Google Fights Back After Yahoo-Firefox Deal
The search engine wars continue. Earlier this month, we reported that Google's search market share has fallen to its lowest level since 2008. The major impetus behind these changes involves the recent Yahoo-Firefox deal, in which Mozilla replaced Google with Yahoo as the default search engine in its browser.
The latest numbers, released by comScore, indicate that Google's search share dropped 1.6 percent to 65.4 percent in December. Yahoo gained that 1.6 percent, moving them up to 11.8 percent. Now Google is fighting to win back some of those users.
Google Prompts Users to Switch Back
When visiting Google on Firefox, many users are getting a blue bar at the top of the screen that says, "Get to Google faster. Make Google your default search engine." A "Sure" and a "No thanks" button follow this message. If a user clicks on "Sure," they're taken to an instruction screen that looks like this:
Other Google users see a message that says, "Come here often? Make Google your homepage." Clicking on "Sure" also brings users to a set of instructions that shows them how to change their homepage. Of course, these messages are only ever received if a person visits Google while having their defaults set to other things. Due to the fact that a surprisingly large percentage of people never bother changing defaults, the amount of impact that these messages will have is arguable. Google also took to Twitter to try convincing anybody following their tweets to come back after the Yahoo-Firefox deal. It looked like this:
— Google (@google) January 21, 2015
The link leads to the same instruction page that shows users how to change their default.
Will The Yahoo-Firefox Deal Have Lasting Impact?
It's tough to say at this point whether or not the people who switched to Yahoo actually prefer that search engine or whether they just haven't changed the default and don't mind the switch. Also, it's arguable whether or not a change of 1.6 percent will have any real effect on either Google or Yahoo. Of course, the very act of setting up these prompts shows that Google has been affected enough to try winning those users back. In any case, it's highly likely that Yahoo's surge will plateau in coming months.
If anything, the Yahoo-Firefox deal shows Google's competitors that it's not impossible to challenge the giant's reign. As Google's contracts with other providers come to an end, competitors should try hard to make sure they're not renewed. For search marketers, these battles are both good and bad. It will take much more time to devote efforts to Google, Yahoo and Bing rather than to just one search engine. At the same time, if marketers are lucky, the average cost-per-click for Google Adwords will come down in response to Google's losses. Google still has some of the most expensive CPC rates in the industry.