A recent study shows that the proportion of short keywords, that is to say web search queries containing one or two words, has significantly increased from September to October 2011.
Users Go for One and Two-Word Search
According to the search intelligence firm Hitwise, one-word search queries have increased from 26.45% of all US queries in September to 27.23% in October.
Their monthly barometer highlighted that two-word keywords also registered a slight rise from 23.66% to 23.85%.
However, all longer web search queries – from three to eight words – decreased over the same period.
Below is the percentage of US clicks by number of keywords:
The study is based on a sample of 10 million US Internet users.
Why Shorter Keywords?
One may therefore wonder why users type shorter keywords in the search engines.
In my opinion, and as I wrote previously, this progression of short search queries may be linked to « Google Instant Search » and « Google Suggest ».
Indeed, these Google tools had an impact on how users search since they deliver results faster and in larger quantity (results are displayed as users type their search query).
From an SEO point of view, we already emphasized that this change would make titles and meta description important elements in the way those would largely influence user’s willingness to click the search result snippet.
Google Doesn’t Decline in China Only
In addition, the study by Hitwise provides data about search engine market in the US.
Since 2010, Google has been losing market share against Baidu in China. The same trend occurs in the US where Bing has been earning market share little by little. However, Google still largely remains the most used search engine in the US.
According to Hitwise, Google is used for 2 out of 3 search queries in the US but its market share went from 66.12% to 65.38%.
While the number of search queries done on Bing increased from 28.07% to 28.62%, given all queries done on Yahoo portal are powered by Microsoft’s search engine.
Below is the search engine market share in the US (in searches):
Did you change the way you search with Google Instant? Do you now search shorter keywords?
China’s search engine market hit 5.5 billion RMB (approximately 867 million USD) in 2011 Q3, according to online market research firm iResearch.
The search revenue increased by 78% from the same period last year. This dramatic increase is due to a boom in Chinese e-commerce ad spend.
China Search Engine Market size and its evolution (by iChinaStock)
Still according to iResearch data, Baidu now holds nearly 78% market share by revenue of China search engine market while Google’s market share declined from 19% to 18% compared to the previous quarter.
IResearch data comes from search company financial reports and estimates from its own tracking systems.
Below is the full evolution of search engines' market share in China:
|2010 Q1||2010 Q2||2010 Q3||2010 Q4||2011 Q1||2011 Q2||2011 Q3|
From beginning of 2010 when Google decided to redirect Chinese users to its Hong Kong website, Google has lost 11% market share while Baidu has gained 10% over the same period. As we mentioned before, Google’s loss is Baidu’s gain, but not only.
Indeed, other local search engines also benefit from Google’s decline. Sogou, a Chinese search engine powered by Sohu, and Tencent’s Soso have seen their market share increased over the past year.
Other search engines only account for 0.4% of China’s search engine market. Read more about all the search engines in China.
What search engine do you use in China? Baidu, Google or another one? Do you know you can use both Baidu and Google through BaiGoogleDu?
Google will be paying more attention to the ads on websites. The search engine’s goal is to penalize websites that abuse of advertising, said Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, during his keynote session at PubCon in Las Vegas.
Google Penalizes Ad Heavy Pages
Google’s search algorithm will be able to analyze the proportion of ads, as well as their visibility compared to the real content of the page.
Ad heavy websites usually make it difficult for users to find good content on web pages, notably because ads usually obscure content.
Others websites that abuse of advertising also try to fool users in making them believe ads are part of the content, especially affiliated websites that want monetize their website by generating more traffic through sponsored links.
In these both cases, websites may be considered as spam by Google, and see their rankings dramatically decrease.
Above The Fold Ads
Besides, displaying too many ads in the “above the fold” section of your website is also something to avoid in terms of SEO. “Above the fold” is the area of a webpage that can be visible without scrolling.
However, this announcement is a bit odd since Google AdSense advices you to place ads above the fold.
Google Is Not Perfect
Matt Cutts also admitted that Google’s search algorithm still occasionally makes mistakes and unfairly marks a website as spam.
If your website has been marked as spam but you don't agree with this decision, you can report the problem to his team of spam experts.
SEO always evolving
As Matt Cutts noticed, “SEO will always be evolving”. Google strives to deliver a better search experience to users with better, fresher, and more personalized results.
Well, SEO survived Panda update, and will survive Google’s latest search algorithm update that allows users to get fresher results.
Read more about our SEO tips for Google and Baidu.
Google introduces new ad placements on Google search allowing ads to appear below search results.
The search company previously enabled advertisers to promote their ads to the top or side of the search results. Now their ads may appear below them. According to Google, this change will offer users a better experience.
For example, if you search "Kittens", below is how you will see the ads displayed by Google AdWords.
Ads appearing to the side of search results
Ads appearing below search results
As users usually scan the search engine results pages (SERPs) from top to bottom, displaying ads in their visualization flow should perform better. The tests that Google ran were actually successful since ads showing below the search results had a higher click-through rate (CTR) than side ads.
