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As discussed in the first ‘Rank Higher’ post, search engines are now the most popular means of finding information, and while the market is dominated by Google, there are other relevant players in the industry. Search engines rank websites according to different algorithms and have different features that separate them from one another. They can therefore be utilised in different ways to market themselves to the general public and to their target demographic. Directories, which essentially categorise and link to different kinds of websites, are also very important as far as helping a business generate an online precise.
Related article: 13 Basic SEO Tips for Business Owners to Get Started
This article will provide readers with information on the history and relevance of Australia’s leading search engines and directories.
Sending upwards of 90% of all traffic around the internet, Google ranks as the number one search engine by a significant margin and ultimately dominates the search industry. Like Facebook, the company originally started as a University Project before growing into one of the most recognisable global brand names (Google is now even considered a verb by most modern dictionaries).
Pre-Google, early search engines such as AltaVista and others essentially ranked pages according to the number of times a keyword appeared in a particular page. PhD students Larry Page and Sergery Brin of Stanford University theorised that it would be more helpful for users if pages were ranked according to the authority of the webpage. Early search engines could easily be duped into highly ranking websites whose content was keyword-stuffed and not all that valuable to the user at all.
Google’s PageRank technology introduced the idea that the quality or relevance of a website could be determined by the number of pages that link to it and the importance of those pages. Backlinks still play a fundamental part of Google search algorithm, which is periodically being adjusted to improve user experience.
Since its conception in 1997, Google has launched a number of other products closely associated with search. Among these are Google Adwords, Google translate, Google Maps, Google Plus and Google Local. It currently accounts for roughly 67% of all searches online.
Microsoft’s search engine Bing was officially launched in 2009, though it previously existed under other names. Since branding itself under the new name, the search engine has continued to see its market share grow, which sits at 18.1% at last count.
Boasting a higher ‘success rate’ than Google (which essentially means more users actually click a result after searching), Bing also powers Yahoo’s search. This means that 27.1% off all searches are powered by Bing. In actual fact, Yahoo also powers Bing’s paid search platform, which means that paid advertisers can manage their campaigns on both search engines more conveniently and inexpensively. This alliance has helped Bing grow significantly.
Bing has also been integrated with Apple’s search results, which is hugely significant considering that Google has been dropped as a result. Bing’s web search is default for iOS 7 and higher operating systems.
While Bing’s increase in the market share has mainly come at the expense of Yahoo, we’ll be watching closely to see if they can make an impact on Google’s share, which has remained relatively stable for a number of years.
Founded in 1994, Yahoo has previously been considered a leader in terms of market share in the web search world. While it still accounts for roughly 11% of total searches, its relevance has been dwindling away in recent years and it has lost a lot of ground on Google and Bing.
Originally, Yahoo did not crawl or index webpages but would rather send queries through Inktomi and Google, presenting search results with Yahoo branding but relying on other providers. In 2004, Yahoo created its own original web-crawler technology, which it named Yahoo Slurp and sold onto to other smaller web search sites.
For the past 4 or so years, Yahoo’s search has been powered by Bing. Despite this alliance, Bing seems to be increasing its share of searches at the expense of Yahoo.
There is some debate in regards to the effectiveness of utilising directories as a means of improving ranks for a website, but there is no question that they still form an important part of any online marketing strategy.
Over the years, search engine algorithms have increasingly placed less emphasis on low quality backlinks, which may describe listings in many directories. Further, the extent to which they are used has decreased somewhat, as search engines have become much more user friendly and deliver better results. The average consumer is arguably more likely to search for a service in Google rather than a directory. This is relevant because the less traffic a directories receives, the less relevant it is from an SEO perspective. However, there are certain niche directories that can be very valuable to users who, for instance, aren’t entirely sure of what they need to type into a search engine to get the desired result.