Now that MSN has dropped Yahoo in favor of it’s own search engine and AOL has made major changes to it’s search engine, there’s no doubt competition for search is heating up again. While Google still sends the vast majority of referring search engine traffic to most sites, make note of these recent search engine changes as there are an increasing number of opportunities to diversify your search marketing portfolio.
To get an idea of where search results data comes from with each search engine, take a look at these search engine relationship charts:
Bruce Clay – Pretty much started the whole search engine relationship charting thing
Search This – Search engine decoder
SearchEngineWatch – A tabular version with no Flash, but effective
Google is still the top search engine, but recent reports show Yahoo and MSN gaining. Ask Jeeves is definitely in a much better position now than it was a year ago and AOL is making it’s move.
Pay attention to your web site referrer logs for search engines and watch for fluctuations in traffic. You may need to make adjustments in your site optimization or even resubmit in some cases. While basic optimization works well for all major search engines, more competitive terms may require some re-working. It may be we are back to the time of optimizing for specific search engines in some cases, but not just yet.
On-page optimization has its place but the effect of link popularity could be even more important. Depending on how web site owners implement (or not) the new nofollow tag which is now supported by the major search engines (sans Ask Jeeves) and blog software, automated link building will change. Link building through articles, press releases and content syndication (RSS) will become a more effective method.
Keep paying attention to Google, but get over your PageRank score and start watching your search engine referring traffic. Monitor search engine relationships to better understand where search data comes from. Make adjustments accordingly and start looking into alternative linking strategies. Diversify your search engine marketing efforts beyond Google and you may be better prepared for the inevitable changes in 2005.