To say that Google (or Alphabet) completely rules our lives and thoughts might be a bit of an overstatement, but only a bit. It can be considered the most influential company in operation today, at least to the average person. They know everything and can direct users practically anywhere, and a blacklist from them online is a death sentence for most brands.
Yet while the company has its hands in many different sectors of the tech world and beyond, for now, we want to look at where it started: Google search is the most popular search engine today by far. There is little like it, and where there have been competitors, they are mostly punchlines or explicitly the "anti-Google" search engine. All of this means that knowing more about the platform and how people use it is essential. Whether you are a professional marketer, an average user, or someone interested in technology, Google is the future.
There are lots of things to talk about, and we hope to get into as much as possible in this article, so keep on reading and take notes if you need to:
Google Search Usage
How many people use Google Search, and just how dominant is it among search engines? Let's review with these statistics:
- Google is the most popular search engine, and it isn't close. As of June 2022, Google has 91.88 percent of the total search engine market share. Bing comes in next with 3.19 percent. You can see the full results below:
- While the market share of each search engine might change by a percentage point (or a tenth of a percentage point) occasionally, Google's clear lead remains constant. It is often the other search engines that take users from one another, it appears, with options rising and disappearing over the years.
- How many queries does Google handle every day? The exact amount varies, but on average, Google handles about 3.5 billion searches daily, according to Internet Live Stats. This equals about 1.2 trillion searches annually and about 104 thousand searches every second. We will have conducted millions of searches in the time it takes you to read this section.
- Most of the people who use Google use it several times a day. According to one piece from a couple of years ago, 84 percent of respondents use the search engine three times a day or more.
- Google is the most visited website in the world and is many people's home page. It received 85.2 billion visits in May of 2022 and generally maintained that level of visitation.
- Google Search users have trended more towards mobile in recent years. About 64 percent of searches are from a mobile device, with 35 percent from a desktop or laptop. There are also more keywords from mobile traffic.
- People spend an average of 16 minutes and 21 seconds on Google daily. This is usually done over several different sessions.
- The average Google user will visit 6.87 or 8.83 pages, depending on which analysis you look at. In either case, people like to compare and gather as much information as possible.
Google Ads and Marketing
Google doesn't run on air. It takes money to keep all the servers and services running, not to mention pay the employees. Alphabet (and Google as a result of that) hopes to make a profit, whether from the searches themselves or leveraged information and access. So what does Google look like as a business (what we can find out, anyhow)? What information can we glean from the following statistics?
- Google makes a fair bit of money. Its annual ad revenue in 2021 was 209 million dollars, up from 79.38 billion in 2016. Almost tripling in five years is no easy feat, yet with Google Search and other companies under Alphabet's wing, it seems a stepping stone to today's success.
- Unlike some industries, Google Ad Revenue can still grow quite a bit, with ads becoming more in-demand and more people using the search engine over time. We would not be surprised if we saw the price of an ad (compared to a like ad) increase in the next few years.
- People seem to trust Google Ads. People are four times more likely to click on an ad from Google than any other ad network. Google is a name people know, as opposed to what might be spam elsewhere.
- This might be because Google also enforces its guidelines strictly regarding ad accounts. It has taken down billions upon billions of them.
- And yet it is more than just advertising and marketing tactics that make Google relevant to business and the economy. Google is how people find out about products and find the best deals. You can see that in the Google Shopping tab when you do some searches. Often a product pops up right in the results if you make the search specific enough. And 46 percent of product searches begin with a Google search. A brand's rankings and page information are the first impressions, so they better be good.
SEO doesn't rule Google, but it is one of the only ways companies can stand out online. Google instead determines SEO strategy for all intents and purposes, with professionals trying to guess what Google thinks is important (more on the algorithm later).
Here are some basic stats about SEO and the industry surrounding it that you should know:
- SEO spending reached about 47.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase. It showcases just how much investment companies put into this.
- On average, a one-time SEO project will cost about $5000. However, many brands have a constant set of ongoing projects, and it is effectively a full-time job (multiple full-time jobs, honestly) to keep a page on top for competitive keywords.
- And yet that above investment is worth it. Regarding search results, 10 percent of people don't even look past the first page. And if you're past the third page, you practically don't exist. Many brands will try to rank for more obscure keywords if they know they won't be able to compete with huge companies for some spots.
- This effect is even more pronounced on mobile, with some people not wanting to scroll down all that much to find a result. People might be more likely to change their search query rather than look through pages of results unlikely to help them. After all, typing the word "book" into Google yields more than 15 billion results. You will not be willing or able to go through all of those. If the first few results are not good, then some clarification might be in order.
