I’ve always been optimistic about the intentions of search companies and the possibilities for more competition in the European search market. At the beginning of this year I wrote a post on State of Search named What Bing needs to bring to the table in 2011 Sadly at the end of this year I have to conclude search in Europe has even more become a one company show. Nor Bing, nor any of the other competitors like Yandex, Yahoo!, Blekko or Wolfram Alpha has taken even the smallest slice from Google of the search pie.
The sad thing about Bing in my opinion is that they came with some very interesting search verticals this year. But within their America centered focus they failed to roll most of these out to Europe or anywhere else outside of the US. Together with hardly improving the quality of their core results, as a potential user I’m feeling neglected by Bing and can’t keep waiting any longer. They’ve had their chance and for now I’m closing the chapter (yes, I’m a little angry about it!)
Yandex chose a more slow and steady approach. First they started by improving international search. Secondly they improved their product and adding extra unique functionality, like the taxi search and Yandex.Translate. Then slowly they started rolling out there product to more Eastern European countries, for example by rolling out Yandex video search in Czech search engine Seznam and entering the Turkish search market. And they became the default search engine on Windows Phones and Samsung devices in Russia. Check out Yandex press releases page for more interesting strategic choices they’ve made. Despite all their efforts Yandex isn’t anywhere near a viable alternative for Western European users and even lost a large amount of market share in Russia in the last year, making Google the no.1 search engine in Russia with 60%. And Blekko and Wolfram Alpha are useful search engines but serve only specific purposes.
Edit: These statistics of search engines in Russia are based on Statcounter data. According to a representative from Yandex this data is incorrect. Liveinternet.ru shows Yandex is still (by far) the number one search engine in Russia.
So Europe is still completely Google minded and change isn’t anywhere near. Luckily Google is becoming more than just a search engine. Slowly it’s becoming a bundle of different vertical search engines, including verticals like shopping, places, videos, images, news etc., for all of which you can optimize your results. Within the web search engine Google also offers more ways to optimize your search results with rich snippets, author information, site links etc. So for 2012 instead of keeping an eye on Google’s competitors, if you were at all, keep an eye on the different verticals of Google and spot your opportunities there. And if you’re lucky I might just update my overview of resources on optimizing for each of those verticals anytime soon.