s start page simply takes to long to load for dial up users to be able to search from there.

  • Lynch

    “I don’t know. Perhaps you should Google it.”

    That right there, is branding the you cannot buy away from someone else once they have it.

    Once your company name becomes the deliverable product, or becomes a verb used to represent obtaining the product… you cannot have that market taken from you… you can give it away… or as they say in sports “it’s your game to lose”, but there is no way that MS or anyone else is going to actually “take” that market from them.

    They would have to put a moron in charge of Google, for years, for that to happen.


  • http://www.barrowvale.com Oliver

    I believe that Google have misled us. The organic results deliver poor quality results and this is in Google

  • http://www.donaven.com Donaven


    not as catchy as google, but sayable…
    keeping the Microsoft brand hinted in the name instead of the other bunkie names they’re coming up with.

    Just a thought from a hard-core Google user still wanting to keep it competative.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/stee1dragon Teraunce

    I moved onto dogpile.com when I found out that it searches all of the “Big 3″‘s search results, as well as ask.com.

    • http://crazynuts.hollosite.com/ blitzed

      I like IXquick better than DogPile, and privacy is an added bonus.


  • George

    I like the site http://www.mysearchexchange.com and it is also linked to http://www.freerelevantlinks.com for nice link exchanges

  • http://www.gadzira.com Gadzira

    Microsodt will have their day and when they do they will really give Google a run for their money – think i am going to put this observation down on my blog with reasoning and then do a track back.

    let you know when it exists :)

  • http://www.shopingbynet.com earning money on internet through work at home jobs

    This is becouse the google is great in the developing its unique products and involvement with its online peoples , peoples like heros , just like in game, so google is best and is hero ,
    In rescent , google has rooled out personalised search where , its users can selct what they want,
    I dont know do this , yahoo or msn or other search engine do this.

    • http://www.inspiero.com Harris

      I think it’s just natural if Google is still dominating the universal search engine. It’s paid off because it works hard for people, connecting people well, and makes life easier and faster on the web.

      I wrote in my blog (very new) in bahasa Indonesia that ‘you should have google as the first wife, yahoo the 2nd, and MSN 3rd.”

  • http://hero-bussiness.blogspot.com Hero-Business

    Nice Info….i always read ur news….but can i copy a little , on my blog

  • http://www.sinohosting.net Chinese Web Hosting

    Google is just better. Yahoo and Microsoft have a lot of work to do to in order to catch up with Google. It is not a name issue here.

  • http://plasticstorage.com Plastic Bins

    the reason google continues to dominate is because they are always a step ahead in their innovation. If google’s competitors decided to spend as much time/effort/money on staying ahead of the curve, they’d be able to keep up. Until then, google will reign supreme

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