The author says it can be easy to equate search marketing with Google marketing because, well, statistically, it is. But it shouldn't be. By focusing on Google above all else, we perpetuate a cycle that disenfranchises smaller competitors and keeps the search behemoth at the top. Here are some reasons to consider the alternatives:
Search is bigger than Google
Since 2009, Google has locked in a roughly 90% share of the search engine market. In the same period, other search engines have come and gone faster than you can say "indexing issue." But at any given point in the last 12 years, there have been between 13 and 29 smaller search engine options, excluding even Bing and Yahoo, that serve countries all over the world.
Collectively, these "fringe" search engines have made up between roughly 2-4% of the market each year. And the story of these small players is similar. They burst onto the scene, squabble for that 10% share with Bing and Yahoo, and find themselves either outcompeted or relegated to a fractional market share. All the while the big three keep an iron grip on the industry.
As of June 2021, there are 17 of these smaller search engine options with a global market share above .01%. Some engines like Baidu, Yandex, and Naver are focused on specific regions or countries. But even if your service area is limited to the United States, that leaves between 5 and 10 new engines to explore.
It's up to marketers
Search engines fail for a number of reasons. Many have nothing to do with the product itself. In part, they fail because of our expectations of the product and our unwillingness to accept "low volume." The truth is, we, as search marketers, contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevents many search engines from establishing themselves.
Because we don't treat these search engines as more serious marketing channels, we create a system in which we demand more users but won't provide the resources to achieve that user volume. Then we throw our hands up, lamenting Google's outsized influence as we allocate more and more of our marketing dollars there.
The author adds that there are options out there that are worth testing. Brave and Ecosia are great places to start. They're novel. They make an impact. They're relatively cheap. And we owe it to these nascent platforms, ourselves, and our clients to diversify our strategies to accommodate them. But if we break out of that loop and adopt these new platforms, despite our hesitations about volume and UX, we give them the chance to get better. We give them the chance to show us that search is more than what Google does.