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What’s Google’s real market share?

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

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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