Experian Hitwise pointed out yesterday that UK internet users’ visits to search engines is sustaining a massive growth rate. Year-on-year, there was an 8.7% increase in visits to search engines when comparing February 2012 and February 2011 and the trend appears to set to continue next month.
One thing I immediately noticed about the visits to search engines in the United Kingdom is that “search engine” might as well be spelled G-O-O-G-L-E. Last month, Google netted 91.57% of all searches, up from 90.64% in January 2012. That market share for Google is up from last year at the same time by .89%. The nearest competitor to Google is Microsoft, whose sites (like Bing) amassed a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3.69% of the search market. Yahoo claimed 2.58% and after that, remaining people who didn’t use those three search sites went back to using two aluminum cans connected with a piece of twine.
Comparatively, Google’s market share of online search in the United States isn’t quite that dominant for February 2012 but it’s still unquestionably commanding at 66.4%. Laying claim to two-thirds of the search market is still an amazing take but it’s nowhere near the absolute monopoly Google has on search in the UK.
Google isn’t eating most of the search pie in the UK so much as its gobbling up all of it and leaving Microsoft and Yahoo to bicker over the crumbs left cooling on the placemat. Microsoft is slowly carving out a piece of the search market for itself in the United States, but its virtually non-existant in the UK. So why is Google so much more dominant in the UK, I wonder.
James Murray, a marketing research analyst with Experian Hitwise, spoke with me about why Google has achieved such an irresistible dominance in the search market. Turns out it really might be as simple as pointing to Google’s unrivaled quality in producing reliable search results.
“In the UK at least Google has held over a 90% share of the search market for at least the last five years,” Murray said. “What’s amazing is that Google managed to achieve such a dominant place in the UK search market with no discernible advertising or marketing. It achieved its status by being the best in its field, offering the most relevant information and by word of mouth.”
Murray also notes that Google’s achievement has been so convincing that it’s changed the vernacular related to internet search.
“Google has just become synonymous with search, so much so that we’ve created a verb around its brand name,” he added. “When you want to find information online, you Google it, that’s how powerful the brand is.”
That much is true no matter what side of the Atlantic you find yourself on. As for why Google has been verbified to denote the act of conducting an internet search in the UK? Maybe it’s just more fun to say with a British tongue. Regardless, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the UK that uses Bing or Yahoo to search the internet.