Rapid Reshuffling in the Search Engine World

searchenginesWhile Google holds an astonishing share of the global search engine market (between 65% and 70% at any given time), that doesn’t mean it has a complete hold. In just a few days, there have been several indications of shakeups in the search engine world, involving both major players and some new challengers.

Google Booted off AOL
Google will no longer be the default search engine for AOL, ending a longtime partnership between the two companies. AOL was recently acquired by Verizon in a $4.4 billion deal.

Instead, AOL users will be switched to Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Bing controls about 20% of the search engine market, and is growing (Google and Yahoo!, the third-largest player in the market, are both in slight decline).

The new arrangement follows Mozilla Firefox’s decision to use Yahoo! search results, instead of Google’s.

Yahoo! Testing Google Results
It appears, however, that Yahoo! is experimenting with using search results from Google.

Until April, Yahoo! was required to get all its desktop search results from Bing. But under a newly renegotiated contract, the search engine only needs to have 51% of its results and desktop ads supplied by Bing. It’s not known whether Yahoo! and Google have entered into a non-exclusive contract or whether testing is a precursor to such a deal.

The company has been relatively tight-lipped about the status of any agreement, telling Search Engine Land July 1 only that “As we work to create the absolute best experiences for Yahoo! users, from time to time, we run small tests with a variety of partners including search providers. There is nothing further to share at this time.”

A New Player: Storm
British startup Storm, which brands itself as “the ethical search engine,” has also drawn attention in the past few days for its announcement that it will be giving half its revenue to charity.

Storm does not collect any data on its users, instead making revenue by getting very small amounts of commission on purchases its users make on certain websites. It is, in effect, branding itself as the anti-Google.

“I think there are large numbers of people who are a little bit tired of being dictated to, and that dictation is coming from Silicon Valley,” Kevin Taylor, Storm’s chief executive, told V3 July 2. “People are fearful of how invasive these companies have become. There’s an awful lot of very clever manipulation of people’s personal and private information.”

The new search engine is hoping to reach 10 million users by 2017 and raise about 200 million pounds (over $312 million) per year for nonprofit organizations.

Of course, Storm is unlikely to challenge Google — or even Bing or Yahoo! — any time soon. Pennsylvania-based search engine DuckDuckGo, which has a similar stated mission of protecting searchers’ privacy, just reached 10 million daily queries in late June and still accounts for less than 1% of the market.

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