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The top stories from last week’s Search Engine Strategies conference in London were prompted by market research.

On Wednesday morning, June 1, Tim Roe, head of Data Analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings, arrived late to The European Search Landscape session because of highway traffic. However, his European Search Market Overview had the impact of a police siren once he arrived.

Although Roe followed four other speakers, he quickly caught up by showing that search was growing quicker than Internet penetration in Europe. While the number of Internet users in Europe has grown 4% from 110 million in April 2004 to 115 million in April 2005, the number of search users has grown 11% from 79 million to 88 million over the same period.

Then Roe turned on the flashing lights and siren by showing how Google and MSN dominate Europe. Google ranks #1 in the five biggest markets: Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain. MSN ranks #2 in all of these countries, except in France, where it ranks #3. Yahoo! ranks #3 in the UK and Spain; #4 in Germany and France; and #5 in Italy.

Rank Germany (29%) UK (23%) France (18%) Italy (16%) Spain (8%)
1 Google Google Google Google Google
2 MSN MSN Voila MSN MSN
3 AOL Yahoo! MSN Virgilio Yahoo!
4 Yahoo! Ask Jeeves Yahoo! Libero Wanadoo
5 T-Online AOL AOL Yahoo! Buscador

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings home and work data (DE, UK, FR, IT) and home data (ES), April 2005

Roe then surprised the audience by showing European searchers segmented by time spent online. Among all European searchers, 34% are heavy users of search (>15 hours per week), 39% are medium users (3-15 hours per week), and 27% are light users (<3 hours per week). However, 55% of Yahoo! searchers are heavy users, 34% are medium, and 11% are light. By comparison, 48% of MSN searchers are heavy users, 36% are medium, and 16% are light. In contrast, 37% of Google searchers are heavy users, 38% are medium, and 24% are light.

So, despite Google and MSN's dominant position in Europe's biggest markets, one of the top stories from last week's Search Engine Strategies conference in London was that Yahoo! has a significantly higher percentage of heavy searchers. Since the "search market (is) buoyant across Europe and (there's) still room for growth," according to Roe, the challenge to Google and MSN "will be to generate quality not just quantity of referrals."

Another Top Story Prompted By Market Research

One of the other top stories to come out of last week’s Search Engine Strategies conference in London was also prompted by market research. While I should disclose that I presented the surprise findings during the Advanced Link Building Forum on Thursday afternoon, June 2, I had not even seen the data until that morning.

One of the other speakers at The European Search Landscape session on Wednesday morning was Simon Chamberlain, the General Manager of Hitwise UK. After the session, I asked him if I could get Hitwise data on the top 10 news and media websites in the US and the UK. He told me to contact Lizzie Babarczy, the Senior Marketing Manager for Hitwise, who is based in New York.

I emailed her later Wednesday morning (Greenwich Mean Time), indicating that I didn’t need the Hitwise data until the weekend. But, bright and early on Thursday morning (Greenwich Mean Time) I received the data, ranked by visits for April 2005. It was so surprising that I immediately revised my presentation for that afternoon.

The presentation that I had prepared for the Advanced Link Building Forum was about putting links in press releases “to help people find interesting and related content.” But, I hadn’t included any data about the size of the news search engine audience, because the only chart I had was Nielsen//NetRatings information from December 2004 and it was only for the US. That changed faster than a traffic light as soon as I read the data below.

Here are the top 10 US news and media websites ranked by the percentage of total visits to 4,217 sites in the News & Media category:

Rank Name Domain Market Share
1 Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com 6.91%
2 The Weather Channel www.weather.com 5.31%
3 CNN.com www.cnn.com 4.28%
4 MSNBC www.msnbc.com 3.33%
5 AccuWeather www.accuweather.com 3.21%
6 Yahoo! Weather http://weather.yahoo.com 2.07%
7 Drudge Report www.drudgereport.com 1.89%
8 New York Times www.nytimes.com 1.82%
9 USA Today www.usatoday.com 1.65%
10 Google News http://news.google.com 1.61%

Source: Hitwise, April 2005

Here are the top 10 UK news and media websites ranked by the percentage of total visits to the 4,054 sites in the News & Media category:

Rank Name Domain Market Share
1 BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk 15.70%
2 Bbc.co.uk www.bbc.co.uk 15.01%
3 BBC Weather Centre www.bbc.co.uk/weather 4.25%
4 Guardian Unlimited www.guardian.co.uk 1.58%
5 Google UK News http://news.google.co.uk 1.57%
6 CNN.com www.cnn.com 1.49%
7 The Weather Channel UK www.weather.co.uk 1.28%
8 Met Office www.metoffice.gov.uk 1.28%
9 Yahoo! UK & Ireland News http://uk.news.yahoo.com 1.23%
10 Times Online www.timesonline.co.uk 1.22%

Source: Hitwise, April 2005

While there are significant differences between the top 10 news and media websites in the US and the UK, both lists include the local versions of Google News and Yahoo! News. This means that when the public or media use a news search engine on either side of the Atlantic, they can find relevant press releases mixed in with top stories from thousands of news sources. And that means that search engine marketing professionals in the UK as well as the US should put links in press releases “to help people find interesting and related content.”

This was one of the other top stories to come out of last week’s Search Engine Strategies conference in London that was also prompted by market research.

Greg Jarboe is the co-founder and CEO of SEO-PR, which provides search engine optimization and public relations services to Southwest Airlines, Verizon SuperPages.com, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), and a growing list of other organizations. Jarboe is also the editor of SEO-PRs News Blog.

Top Stories From Search Engine Strategies London
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About Greg Jarboe
Greg Jarboe is the co-founder and CEO of SEO-PR, which provides search engine optimization and public relations services to Southwest Airlines, Verizon SuperPages.com, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), and a growing list of other organizations. Jarboe is also the editor of SEO-PRs News Blog. WebProNews Writer
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