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Google is the Biggest — But Is It the Best?

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Google’s share of the search engine market swallows up the rest of the competition.  At more than two-thirds, Google is undoubtedly the biggest, most-used search engine in the world.  A report recently released from Experian Hitwise, however, suggests that while it is the biggest, it is not the best.  The report found that, in general, Google did not return the best results; it didn’t even run a close second.  Google, according to Hitwise, scored below both Yahoo and Bing by a significant margin.

According to Hitwise’s research, Yahoo had the highest success rate.  Their definition of success is when a query results in a click through to a website.  Over 81 percent of Yahoo’s searches were deemed successful, and Bing followed closely with a bit over 80 percent.  Where was Google?  Coincidentally, their success rate is about the same as their market share: 66.7 percent.  Hitwise released a statement saying, “The share of unsuccessful searches highlights the opportunity for both the search engines and marketers to evaluate the search engine result page to ensure that searchers are finding relevant information.”

Before marketers abandon Google, though, it is important to weigh this report against the factors that could influence the numbers.  One of these factors is Google Preview.  Under the definition of success used by Hitwise, a searcher must click on a website.  Say you were searching for the phone number of your favorite take-out restaurant.  You Google it, and the phone number is listed in Google Preview (as it should be! That is good SEO positioning).  Your search has been successful insofar as you have achieved your goal and obtained the information you wanted – but it does not meet the standard for success according to Hitwise.

By the same token, if you click on to a website to find a piece of information, are not successful, and have to try again, your search is still considered by Hitwise to have been a “success.”  Could this have skewed Google’s numbers?  It is very possible, but it is also possible that Google has been slipping in the quality department.  In their zest to take on social, have they forgotten about search?

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