At some point or another we have all heard the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Until very recently site owners, webmasters, SEO’s, and pretty much anyone who had anything to do with the Internet was concerned with marketing on one property: Google.

This made a lot of sense. Google sold it’s results to many engines including Yahoo which meant that it provided the results for about 80% of all worldwide searches. While putting all one’s eggs in one basket may not be exceptionally wise, this basket was so large, and so rich, that there didn’t seem to be much choice. Constantly we at StepForth would get calls from people wanting to know how to get their rankings higher on Google, with little or no concern for the “other engines”.

But today things are different. Yahoo now shows it’s own results as opposed to Google’s. MSN now gets its results from Inktomi (ironically, Inktomi is owned by Yahoo). Google’s popularity, as far as % of searches performed on its database, has significantly declined.

The latest Nielson NetRatings (January 2004) show that while Google is still in the lead, it is no longer the dominating power that it once was. Google is currently the search engine destination for 39.4% of all searchers with Yahoo coming in second with 30.4% and MSN at 29.6%. In fact, if we consider that Yahoo owns Inktomi and that MSN draws its results from Inktomi, Yahoo is now the strongest force in the search world.

What is important to conclude from this is that, while Google is still a highly relevant and important factor in optimizing your website, it is no longer the end-all-be-all. There are now 3 major players. Of these three the trends seem to show that Google will further decline, Yahoo will continue to grow it’s properties and influence, and MSN will be launching its own search engine in the next year-or-so, which will further shake things up as Microsoft makes a major play on the search engine market.

For those of you who have until recently, been concerned only with Google, it’s time to move some of your eggs before the basket shrinks too much and your eggs hit the floor.