Every month I write about market share and inevitably the story tends to remain the same "¦ Google big and growing. An interesting data point got me thinking recently. According to Compete data there are roughly 7.5 billion search queries performed every month by the US Online Population. However there are only about 5 billion search referrals every month. This means that roughly 1/3 of all searches in some sense go unanswered. People search for something and then don’t click on a search result. So the obvious question is which search engine is doing the best job from a "search fulfillment" standpoint? As a reminder here is where we stood from a market share perspective in August.
As I noted a few weeks ago, Google gets about 2/3rds of the web search volume. So from this perspective Google appears to dominate and have the most successful search engine. If volume is an indication of effectiveness, one might be ready to crown Google the best search engine. However, if we look at the numbers from a "search fulfillment" perspective by engine we get a very different story.
Yahoo! pretty much takes the cake on this one with about 75% of searches performed on Yahoo! in August resulted in a referral. By comparison, searches on Google result in a referral about 65% of the time and searches on MSN/Live result in a referral about 59% of the time. Lower search fulfillment numbers mean that on a percentage basis fewer search queries on that engine resulted in the searcher clicking on a result link. So from this perspective one might consider Yahoo! more effective at getting consumers the results they want.
In reality the devil is in the details and the story is much more complicated than that, but it’s always interesting to look at something from a new angle. Regardless of your opinion of which engine is more effective, it is important to consider actual referrals as well as top level searches. This is one of the reasons that we focused our Search Analytics tools on helping marketers understand actual search referral traffic as opposed to simple search query volumes.