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Viewing The Search Engine Landscape

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Chris Richardson of WebProNews sat in for the Search Engine Landscape session at the SES 2005 conference, and found out local search blurs the line between fixed content and dynamic results.

Who’s the real power in the online search market? Do local searches bring you business? Let us know what has worked for you in the WebProWorld forums.

Those local search visitors tend to be female, affluent, and concerned about the weather. In the session, speakers James Lamberti from comScore and Bill Tancer from Hitwise took a look at several search engines, and found Google and Yahoo getting the lion’s share of local search traffic.

The speakers made a point of discussing local search being the most important area in respect to search engine growth. Making a search engine as invaluable today as the Yellow Pages were in pre-Internet days for local users will drive that market. According to the speakers, 13 percent of all searches relate to queries for local data.

The two major portals, MSN and Yahoo, get a lot of their traffic from outside of search queries. That seems to be in line with their philosophies, where they have created sites that are as much a destination as they are a mechanism, like Google, to get to a place online.

By the numbers, searcher growth year to year has been around 9 percent. Search activity has jumped by 27 percent since 2004; greater broadband penetration into the Internet user base has translated into more online activity, and more search traffic.

In the session, the speakers made an observation about Google and Yahoo. Google has been gaining market share, and has been doing so at the expense of Yahoo. That may explain why Yahoo has been pushing to expand its services to mobile phones; Yahoo also has to be concerned with AOL and its new transition to portal status, complete with mobile handset service strategy.

Toolbars offer search users some excellent features. The past activities of spyware/adware companies have left many users wary of toolbars, though. But Yahoo has almost half the market share of toolbar users.

Overall, the speakers note Google dominates the search landscape. Worldwide, the Mountain View-based Googleplex is home to the largest share of search engine activity. In Germany and the UK, its share of the market rests at nearly 80 percent.

Site owners will want to be very aware of Google and its position in the search market. Local searching will grow thanks to the usefulness of maps integrated with search results, offered by Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Businesses with a local as well as an online focus should ensure their local Yellow Pages information remains up-to-date to take advantage of those searches.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Viewing The Search Engine Landscape
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