Having better CTRs is good for advertisers AND Google. As more people click the ads, it means more revenue for the search company. Google's advertising revenue account for more than 95% of the firm's overall revenue.
This announcement comes after Google revealed a new feature allowing users to understand why they see these ads, as well as after Google recently announced a major update in its search algorithm giving fresher results.
Google is going to make a major update to its search algorithm that will bring fresher search results in order to improve user relevancy. 35% of search results should be affected by this change.
Google’s Algorithm Updates
Every year, Google operates more than 400 modifications on its search algorithm in order to improve quality of search results. The latest major update, named Google Panda, dates back to the beginning of this year in the US.
The goal was to penalize content farms that is to say websites that generate plenty of low-quality pages to appear in the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in order to attract visitors. Another consequence of this change was the decrease in terms of visibility of major consumer reviews sites, and price comparison websites.
What is Fresh Content for Google?
The new update does not concern quality of pages, but their freshness. When you look for popular events or topical issues, Google will make recent pages rank higher in the SERPs. For instance, if you search “presidential elections”, Google will display more information about incoming elections rather than older results.
In addition, when you type “Beijing Guoan CSL”, the most up-to-date results of the soccer team will appear in good positions. However, rankings for classic and never-changing websites about cuisine recipes and DIY tips should not be very affected.
The challenge for the search engine company is actually to determine how old a page could be compared to the user query. Some pages could be outdated after a few hours, while others could still be up-to-date and relevant for users after a few months or years.
Why Does Google Now Like Fresh Content?
Google has been taking into account content freshness since 2007. Caffeine update that happened last year enables the search engine to crawl and index the web for fresh content quicker and on a massive scale.
Google's freshness update will be applied on twice more queries (35%), so that should have a large impact on rankings. However, it does not mean that 35% of all keywords will be affected, it concerns 35% of queries volume (some keywords concentrate far much more queries).
Because of social networks and their instantaneousness patterns, Google has to provide users with extremely recent content, that is why that the search engine will sometimes show up-to-date articles rather than reference articles.
Overall, this algorithm update also mean more work for SEO experts to monitor changes in rankings...
Bing introduces new action buttons
Now Bing displays buttons for top actions on websites, so you can directly access the page and complete the task you look for.
Bing analyzes users' behavior, that is to say it determines how people search, and especially, what they want to do on the websites they visit.
For instance, if you search “american airlines”, you will see 3 buttons on the right of your search results as shown below:
“Check-in”, “Flight status” and “Book a flight” are thus the three actions displayed by Bing.
Note that Bing also offers an inserted form result to search flights.
Action buttons vs. deep links
Search engines also use deep links to help users easily find what they look for. Deep links are displayed below search result and allow users to directly access popular pages within a given site without having to go through homepage.
In our previous example, deep links include “Log in”, “Book travel”, “AAdvantage”, etc.
In some cases, action buttons and deep links are the same. In others, actions buttons are completely new links.
While deep links refer more to other pages, action buttons are really about tasks users want to accomplish.
Moreover, contrary to little deep links, action buttons may be more appealing for users. The size of buttons, as well as their position, makes them easier for users to notice and click.
Bing to introduce more options
Action buttons only concern 7 searched categories for the moment: airlines, banks, couriers, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, and software download.
Here are a few examples:
For example if I look for “Bank of America”, I have the possibility to click on “Login” button.
For Fedex (Courier), Bing offers me the possibility to look at their locations or contact them.
If I search “Hyatt”, I have the ability to access their locations.
For “Joe’s crab shack” restaurant, you can directly have a look at the menu or the location.
- Rental cars
If you look for “Avis”, Bing suggests you 3 choices : “Rent a car”, “Locations”, and “Contact us”.
- Software download
Last example, f I want to download software, such as VLC, I can directly access the “Download” page.
We will undoubtedly see more actions to come. For example, for hotels, I am sure tasks such as “book a night” will be available in the future. For searches related to restaurants, it would be great to see “book a table” too.
Bing does not have a choice
After teaming up with Yahoo! on search, Bing is doomed to innovate if it wants to compete with Google. Bing has been making a lot of progress these past few years in order to enhance search results, and I think those buttons are really an interesting move.
Even if there is still a lot to do in other categories and other countries (action buttons are only available in the US for now), it clearly highlights Bing’s willingness to improve user’s experience by providing users with what they look for as simply and quickly as possible.
During its annual Technology Innovation Conference 2011 in Beijing, Baidu - China’s largest search company - announced a few new products including a new mobile software platform, as well as a new homepage with modules.
Baidu’s revamped homepage
Baidu launched last week a new homepage with added modules. The revamped homepage called “yihao zhida” (it means Number 1 Direct Access in Chinese) is only accessible for logged-in users.
