Google’s UK Search Share Slips Below 90% For The First Time in Five Years

The term Google as a verb is banished from the Oxford English Dictionary. The Googleplex lies in ruins, a crumbling monument to the sepia-tinged glory days of yore. Somewhere, Larry Page weeps silently. Why? Because Google’s UK search share has dipped below 90% for the first time in five years.

Below 90%! For the first time in five years! What’s going on?!

Reported by the likes of the BBC and The Drum the other day, Experian Hitwise’s monthly study into the percentage of people using a particular search engine found that Google’s share of the market has dropped to 89.33% in October – a frankly ridiculous figure in most markets, but slightly worrying in the search market which Google has dominated for so long.

By contrast, Bing has strode in – all dubstep and pop culture, yeah? – and gobbled up a massive 4.74% of the UK search market. Analysts are keen to point out that Bing is now the default search engine of the newly released Windows 8 and this probably has had some effect, but I prefer to think it’s the ultra-trendy womp-womp beep-beep of youth culture that has catapulted Microsoft towards the stars.

Yahoo! and Ask have done alright for themselves too, as have ‘Other’ search engines including DuckDuckGo, a kind of ‘acoustic version’ of Google without all those nasty privacy issues. On the whole, it seems as though Google has dropped a few crumbs and the hungry search engines below have been than happy to hoover them up.

I was considering putting together a slightly alarmist post claiming that this is the latest in a string of bad news for big G, including that embarrassing early release of those less-than-stellar quarterly results to the big kahunas on Wall Street and those ever-looming legal demons that stalk Google wherever they go.

But, to be frank, the results are most likely a freak and not indicative of any slow decline leading to eventual collapse of the Google empire – maybe.

Or it could the case that Google – with all it’s tinkering and legal issues – are losing favour with some members of the public. A lot of people within the SEO community have been particularly vocal about changes that they perceive to have had a negative rather than positive effect on the search results – things like reducing the amount of organic results on a page from 10 to 7 for certain terms or alleged favouring household names and effectively shutting small fry out in the cold.

Or it could be part of the wider efforts (alright, they aren’t THAT wide) to divorce our once-beloved Google, something I blogged about myself a few months ago. Google just doesn’t seem to be the same chirpy upstart we once knew and loved, taking the same trajectory from fresh-faced dreamers to wallowing in the mire of corporate sleaze as Charlie Sheen’s character in Wall Street.

A quick Google search for ‘google lawsuits’ brings up a worrying number of legal firefights Google has – and still is – engaged in, chief among them a tasty little antitrust case brought by the Federal Trade Commission stating Google has manipulated it’s ‘quality’ search results to favour it’s own products and shut out their competitors. Which seems like the sort of practice a company who lives and dies by the motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’ shouldn’t really be caught up in.

And then there’s that whole privacy thing…

I could go on. Basically, Google has taken a bit of a battering over the past couple of years and maybe – just maybe – the fall in search share below the 90% waterline could be disillusioned customers finally migrating from the first name in search in search of pastures new. Or it could be down to people who bought Windows 8 and haven’t figured out they can still use Google even though Bing is the default search engine.

Probably the latter, now I think about it.

Chris Smith
  • Written by on 9th November 2012 at 14:19
  • “Chris Smith is a copywriter and social media manager at Fluid Creativity.”
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