Is Google’s Domination Of The UK Search Engine Market Faltering?

If you think of the term ‘search engine’, then the first name that will probably spring to mind is Google.

It’s a perfectly natural assumption to draw as Google is unquestionably the biggest search engine globally, having dominated the world of search for years. In marketing terms it can truly claim to be a giant and an industry leader. However, research from Experian Hitwise, a respected firm that monitors web traffic, would suggest that there are signs that the search giant might be losing its grip on the market – in the UK at least. The research shows that Google’s share of the search market has dropped to its lowest percentage of the UK market share in five years. So, is Google’s dominance of the UK search market on the wane? Is the UK beginning to fall out of love with the search giant?

October figures released by Experian Hitwise discovered that 89.33 percent of all web searches in the UK were made using Google.

Microsoft’s Bing claimed 5% of the market share, whilst Yahoo trailed in in a distant third place. It’s unquestionable that Microsoft is making some headway in the search market, but it’s only fair to point out that Microsoft’s recently launched Windows 8 operating system has Bing installed by default rather than Google. So it’s possible that this fact alone could be skewing the market. Analyst Luca Paderni, from Forrester Research, never the less remains unconvinced that the influence of Google has started to decline. Speaking to the BBC he commented:

“In the UK, Bing has been using very aggressive tactics of promotion for last few months, in preparation for the Christmas season. But Google is still dominant, and we would need to see a trend over more months to call it a consistent decline.”

However there is precedent here. In other parts of the world Google’s dominance of the market has been successfully challenged.

Although it remains the market leader globally, alternative search engines have managed to get ahead of it in their home markets. In China, Baidu is number one, and in Russia, the leader is Yandex, with Google in second place. However, Luca Paderni believes that in Europe, Google’s competitors would need to concentrate on services other than general purpose search to improve their chances of rivalling the search giant, arguing, “there’s increasingly more space for search services specialising in specific industries or topics.”

Hitwise confirmed to the BBC that it had used data from various internet service providers in the UK to track the search habits of more than eight million people. The company’s digital insight manager told the news organisation:

“Web users are demanding more of the engines they interact with every day. The search engines that remain reliable, relevant and useful will be the ones that profit in the future.”

So are we really falling out of love with Google here in the UK? The answer is probably not. Yes marketers are perhaps getting a little tired of the constant stream of algorithm changes and the moving of the goal posts, but by and large the search engine remains a firm favourite with the public. When was the last time you heard anyone looking for answers say, ‘I’ll look it up on a search engine? The chances are the majority of us would say ‘Google it’. It’s now an indelible part of the English language, so the chances of its influence waning is probably slim to none.

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