Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's Still About the Search: ComScore Shows Growing U.S. Gains for Google

ComScore's November '05 search engine rankings are in, indicating a growing lead for Google amongst major search providers. Year-on-year the November totals show Google growing by 5.2 percent while Yahoo's search function dropped by 2.5 percent. The only other gainer amongst majors was AskJeeves, which posted a 1 percent gain. Overall Americans conducted 5.15 billion searches online during November 2005, up 9 percent from November 2004. General search remains a powerful magnet for content, with Google becoming increasingly the brand name that is synonymous with it. This may accelerate the push towards more focused vertical search solutions and more use of user-generated indexing as ways of organizing content effectively based on users' interests: "Everyone knows what general search looks like, now what do we do?" may be the question being asked by many - including Google, with its increasingly popular Local search and other specialized searches for journals, books, weblogs, video and other sources.

It also means that general aggregators will continue to position their search services increasingly for specific verticals, as with the recent repositioning of Dialog's services for scientific and business intelligence audiences and Factiva's focus on sales integration. We may not see these trends in the general stats, but it's likely that we'll see a continuing general growth in search with increasing growth in Google that doesn't quite match up to the general growth - with focused search and indexing solutions filling the gaps, detected or otherwise. The key to this growth, though, is not "vertical search" per se. Just putting a filter on the same technology is far from the answer. Instead focused search is about getting the focus on the needs of specific audiences and the unique characteristics of specific content types. In other words we've been doing "vertical search" all along in the content industry - and the media is just catching up.
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