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April 10, 2009

SMX Sydney : The Australian Searchscape

Coverage of the Day 2 Keynote by Bill Tancer GM Global Research from Hitwise at SMX Sydney 2009.

Bill is the author of the book Click which is about people’s behavior patterns online. Bill starts by asking the audience a range of questions about the search market. The audience guesses correctly that in Australia, Google has the majority market share. Hitwise data is drawn from 25 million internet users worldwide. Search market stats for 2009 show:

  • In the US, 70% of all searches are being executed on Google, then Yahoo 16%
  • In Australia, 90% of searches are being executed on Google, then MSNLive
  • In New Zealand, 92% of all searches are being executied on Google, then Yahoo

In March 2008, Google’s market share in the US was 67%. In March 2009, it was 73%. In March 2008, Google’s market share in Australia was 88%. In March 2009, it was 90%. In March 2008, Google’s market share in New Zealand was 90%. In March 2009, it was 92%.  So much for Bill’s prediction last year of Google reaching their market saturation point!

In the US in 2009, 14.9% of people used 4 words per search query, while 8.7% used 5 words per search query. This is a marked increase in long tail search query usage over 2008.

Search term length in Australia is different. Of the top 10,000 queries, the search term length is actually lowering. Bill thinks this is because people are searching for short terms like Facebook, YouTube and other brand related terms. When comparing search query success rate and query length, it shows that there is some dissatisfaction amongst Australian searchers with their SERPS.

Top Search Terms by Market


1) Facebook

2) eBay

3) YouTube

4) MySpace

5) BOM

New Zealand

1) Bebo

2) Trademe

3) Facebook

4) YouTube

5) Trade me

United States

1) Craigslist

2) MySpace

3) Facebook

4) eBay

5) YouTube

There is so much search data available to us and it’s very powerful information to help your business.

Adult Entertainment and Cognitive Dissonance

PPC = Porn, P and Casinos

Australia is more porn free than the US based on share of visits, says Bill. Adult vs. social sites trends are different in the US and Australia [I find this quite surprising!]

Power of Observed Behavior

– Marketers often rely on gut instinct or research influenced by cognitive dissonance.

– Observed behaviour often provides a more realistic view of what we do

– Search term data is a valuable proxy for timing consumer interest

Just for fun, Bill takes us through the top “Fear Of” queries.

What Are You Afraid Of?

  • Traditional survey research around phobias differ from online observed behavior
  • Social fears show prominently in online behaviour
  • Long-tail fear searches reveal some bizarre fears unlikely to surface via traditional research methods

Top fear in Australia based on the stats is a fear of crowds.  Not so in the US. Other common fears included things like:

– fear of flying

– fear of heights

– fear of long words [huh?]

– fear of clowns [understandable]

– fear of the dark

– fear of spiders

– fear of sex [what?]

– fear of commitment

– fear of success

AND… (wait for it)

– fear of being followed by a duck. True!

Predictions for Next 12 Months

Bill thinks that over the next year:

– Words/queries will continue to increase

– Search success rate will continue to degrade

– Long-tail searches will continue to grow as the amount of content on Internet grows exponentially

– Current search algorithms will become less effective in helping us find content online