The Four Search Engines to be Listed in and Why

I frequently get asked by customers: Which are the top three or four engines, the ones in whose search results I really want my company to appear? Of course, Yahoo comes to mind. And these days, a lot of people think Google’s up there. But you’d be surprised what research shows.

AltaVista reaches 17.7 percent of web users, but Google gets just 7 percent, according to the latest Media Metrix numbers. So what’s the big deal with Google? Well, it supports Yahoo Web Pages results, and Yahoo gets over 50 percent of the search traffic.

Ask Jeeves and Google sell advertisers related but separate links on their search results pages so users can discern which links are paid for. I myself have a problem clicking on a link that paid to get my attention. However, this strategy appears to be very popular with advertisers. (Speaking of paid placements, GoTo has retained NameLab to help find a new moniker. The process could be completed by the middle of next year.)

LookSmart and Inktomi charge web sites a fee to be included in their indexes with no guarantee of where the sites will be ranked within search returns. I like the no-guarantee clause. It puts the responsibility of presenting the best content into the hands of paid editors who are building good content for their directories.

The top four engines you want to ensure you’re listed in are Yahoo, AltaVista, Excite, and LookSmart. Here’s why:

  • Media Metrix’s ratings show Yahoo’s audience reach is 69.1 percent. Audience reach is a measure of how many surfers visit a search engine during a month.

  • Yahoo’s web properties were visited by more than half of the active Internet users in eight countries as measured by Nielsen//NetRatings in June, making it the leading global property. The company’s first international report on web use showed Yahoo drew 67.8 million visitors in June.
  • AltaVista gets 50 million searches per day.
  • StatMarket ratings show what percentage of all search engine-related traffic came from each of the search engines through the hundreds of thousands of sites using HitBox counters. The top three are Yahoo with 53.4% of the traffic, AltaVista with 18%, and Excite with 6.7%. This totals 78.1% of all search engine traffic.
  • LookSmart has two million links. It powers the main results at MSN, AltaVista, Excite, and iWon. LookSmart’s search service network reaches more than 52 million people a month, the equivalent of 74 percent of all Internet users in the U.S.
  • Excite offers a smart, practical way to further focus a search by giving users a lot more than just a search engine. It offers everything from news headlines and a fast-loading personalized start page to directory-style content organization and chat. This is a nearly irresistible engine for casual searchers and web newbies.

Sure, you want searchers to find you wherever they go. But focusing on getting listed in these four will help you gain the greatest exposure.

In future articles, I’ll cover how important search is to creating strong customer care and improving e-commerce, e-support, and e-business as a whole. The theme behind these articles will be not only sharing information and educating readers on where the traffic is but also getting that traffic to your site.

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