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Rich Skrenta did some quick calculations based on search referrals from a few large sites—his research shows Google’s real market share might be as high as 70%. Ironically, yesterday was the day that Nielsen/NetRatings clocked in with its numbers, with Google still listed as barely below 50%. What gives?


As someone who has been quoting Comscore numbers that show Google’s share of searches in the 40s, I’ve long known that this number may have no relation to the number of referrals drawn to a particular site. When I worked at ibm.com, we routinely saw our search referrals from Google exceed 70% of our totals, and I’ve spoken to other companies with the same experience.
I’ve always theorized that savvy Web searchers are more likely to use Google, because when they formed their search habits a few years ago, Google was the trendy techie search engine. Yahoo! used Google but geeks wanted to show off they knew the real deal. And the Google toolbar effectively locked in the choice among this group. So, I thought that IBM’s customers might strongly prefer Google, but more consumer-oriented sites might skew higher to Yahoo! and MSN.
But when I look at Rich’s list, I don’t think of the USA Today as a geek mecca. That’s exactly the kind of site that I would have expected Yahoo! referrals to be high on. But it’s not. Rich believes that Comscore and Nielsen and the rest simply have it wrong. Rich doesn’t have scientific evidence that proves his assertion, but it certainly does make you think.
I wonder whether Comscore or Nelsen will comment.

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

1 reply to this post
  1. I look at a lot of analytics because of my job and I can easily see that Google has more than 50% market share of search engines. However the pattern of choosing the new trendy search engine when habits are formed will repeat itself with a new source when the next generation wants something different more “trendy”. This group will be a much larger group than ours as well so it’s not unlikely that we will see a new player in the next 3-5 years that completely rocks the search industry as we know it.

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