There is no doubt that Google is still the whale in the search engine pond sending 17 times the amount of traffic than the next four combined. But a couple of things are happening that may be softening Google’s edge a bit.
First the pond is getting smaller. Searcholic reports that from December 2013 to May of 2014 the top five US search engines experienced a 17% – 32% drop in traffic. Searcholic attributes this drop to a maturing of search and the soaring growth rate of social media referrals.
There is another more subtle shift that was uncovered in the report. It appears that visitors from Ask, Bing and Yahoo are more engaged than those sent via Google. Ask, Bing and Yahoo traffic all spent more time on the site, visited more pages and had lower bounce rates than Google. Does this mean that Google visitors are less valuable? Not necessarily. Perhaps the type of visitors coming from the other search engines are coming in with different expectations.
In a recent WebMasterWorld.com SEO News and Discussion Forum one participant (webcentric) posited, “Bing and Yahoo send visitors to more general pages (like a category page) where Google sends people to more targeted pages (items in a specific category). Perhaps it’s the direct approach of Google (sending people to exactly what they want) that prevents further investigation of the site whereas Bing and Yahoo are sending people searching for a broader range of subject matter.”
So what does this mean for SEO? Google is still the big dog and demands our attention. However, optimizing for social media is critical given its continued significant growth. And, it is important to optimize for the other search engines as well. They may not send you the most traffic, but the visitors they do send your way are very engaged.