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Major Search Engines Still Getting The Traffic

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-11-08

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Despite recent publicity of several alternative search engines, as well as general excitement for the broader search industry, search traffic and its growth still resides largely with the major engines.

According to Hitwise, the world's leading online competitive intelligence service, one in every fourteen visits to the Internet by U.S. Web users goes to the top 10 search engines, a seven percent increase when compared to the same period a year ago (week ending Nov. 1, 2003).

"This increasing concentration of traffic among the top search engines, particularly Google and Yahoo! Search, is indicative of the brand equity they've built over the years," said Bill Tancer, Vice President of Research, Hitwise. "This phenomenon is underscored by the ubiquity of the larger engines in nearly every demographic and psychographic group in the Hitwise reports."

Newcomers Garner Hype, But Have Yet to Claim Mass Audiences

Five relatively new search sites (www.vivisimo.com, www.clusty.com, www.alltheweb.com, www.a9.com and www.snap.com) have received significant publicity recently, but they collectively claim only one-tenth of a percent of total visits to the Search Engines and Directories category, and each ranked below 75 according to market share.

"The market share of these search sites may be small, but it's important to note that Google itself was in such a position not too many years ago," said Tancer. "The challenge for the smaller players that want to become mainstream search portals is to gain mindshare and ultimately deliver the most relevant search results."

Visitor market share has remained relatively flat for these five sites during 2004, with the exception of Amazon.com's www.a9.com. It entered the Hitwise reports the week ending April 17, 2004 and its market share has since skyrocketed by 1,150 percent, driven largely by Amazon-related promotions. Amazon.com delivered 43 percent of www.a9.com's traffic the week ending Oct. 30, 2004.

Newcomer Search Sites Deliver Less Shopping Traffic

Compared to mainstream search sites like Google and Yahoo! Search, the five newcomers above tend to deliver a slightly lower percentage of traffic to shopping and classifieds sites - indicating lower levels of paid search listings. While four newcomers delivered between seven and eight percent of visits to shopping and classifieds the week ending Oct. 30, 2004, Google, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search each delivered approximately 10 percent of their traffic to the category. The exception was www.a9.com, which delivered 18 percent of its traffic to shopping and classifieds sites, largely influenced by the affiliation with Amazon.com.

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