Web search is one of the most common tasks undertaken on the internet today and Google.com remains the king. However, Mozilla recently announced they would be choosing Yahoo as the default search provider for users of Firefox 34. On the surface it would seem that Yahoo beat Google and Bing for the default slot, but Yahoo and Microsoft are still in a deal where Yahoo search results are provided by Bing. The agreement between Microsoft and Yahoo makes the search engine market share slightly confusing.
Even though a search occurs on Yahoo.com it will be passed to the Bing servers for results, then those results will be passed to Yahoo to display on their search results page. The only difference to a Yahoo.com searcher would be the words powered by Bing at the bottom of the page. Mozilla’s decision to choose Yahoo as the default provider means they essentially chose Bing results in Yahoo’s result page.
Now that Yahoo is the default there has been a spike in searches going to Yahoo and a drop in Google’s searches when using Firefox 34. Data from StatCounter.com shows that 9.64% of Firefox 33 users searched with Yahoo, and when using Firefox 34 that number jumped to 29.40%. Almost all of the gains made by Yahoo can be attributed to a loss in Google’s search share. This jump in volume also means that Bing is getting more data to have better results for Yahoo and Bing users.
The only loser here is Google who has been slowly loosing search share for years, and according to StatCounter Google’s share of web searches is at its lowest point since StatCounter has been keeping track. This is a big issue for Google who still makes the vast majority of their money from ads on Google.com. Yahoo and Microsoft have been subsidizing their search business with other revenue streams and relying more on portals like MSN. Search remains very important for most regular internet users, and it will be interesting to see if these trends of a more equally split search share continue.