For the first few months after Yahoo decided to go their own way with natural search (and MSN decided to get serious about the search business), the search results provided by those two could only be described as bizarre. Enough time has now passed that the dust has somewhat settled and there are three main (from a traffic standpoint) sites for quality natural searches.
The term “natural search” is to distinguish true searches, as opposed to paid advertisements which appear in the search results for many search engines these days. I guess you can’t really fault the search engine companies from wanting to make some money (actually, BIG money) selling ad space, but the debate over the virtues of natural search versus paid advertising search is something that could take up a very large book and still have no clear resolution…much like arguments revolving around religion or politics.
Like most people that have been working as online home business entrepreneurs for a few years, I was strongly conditioned to the need to “feed the 800-pound gorilla” of the search engine world. Basically, “if Google didn’t love you”, it was very difficult to get any meaningful natural search traffic to your website. Since Google was actually the search engine that was serving up the results for most of the popular search portals, if Google didn’t look kindly upon your site and rank you well, you would not be ranked well for most of the high traffic search sites on the Internet.
However, the search landscape changed dramatically early in 2004 and things have been very fluid and interesting since that time. It’s not that Google has stumbled, or become ineffective as a search vehicle, it’s just that major players like Yahoo and Microsoft (via MSN) have decided to make a major thrust into the search business.
Having been firmly conditioned (since shortly after 1998) that Google was the “supreme deity of search engines”, I took the highly publicized search entries of Yahoo and MSN with more than the proverbial “grain of salt”.
Throughout a very recent two-month period, one of my websites occupied the #5 position on Google, Yahoo, and MSN for a very popular and important (at least in my line of business) three-word search term. This situation provided an opportunity to measure the current popularity of each of these three search providers.
If asked “before the fact”, I would have guessed that Google would still be the overwhelming #1 search choice and that Yahoo and MSN would be distant #2 and #3 choices. Therefore, I was somewhat surprised by the results that were tabulated during this recent 60-day period.
For the period in question, the search popularity results were as follows:
Granted, the above results are for a single search term over a particular 60-day time period, but the results clearly show that Yahoo and MSN are already important players in the search business.
Webmasters that stick to the old ways and focus entirely on Google are missing out on a lot of search traffic these days if they are not also well ranked by Yahoo and MSN.