Last week I stumbled upon a recent Hitwise video seminar of their extensive UK Search engine market research.
Hitwise analyzed the top 1,500 terms searched for in the 12 weeks ending 3rd January 2009 (the last quarter of 2008) across the top 5 UK search engines, being Google.co.uk, Google.com, Yahoo, Live Search ans Ask.
Hitwise pulled out all the non-branded terms and attached a subject area to them. For example, ‘football’ was labelled as sport, ‘tv guide’ as TV, ‘oasis’ as music and so on.
Facts & figures
The video seminar, presented by Richard Seymour, started with some facts & figures of the UK search engine market, some key facts:
- A typical UK web site receives 4 in 10 visits from a search engine
- Both Google.co.uk and Google.com have a combined market share of 86.8%. The next 8.3% is handled by Yahoo, Live Search and Ask.
Long tail and search engines
Next Hitwise continued their UK Search engine market research with interesting data about the long tail of the different search engines.
Interesting is that Google.co.uk has a larger ‘tail’ than average with people searching for specific terms. More interesting is that Ask UK has a tail 4 times larger.
That means Ask has more specific niche search queries with a low volume than a few terms who dominate the search volume on the search engine. Ask UK has the longest average length of search terms, with Google the shortest.
Generally 90% of the top 1,500 search terms are brand specific terms. Only Ask UK has 73% branded search terms. And that is not a surprise if you ask me.
Hitwise ‘only’ measures the top 1,500 search terms. That means it is logical that branded search terms represent a large part of total searches, because branded terms – which mostly are single or double word search terms – generally have a much larger search volume than specific terms, dominating the top (1,500) searches.
Popular subjects on UK search engines
It is interesting to see which subjects are most popular with searchers using the top UK search engines. TV and Gaming searches are the most popular generic searches. Interesting conclusion from this is that TV has a lot of influence on searcher behavior.
Even more interesting to me is that 10% or more searches on the slightly less popular subjects like Dating, Finance and Health take place elsewhere than Google, as this excellent graph shows:
Furthermore the pie chart below shows a neat breakdown of the difference in the most popular subjects accross the search engines:
Source and destination of searches
Diving into the data learns us hoe much traffic search engines are sending to different industries and how some industries rely more on search engine traffic than others:
- The industry ‘Shopping and classifieds’ receives the most traffic from search engines (14.8%), followed by ‘Computers and Internet – Social networking’ (10.9%), ‘Business and Finance’ (10%) and ‘Travel’ (6.8%).
- The industry ‘Travel’ is most reliant on search engine traffic receiving 43.6% of its traffic from search engines, followed by ‘Shopping and Classifieds’ (40.7%), ‘Computers and Internet – Social networking’ (35.5%) and ‘Business and Finance’ (35.4%).
- After Google, Yahoo is driving the largest portion of traffic in the top subjects searched for. While Google is the search engine of choice for the popular industries ‘Computers and Internet – Social networking’, ‘Entertainment – Games’ and ‘Entertainment – Multimedia’, Yahoo drives the most traffic to industries like ‘Business and Finance’, ‘Shopping and Classifieds’ and ‘Travel’.
SEO vs Search Advertising (SEA)
Comparing SEO and Search Advertising (SEA), most industries receive a comparable part of their traffic from both organic searches and sponsored listings.
Interesting is that ‘Travel’ has the highest paid rate, whereas ‘Computers and Internet – Social networking’, ‘News and Media’ and ‘Entertainment – Games’ mostly receive their traffic from organic search listings. This is partly caused by News aggregation services and Wikipedia for instance.
Who is searching?
The video webinar ends with an example of two defined groups and their usage of search engines. This shows that different (target) groups of people search on different search engines. This is of course valuable to know when targeting a certain group of people.
Summary UK Search engine market research
- Search engines account for 2 in every 5 visits to a typical website
- People search for brands to navigate and find their favourite products and services
- 10% of the top 1500 search terms are generic (non-branded or non-navigational)
- Google has nearly 90% market share in the UK, but:
- Yahoo is strong in Travel, Retail, Business and Finance
- Live Search has gained market share and is popular for technical search queries
- Ask has a much longer tail of generic queries
- Paid search rates vary by industry and search topic.
For example the more transaction driven industries like Travel and Finance rely more on paid search, while revenue driven industries like Media and Entertainment rely more on organic search.
Hitwise just put their summary of the webinar on the Hitwise blog as well.