Google's market share falls below 90% in UK for first time in years; why Bing and Yahoo! are growing in influence

An Experian Hitwise report has revealed that as of October 2012, Google’s share of the UK search market fell to 89.33 per cent, the first time in five years that it has dipped below 90 per cent. As the influence of Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo! increases, it’s important to look at the potential opportunities this presents for marketers.

The primary reason for the fall in Google’s UK search equity is Bing being the default browser choice on the new Windows 8 operating system launched on devices in October, as well as the bespoke version of the search engine featured on Xbox consoles. As sales continue to grow, the proportion of users who don’t actively choose to revert their default browser back to Google are sure to increase. Apple’s recent move to use its own technology to power Apple Maps has also taken away a huge pool of referring traffic and usage from Google’s platform.

There is no doubt that Bing is being both smart and pro-active in its efforts to cream off some of Google’s market share. The devices the software is present on means that a single Bing ad can now give a brand access to over 162 million unique searchers, using Microsoft and Yahoo sites (including Yahoo Search, Bing, and partners), which accounts for 30 per cent of total search engine share and over 6 billion searches a month.

Bid costs and keyword competition on Bing also tend to be considerably lower, meaning that just under one third of the market is accessible for a fraction of current Google ad costs. Utilising the platform is certainly something that companies need to begin factoring into their planning, especially those with a primarily female customer base, as 58 per cent of Bing users are women.

Bing’s activity has certainly caused concern at Google, so much so that the company had a YouTube video designed to bring users back ready and waiting for the launch of Windows 8.

‘Get Your Google Back’ (above) has subsequently had 465,000 views, combining simple imagery and instructions with catchy music to revert users back to its search engine.

The simplicity and impact of the Get My Google back campaign demonstrates the clout and drive of a search giant that refuses to rest on its laurels. However, if Google continues to lose market share, then marketing managers will seriously need to consider how to shape content and strategy that better suits the features and architecture of other leading search engines.

Alex Wares is managing director at search marketing agency Mediarun.

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