- Regarding B2B marketing, 61 percent of B2B markets said that organic searches and SEO provide more leads than anything else. It could be that their other efforts aren't effective, but we're more willing to think that search traffic matters that much.
- Some small businesses can't compete with the major chains on a national level with SEO, but they don't need to. Now location also matters to SEO, and a local store that ranks locally for SEO does fine.
- Interestingly, 76 percent of people who search for a local business on their phone visit such a business within the next 24 hours. Additionally, 28 percent of local searches lead to a purchase within 24 hours. It showcases the importance of readily available information and an excellent site (or social media page) where people can learn more about a small business.
- Despite the need for businesses to get on Google and create at least some form of listing, 56 percent of local businesses haven't claimed a "Google My Business" listing, making it easier for users to learn more about a place.
- Just because a local business shows up and has good local SEO doesn't mean that it's in the clear. About 88 percent of users make sure to seek online reviews about a business they want to look up. A business with a bad reputation doesn't necessarily benefit from the publicity.
- Google prioritizes mobile for a good reason. Mobile users will not stick around on a site that isn't optimized for mobile or takes too long to load. And if a site is bounced from, it decreases in the rankings. Google does not want to send people to sites it does not think work properly. If you're a business owner or manager reading this, ensure your site is optimized. You'll get a lot more leads in the long run for it.
- For sales purposes, it's expected that mobile sales will overtake desktop eCommerce sales in 2022. Some say the change has already occurred. Whatever the timing, it seems inevitable, and Google will pay attention to ensuring users have what they need (and to optimize their platform for maximum gain, of course).
What's Trending? What Are People Searching?
Ok, so we know a lot about the userbase of Google searches (everybody) and a little bit about the backend. Yet what do people look for on Google, and what is trending? What is a popular search term? It's a natural reflection of what people are interested in and the popular news of the day.
Let's look at what is trending as of this writing: movies, news events, or something else.
Other days have more trending topics. And these are more specific search terms. There might be thousands more searches for "Elon Musk Father" or anything related to that topic. There's a lot to search about regarding Joe Manchin; how should we categorize all those topics, and how big should we make the umbrella? These are questions that professionals and Google needs to contend with regularly.
Many of these things might not matter in the long term, but these topics are getting tens to hundreds of thousands of searches today. If you want a look for today, all you need to do is go to Google Trends. The site is freely available, exciting to dig your nails into, and provides a lot of insight into what people are interested in.
Yet this is just a small portion of topics that are generally smaller or more niche in scale. Some things get far more search traffic, and others are growing steadily over time. These are things such as the weather or how to do a specific task. The search rankings are a battleground, but for the average user, the information provided from these queries is vital. Some of the most common topics and trends include:
- "How to" followed by a common task or problem.
- The weather, both currently and in the near future.
- As you see from the daily trends, sports scores and news are popular topics.
- People will commonly search for social media to quickly get to their chosen site. Just type "Facebook" into the search bar and go quickly to the page.
- Popular websites also get searched for commonly. People may want to type Amazon and click on the link instead of typing out Amazon.com.
- Popular brands such as Starbucks or Mcdonald's get frequent searches. Perhaps this is to learn more about the menu, product offering, or locations in the area.
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding search variety. Otherwise, think about what you commonly search for, perhaps without thinking about it. You type in words and get results, perhaps as the way to get to a site instead of typing in the URL. Billions of people go through the same steps as you, and it all goes through Google Search.
You may also want to look at the top searches according to ahrefs or another site that compiles such data. Even looking at the top 100 will give you an idea of what people are interested in.
Google is tight-lipped about the specifics of its algorithm, and for good reason. That algorithm is the golden goose that lays eggs annually worth billions of dollars. You wouldn't want to share it either. And yet, despite this, the algorithm updates and changes over time, and experts have learned things about the algorithm. It's hard to quantify, but the following trends are true:
- Generally, Google uses bots to check a page or site and determine how well it might rank. It can change over time, of course, but sites require indexing. And there is no possible way that each page can be manually reviewed with the number of sites and pages going online and changing every second.
- The bots have gotten more sophisticated and intelligent over time, and we expect this trend to continue.
- If a page is slow to load for whatever reason, it will negatively affect search rankings, with Google thinking the page is poorly optimized or that it provides a poor user experience.
- A site that is easy to navigate and understand will improve rankings.
- Secure websites with HTTPS protection will do better than websites without them (HTTP sites).
- A page will do better if it links only to informative and trustworthy content. If it links to questionable content, it will do worse in the rankings.