Customization is the key feature of this new homepage. Indeed, users can personalize their Baidu homepage by adding several new modules: navigation, search trends, applications and feeds.
- In the “navigation” module, users can bookmark their favorite websites and get notifications of Baidu partner web services including Sina Weibo and Renren.
- The “search trends” section, as its name suggests, shows the most searched keywords on Baidu.
- The “applications” area allows users to download applications from Baidu Apps Open Platform (nearly 20,000 applications currently available), and display them in their Baidu homepage. Most popular apps include Douban music player, PPTV video player, and Microsoft Bing Dictionary.
- The “feeds” section will display new content like status updates, posted on 3rd-party social networking websites. For instance, users will be able to see updates from Baidu’s social networking services, notably its information sharing service Baidu Tieba and its blogging service Baidu Space.
Baidu’s new homepage hurting search volume?
According to Baidu’s CEO Robin Li, the redesigned homepage may hurt the search engine’s traffic volume as some of the one-click-to-use modules save users the hassles of searching on Baidu. And, as you know, less search traffic volume means less revenue for Baidu...
Being aware of the possible negative impact on revenue, Robin Li explained Baidu has not to worry since this new homepage will result in increasing customer satisfaction. Even if search traffic volume (and therefore revenue) is affected in the short term, Baidu will benefit from it in the future since improving customer satisfaction will lead to more visits (and more search volume), and therefore higher revenue.
By enabling external applications and websites to be displayed on Baidu homepage, the Chinese search engine differentiates from the very basic style similar to its US rival Google.
What do you think about Baidu’s redesigned homepage?
Baidu uses Android to grow
The Baidu software platform will be preinstalled on compatible mobile phones and allow users to directly access Baidu services, such as the “click & search” feature: while reading an e-book on a smartphone, a user can click on a word in the book to perform a Baidu web search for it.
Baidu announced that the platform will be available on Android mobile phones first, but it is expected to be compatible with other OS in the future too. What happened to Symbian ? Last year, Baidu and Symbian teamed up on mobile box computing but Baidu appears to see more potential into Android.
Baidu’s strategy consists of expanding its mobile service offerings as well as trying to attract more customers, especially Android phone users.
What is interesting here is that Baidu is trying to take advantage of Android's popularity. It is actually a way to compete more fiercely with Google while using its competitor's mobile OS.
Of course, this platform can be seen as a first step before Baidu releases its own mobile OS. Baidu never hid its intentions to develop its own mobile OS to compete with Android.
The release date of Baidu Yi was not publicly announced, nor the names of devices on which the platform will be pre-installed.
Baidu leads China’s search market
According to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, Baidu has a 75.9% share of revenue in China's online-search market in Q2 2011 while Google’s share is 18.9%. In Q1, Baidu had 75.8% of the market and Google 19.2%.
Given the huge size of the market (more than 485 million Internet users in China as of June 2011), many search companies strives to get a slice of the cake.
In addition to Baidu and Google (and Baigoogledu that enables users to perform a web search on both search engines), other major competitors include Sogou, Soso and Bing (see the list of main search engines in China).
According to the partnership between the two companies, Bing will provide English search results for Baidu.
The terms of the agreement between Baidu and Bing were not disclosed. However, the cooperation will likely work similarly to the Bing-Yahoo agreement signed last year where both companies share the revenues from search engine ads.
Most Chinese Internet users agree to say that Google’s English-language search results are currently more accurate than Baidu. Yet, Baidu service will likely be improved by the partnership with Microsoft.
More than 10 million search queries (in English) are made on Baidu every day, most of them coming from professionals and students. However, this number is not so high compared to the 477 million users claimed by Baidu.
Baidu and Bing will help each other
It has actually been more than a year that Microsoft has searched a search engine partner in China.
Baidu seems the best choice as it is the uncontested search engine leader in China (see search engine market share in China).
Since Google decided to redirect its mainland users to Google Hong Kong, Microsoft has been trying to develop Bing’s market share in China. Until now, one cannot say that it was very successful since Google still detains 11% of market share and Bing only 1%.
Due to the size of China’s Internet market (more than 485 million Chinese netizens in June 2011 according to CNNIC), every search engine strives to get a slice of the cake. In addition to Baidu, Google and Bing, main competitors include Soso and Sogou.
At the same time, the Baidu-Bing deal is also a good opportunity for Baidu to team up with a multinational company that can help it in an international development. Indeed, the Chinese firm has never hidden its willingness to expand abroad.
Baidu plans to go abroad
According to Baidu CEO Robin Li, the company should grab the opportunity offered by the international market. However, he didn’t mention which countries the company was interested in. Baidu already operates a search engine in Japan.
Despite competition, Baidu still leads China’s search market
Baidu wants to become more than a search company
Baidu is developing several other projects for the mobile market. According to Robin Li, the company is preparing a "revolutionary" product. That should be a mobile OS to compete with Google's Android.
Other sources say that Baidu is also developing its own browser.