When someone mentions search engine optimization (SEO), what’s the first thing you think about? Chances are good that if you’re like most people, it’s Google — or rather, its parent company, Alphabet. That’s not surprising.
While Google certainly didn’t invent the search engine market, it has, for more than a decade, defined it. Half of SEO amounts to trying to figure out what Google’s algorithms are doing, and what sort of content they want. Other search engines rarely, if ever, even enter into the equation.
And if they do, they’re almost always playing second string to Google.
Will this always be the case, though? Today, we take the search giant’s dominance as a given. As history has shown us, however, dominance can vanish almost overnight.
BlackBerry. Toys R Us. Blockbuster. Staples. Compaq. These were once household names. And while most of them are still operational, they operate in a smaller niche than anyone could have imagined in their heyday.
According to research collected by statistics aggregator Statista, Google’s share of the search engine market has been on a steady decline for the past several years. It has, since April 2016, dropped from 63.8 percent … to 62 percent. Alright, admittedly, that’s not much of a decline.
That said, Microsoft’s share of the search engine has been climbing both consistently and significantly. Since 2012, the percentage of total search queries handled by Microsoft increased from 15.4 percent to 25.9 percent. Taken in tandem, these two statistics appear to suggest that Google’s position at the top of the search market may well be in jeopardy.
At the same time, looking at the data in its entirety paints a very different picture. Since 2008, Google has always hovered around the 60 percent mark. Although Microsoft’s climbing market share could, in the future, result in a shift, at the current juncture it’s still business as usual.
And ultimately, it doesn’t really matter anyway. At the end of the day, all search engines ultimately have the same goal. Through their algorithms, they want to provide their audience with the most relevant, insightful, and valuable content possible. There are a limited number of ways in which one can do that.
They all boil down to intent. Understanding precisely what a user is looking for and providing that to them. This has always been the end goal of search engines (aside from generating advertising revenue, obviously).
That isn’t to say you should ignore Google’s algorithmic updates, nor that you shouldn’t endeavor to understand the search engine. You still should. But at the same time, your focus should be on understanding your audience and using that understanding to create the best content and the most compelling brand image possible.
Do that, and everything else should follow.