The easy answer is simply that Google’s better but, as the success of Olive Garden shows, quality and popularity don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Why is Google so much more popular when it comes to searching for home improvement (and searching in general) than Yahoo?
While no one’s sure of the exact numbers, one study estimated that in terms of monthly unique visitors Yahoo gets 724 million to Google’s 1.2 billion. Yahoo’s no slouch, but Google’s the clear winner. Why? They simply seem to be better at figuring out what their customers want and then giving it to them.
Photo Credit: Andrew Warren
Your customers want bathroom renovations and new decks and, in one weird case, a garage roof hot tub, and that means they’re going to be searching for local results. If you search for home improvement terms, Google does a better job of placing local businesses at the forefront both in terms of ads and in terms of first-page results. That’s good for you, because you want your name to be placed prominently, and it’s good for your customers, because they’re not about to hire someone to truck in shingles from miles away. Here’s a recent study that found Google produces the greatest percentage of local results for all types of search terms, with as much of a difference as 10% depending on what kind of term is used.
Google also produces more relevant images and videos, particularly when it comes to ads. That’s important, because someone searching for a new deck wants to look at, well, new decks, not a bunch of skateboards or other unrelated items.
That’s why Google’s good for you and your business, but why does the average customer prefer Google? After all, Yahoo isn’t terrible at providing local listings – Google is just better, but not so much that every customer will notice.
There are many reasons a person settles on a search engine. One is just habit – search engines are like cushy recliner chairs, in that once you get comfortable with one it’s going to take something truly momentous to make you switch. There’s also the fact that Google has become synonymous with web searching while Yahoo first brings to mind the brand’s news and messaging services rather than their own search engine. There’s a reason you’ll constantly hear friends and colleagues encourage each other to “Google it,” while “Yahoo it” isn’t an expression that’s used outside of the context of a rodeo.
Google is also simpler to use – compare their clean, simple homepage that puts the search bar front and center to Yahoo’s search bar that’s hiding on top of a cluttered mess. Yahoo’s constant encouragement to install their toolbar, along with criticism for enabling adware, also doesn’t fare well against Google’s simplicity and cleanliness.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore Yahoo – on the contrary, while their 20% share of the search engine market pales in comparison to Google’s majority, it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. Just remember that no matter how good your SEO is, you might struggle a little bit more with getting your local listings in front of Yahoo’s user base.