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Focus your SEO Efforts on Google

I’m sure that you’ve seen companies advertise services where they’ll “submit your website to thousands of search engines and directories” for $5. (Ok, I’m being facetious about that price, but you know what I mean)

The problem with this practice is that it’s not necessary. First, you must be careful about which sites you actually get listed on because not all sites are valueable – some could actually hurt your ranking if it has a very low quality, “spammy” reputation. Second, most search engines have very little traffic compared to the big boys. Even the the big boys now have very little traffic compared to THE biggest boy of them all; Google.

Hitwise today announced some startling statistics about the top 3 search engines. We all know how popular Google is, but just how popular needs to be a focus when you’re marketing online. It was my understanding that Google had somewhere between 65-70% market share and everyone else (Yahoo and MSN included) split the remander. Well, the Hitwise report today has now confirmed that Google is up to 72% and Yahoo Search and MSN receive 17.8% and 5.44 percent, respectively. All other search engines fall below that. Wow.

What this clearly confirms is that all efforts should be focused on Google. I’ve seen by experience too that most of the time if you can rank well in Google, you’ll rank similarly in the other two top search engines.

Another point to note is that Google also commands a strong lead in user retention. According to Nielsen Google sees 79% of its users return, followed by Yahoo! at 69%, and MSN/Windows Live with 65%.

It should also be noted that even though people use other search engines, many people use multiple search engines while performing a search. So,  even if they don’t start with Google, they may end up there. In the big three, 84% of the MSN users went to either Google or Yahoo! or both as well as their usual MSN/Windows Live. 78% of Yahoo! and 63% of Google visitors went to the other engines as well.

Now, it should be noted that we’re talking about SEO here. It’s possible to rank well on all search engines by focusing on Google and letting everything else fall in line. But, if you’re running a PPC campaign, don’t neglect other opportunities with Yahoo and MSN – and possibly in other niche areas. If know you need to be somewhere, then make sure you’re there with a PPC campaign because it’s possible to leave traffic on the table. Most of the time it’s far less expensive to get targeted traffic on these other search engines too, so why not?

Google is a classic 800 pound gorilla. There have been rumblings for years about people getting all up in arms about Google’s reach and power. But in my opinion they’re popular because they do what they do very well and it’s deserving. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens over the next 5 years because just when you think Google is maxed out, they grow their reach further. This is an excellent reason to focus your efforts on Google, and, if anyone ever offers to “mass submit” your site, just thank them and feel confident that you just saved yourself some cash. You’ll can confidently invest that money into getting positioned properly on Google and having a good presence on the next 2-3 little guys.

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Chris Auman is a veteran Internet marketer, website developer, and designer with over 20 years of experience in the trenches. As President and Senior Strategist at Sanctuary, Chris has successfully guided the online marketing efforts for companies large and small. Chris’ clients range from family owned & operated retail operations with a local footprint of 1-10 stores to multinational Fortune 500 companies.

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