- A mobile-friendly website will do much better than a website that is not mobile-friendly or does not have a mobile option. Google checks the mobile version of a site.
- Google will rank a page based on its relevance to the search term. This involves not only the quality of the content but the keywords used. Keyword stuffing, however, has been discouraged and more easily noticed by Google recently.
- If people bounce off a site too quickly, then Google looks at that negatively. Many factors affect the bounce rate, and most people will bounce off of a given site quickly, but it is one of the most important things for brands, marketers, and site designers to work on.
- The length of an article or page matters, but experts often disagree about the perfect length.
- There are, of course, additional factors, but they are disputed, minor, or unknown. Essentially the guiding principle Google likes to give people and companies is that a page should be easy to use, informative, and helpful to the question or problem. Most updates are made to bring that vision closer to reality.
There are also two types of updates when it comes to the Google Algorithm:
- There are minor regular changes to the algorithm that happen daily or near-daily. They affect very little. Trying to keep track of them all (if that's possible) is an exercise in madness for anyone but a full-time expert or a Google employee that makes those changes.
- Then there are the core updates, which are a big deal and potentially change the algorithm. They occasionally happen a few times yearly, and SEO professionals pay close attention. Some directly combat black hat SEO tactics, keyword stuffing, and other measures. Instead, others focus on making search results seem more "human" and useful.
Many websites and "experts" will say they've cracked the code after following internet search trends. They say they have gotten the Google Algorithm completely figured out. If you find these, chances are they aren't 100 percent correct. They might have the right idea and know the critical factors, but they don't have the complete picture. Take their advice with a grain of salt, though it can undoubtedly improve SEO performance in some cases.
The Future of Google Search
While we have a pretty good idea of where Google Search stands right now, what can we expect from the search tool in the future? Some things will not change, but to maintain its dominance and goodwill, it must keep innovating and trying new things. What might those things be?
- One thing is absolutely certain: Google Search is going nowhere. The internet might effectively collapse without it at this point. It is a major profit driver, what the company is known for, and the backbone of many other businesses' online tools. There is nothing that even moderately competes with it, and this seems unlikely to change in the next decade, much less the next few years.
- Google Search will evolve, though. It will be through how people use it and algorithm updates, as we've already discussed. Think about how Google Search adapted to consider mobile devices and sites. As technology progresses, we might see more updates like that.
- On the other hand, the future of Alphabet and other Google-related companies is not so sure. The company often likes to experiment and try new initiatives. Also, it is not afraid to drop or nearly abandon projects that aren't doing well (remember Google Plus?).
- We will likely see more integration where possible. Integrating Google Maps into Google Search was a huge boon for everyone. More tools and features are seamlessly integrated into results if you look at your browser or compare past results with current results. It could be a company Google acquires in the future or an expanded feature of another Google product.
- One area where we might see a bit more integration is with YouTube. Google and YouTube have the same parent company, and YouTube can be considered the second largest search engine in the world. More search results than even now might come from YouTube, and searches can be more accurate.
- Given how the news and its distribution are often in the headlines, we might also see changes to Google News.
- We will also naturally see improvements to Chrome, which can in many ways be considered an extension of Google's search apparatus.
- Alongside Google, we will see the growth of the SEO industry and professionals whose sole job is ensuring that the brand's websites and pages appear on the platform via ads or through natural traffic. It's already quite large by any standard, and as the world grows more digitally focused, to not be on Google (or social media, for that matter) is almost nonexistent.
- Voice searches are becoming more common and accurate, making up a significant portion of total searches. We can expect Google (among other companies) to invest more in voice recognition technology and ways to properly respond to requests via voice.
- Google Search might become more visually focused in the future. This means more and better picture and video results for queries, but it's more than that. It might allow people to use reverse image search in new and exciting ways. Perhaps someone is at a store, sees a product they like, and takes a picture. That picture might lead to results all about the product if the user wishes. We already have "smart vision" modes on smartphones that yield results from pointing the camera at something. This technology could be the future of Google, or at least a major part of the search experience in the future.
- Note that we already have Google Lens from the company and that it has been used over one billion times since a few years ago. We should expect expansions to that, and perhaps more functionality as smartphones get more efficient (note that Google also designs a few popular smartphones, often with unique features).
- And these features are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. As more people use these features more often, they will be more accurate and effective.
Once again, we don't need to overstate the importance of Google to online life. The only reason you might not have thought about it is that it is so ubiquitous you might be fully immersed in its ecosystem without even realizing it. Yet there is so much more to discover about Google, its search engine, and the trends it brings up that one might never be finished studying. We hope you've learned a few new things from this piece and come back as you feel the need.