Copyright © 2005 Bill Platt
A fascinating thing happened today on the way to this article. The story here was not planned, rather it was discovered.
An amazing and bizarre event seems to have happened in January and February of 2003. In those early months of 2003, the major search engines stopped growing, and few people seem to even care.
After an exhaustive five hour search running the best and brightest spider search engines and a host of search key phrases, the most up-to-date numbers I could locate for the “Number of Searches Performed Per Day”, or per year for that matter, for any search engine was done by Search Engine Watch in February of 2003. And in that issue, Danny Sullivan the editor of Search Engine Watch had his numbers authoritatively from the powers-that-be at each search engine company.
The global February 2003 “Searches Per Day” numbers for all of the listed search engines added up 625 million. For just the United States, the numbers from January 2003 totaled 319 million searches per day.
Apparently, I am not alone in the discovery that current numbers just are not available. Every reference to “Searches Per Day” that I was able to turn up pointed back to the February 2003 numbers, or the numbers of a previous month.
I did find a few people lamenting the fact that up-to-date numbers were not available, but these people were few and far between.
I was at a loss. Never before, when I undertook to find specific information on the web, have I ever come up empty handed! I am still stunned.
Still interested in the state of internet searching, I devised a plan to discover up-to-date numbers that I could use to better understand the value of the search engines in my daily marketing activities.
Thank God for the Wayback Machine, Alexa and Google!
I know it might seem that I am just throwing numbers out there for you to read, but the following numbers will come in handy to help you to understand my methodologies and calculations.
THE BASIC METHODOLOGY
Internet World Stats shows that as of 2005 that there are more than 817 million people online, with 218 million of those people being from North America.
Internet World Stats
The same site showed 607 million global users in 2003, 25% fewer users than in 2005.
Internet World Stats
I will now turn to Alexa statistics are notoriously skewed, even by Alexa’s own admission. Let’s face it, Alexa only divines their results from the people who use the Alexa toolbar. And, the people who use the Alexa toolbar are primarily marketers and webmasters.
Whois.sc shows that there are currently 49 million domains registered world-wide.
In 2001, ZookNIC stated that the five largest domain name holders possess 8.7% of all registered domains. That value probably has not moved downward over the last two years.
So, roughly 4.2 million domains are held by five companies! This leaves 45 million domains held by all but five companies. Given the number of people whom I know that possess an average of 5 domains each (I own nearly 20 myself), I would like to take that number down further to an estimate of 30 million domain name holders for these 45 million domains.
To spin this another way, I might just be onto something. Alexa has had just over 10 million people download their toolbar. And figuring further that less than 1/3rd of the webmasters would even know what Alexa is, that too would put the number of webmasters at about 30 million people.
With 30 million webmasters and 817 million users, the ratio would indicate that 3.6% of the total internet users are webmasters.
PROBLEMS WITH YAHOO’S OWN PUBLIC FIGURES
Interestingly, Yahoo’s claims that they had only 1.9 billion page views per day in March of 2003 and 2.4 billion page views per day since March of 2004.
Alexa shows that Yahoo! has been receiving visits from 300,000 unique individuals online, for every million internet users consistently for the last two years. Alexa also shows that Yahoo! has consistently been serving 12.9 page views per user over the same time period.
With 817 million people currently online, Yahoo! is knocking down 245 million users a day. So, the Alexa numbers would seem to indicate that Yahoo! is pulling more than 3.1 billion page views per day, JUST from the Alexa userbase in 2005. The same indicators would put Yahoo! page views at 2.3 billion page views per day in 2003.
We have already determined that roughly only 3.6% of the internet’s userbase is using the Alexa software! Granted, Alexa’s userbase is much more active than the rest of the internet’s users, but it appears that Yahoo! is expecting us to believe that Alexa users are Yahoo’s only users.
GOOGLE NUMBERS ARE KEY TO GETTING THE REAL NUMBERS
For most of the past two years, Google has been serving 13 thousand Alexa users for every million users. This breaks down to 7.7 million visitors a day. And, over the last six months, Google has edged upwards to 18 thousand per million, or roughly 14.7 million visitors per day. And once again, Alexa only tabulates the activity of 3.6% of the full range of internet users.
We also know from Alexa’s Google analysis that the average number of page views per user is 5.2, and we also know that the first page view at Google is not a search. Therefore, we can safely assume that the average Google user does 4.2 search queries. This carries on to show that Google does an average of 62 million queries a day from Alexa users alone.
THE BRASS TACKS
Since Alexa users only account for 3.6% of the total internet userbase, and these people are among the most active people on the internet, we might assume that they account for a disproportionately high number of the actual “Searches Per Day” served.
As the worst case scenario for our search engine friends, let us take the Alexa values and multiply the numbers by 15. This would assume that Alexa users account for 54% of all search queries done.
And then we will take the same numbers and multiply them by 27 (100 divided by 3.6 and rounded down) — the best case scenario which is that Alexa is completely and totally representative of the real-world internet.
CURRENT SEARCH ENGINE MARKET SHARES
47% goes into 100% roughly 2.13 times. I will use the 2.13 number to calculate the total number of searches globally served, based on the Google search query numbers which I believe to be very close to accurate.
GETTING THE ACTUAL NUMBERS BASED ON THE KNOWN VARIABLES
– Google’s WORST Case Scenario –
* 62 million Alexa queries times 15 = 930 million queries daily
– Google’s BEST Case Scenario –
* 62 million Alexa qu
eries times 27 = 1.67 billion queries daily
– Global Search Queries WORST Case Scenario –
* Estimated Google Queries ~ 930 million times 2.13 = 2.139 billion total estimated queries daily
– Global Search Queries BEST Case Scenario –
* Estimated Google Queries ~ 1.67 billion times 2.13 = 3.557 billion total estimated queries daily
– Yahoo’s WORST Case Scenario –
* 2.139 billion total estimated queries daily times 21% market share = 449 million estimated Yahoo queries daily
* 3.1 billion page views times 15 = 46.5 billion daily page views
– Yahoo’s BEST Case Scenario –
* 3.557 billion total estimated queries daily times 21% market share = 747 million estimated Yahoo queries daily
* 3.1 billion page views times 27 = 83.7 billion daily page views
It has been noted quite frequently in the past months that the new roll-out of Yahoo! Search is making big waves in the actual search results served by Yahoo. While this may be true, their overall page views have not changed that much over the last two years. So, it would seem that Yahoo! is actually succeeding only to cannibalize their own page views.
If you can trust my methodologies and the resources that I have uncovered, then you can trust that after a long two year silence that we finally have some reputable “Searches Per Day” numbers that we can actually believe in.
If you wish to comment on any of my methodologies or calculations, then please feel free to visit my website and use my contact page to reach me.
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