The Global Search Universe

Tue 11 November 2008 09:16, Eduard Blacquière

The Global Search Universe

For, the Search Marketing Blog focussed on Europe, the "The Global Search Universe" session couldn't be skipped at SMX London last week.

Large international potential
Andy Atkins-Kruger started off with some figures illustrating the large international potential online. For instance the online population in Europe tops the US by 140 million. In Asia there are 2.5 times more people online than in the US. And the online population in the Middle-East and Africa grows at a rate over 1000%.

Most popular (internet) countries
Andy names a couple of interesting figures, starting with de most popular languages on the internet:

English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French and German. Within the top 10 most popular online languages you'll also find Arabic, a language you wouldn't consider to be on the list.

If we look at the most popular countries in Europe, measured in terms of unique users per country, the list wil be as follows:

Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia, Spain and the Netherlands. Remarkable in this list are countries like Russia and the Netherlands.

The Global Search Universe
Andy Atkins-Kruger notes that Google's revenue from the US is almost flat looking at the past couple of quarters. That means that growth for Google lays outside the US.

He shows a neat slide with some persona's representing different (groups of) search engines. Not surprisingly Google is the most dominant search engine worldwide.


But Baidu, the largest search engine in China, is already the world's second largest search engine. An interesting detail is that Baidu mixes up the paid listings with the organic search results. Therefore it could be that the first organic search result is listed on the second search engine result page (SERP).

How to do global search marketing?
Andy Atkins-Kruger finished his presentation with 3 important strategies he thinks are needed tu succeed in international search marketing:

1) Global PR
2) Search Advertising
3) Multilingual SEO

What does the data tell? Hitwise knows
Next up was Robin Goad, director of research at internet measurement company Hitwise in the UK. Hitwise data is gathered through ISP's (Internet Service Providers) which gives them a sample of several million users.

Hitwise data also shows us that Google is by far the most popular search engine in Europe. But he notes that other search engines like Microsoft are leading in fields like email or chat services.

How important are search engines?
Robin Goad continued with some upstream traffic data which shows that an average UK site receives between 25% and 35% of its traffic from search engines.

The share of traffic from search engines is increasing over the last couple of years. It's interesting to know that US web sites are less reliable on search engine traffic than UK sites. The explaination can be found in the larger adoption of social networks in the VS, driving an increasing share of traffic to US sites.

Navigational searches and The Long Tail
Robin Goad also shows the trend that the amount of navigational searches is increasing. In the UK the navigational search queries as a share of the top 2000 searches have increased to 88% in the last 4 years.

The growth within the navigational searches is driven by an increasing use of brand terms. For me this indicates that there's a growing correlation between offline & online media and searcher behavior.


Besides the brand keywords people tend to use less generic terms to query a search engine. People seem to learn that a specific search term returns a better saech result than using a generic keyword. In other words people are more and more searching in Chris Anderson's "Long Tail" terms

Most popular search terms
An interesting trend to watch is that the most popular search terms are names of social networks. In the US 'mysace' is the most searched for term while 'facebook' holds this top spot in the UK, indicating the different leading social networks in those countries.

Hitwise also analyzed the top 20 most searched for paid search terms, filtering out the clicks on organic search results. In both the US and UK as well in Australia the most popular paid search term is 'ebay'.

It's interesting to note that among the most popular paid search terms there are names of online shops. For me this indicates that transactional searches tend to end up more with paid listings than organic search results.

Different market, different approach
Robin Goad names an interesting detail that the search volume for online clothing stores is decreasing in the US but is increasing in the UK. This also goed for online retail shops in general, which teaches us that every (search) market is different and therefore should be approached differently.

Another nice detail is, according to Hitwise, that Google Image Search is a bigger search engine than both Yahoo and Live Search in the UK.

From all UK internet visits 2.5% ends up at video sites with YouTube receiving the largest share of search traffic. An interesting trend is that search engines are rapidly surpassing social networks as the largest driver of traffic to video sites.


My conclusion is that Blended/Universal Search is the main driver for this trend, where among different types of content video's are blended into the regular search results.

Note that the breaking point in the graphic above is around may 2007. Let that be the date Google launched Universal Search...!

This "The Global Search Universe" session teaches us that every geographic market is different. Therefore when doing global search marketing we should approach every market differently according to local search behavior and trends.

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