For years, the major search engines have been building membership lists by offering a diverse range of services to registered users. Yahoo and MSN, for instance, have offered email accounts to registered users for several years. The major search engines are working to brand user experiences on as many levels as possible and claim memberships as indicators of user loyalty.
The membership race heated up dramatically over the past two years with the introduction of Google’s wide array of membership driven services.
A study released yesterday by Boston based marketing firm Compete shows that search engine users are a fickle bunch but if being part of a branded club is a measure of loyalty, Google has again beaten its competitors.
The study, Searching for Loyalty, examines the search habits of people who have declared themselves “loyal” to one brand or another. Every user tends to start their search with their preferred search engine. Compete’s study shows how many searchers ventured beyond their search engine of choice and how many used one brand exclusively over others.
Google, by far and away, gets the most loyalty from its users. Predictably, Yahoo and MSN follow in second and third respectively but there are many surprises to be found moving down the list.
- Google: 71.0%
- Yahoo: 48.1%
- MSN: 27.8%
- Excite: 23.4%
- AOL: 23.2%
- Ask: 21.6%
- AltaVista: 16.6%
- Clusty: 10.3%
- A9: 6.4%
- Lycos: 5.8%
The results of the study give a good indication of how reliable search engine users find the search engines they use. It doesn’t necessarily show which engine is better or more relevant but it does show that even the mighty Google has a user-bleed rate.
The study also shows that there is often a pattern to where search engine users go when moving from one engine to another. Knowing how and where search users are likely to migrate can help SEOs and SEMs better serve their clients by strategically concentrating on the interconnections between the search engines and user habits. Repetition is the key to remembrance and helping searchers remember the name of our clients is most certainly a goal.