Traditional keyword-based search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are perhaps the first to be considered when evaluating competition. Google has monopolized the search engine industry for many years. So much so in fact, that Google has been the object of several antitrust investigations attempting to determine if the company has been altering search results to satisfy their own competitive interests. As of December 2013, Google controlled 67.3% of search queries, Bing 18.2% and Yahoo 10.8% in the United States. The outlook for global share shows a similar picture of an industry dominated by a few very large companies. The traditional keyword-based search engine market is fiercely competitive among the top companies. Google and Bing have been growing regularly while Yahoo has been declining. However, the competition in the Wiki space is limited to Wikipedia.org that has 500 million monthly visitors worldwide and delivers 4.5 million articles in the English language edition. Wikipedia.org is ranked as the number 5 website in the world with no identifiable competition in this consumer generated content delivery space.
Vertical search includes sites such as WebMD (health), Kayak (travel), Monster.com (career), and Amazon.com (ecommerce). These sites may be considered competitors because they are also trying to attract users to their websites to search for product or service information, and some users will navigate directly to those sites rather than go through traditional search sites. Initial search is just one step in consumer search behavior. As data continues to increase on the Web, people are turning to specialized search sites that focus on a specific area. Since the Internet is growing so quickly it is nearly impossible to accurately track the number of pages on the Internet. Estimates now show that there are more than 100+ billion indexed pages on the surface web alone. The number of registered websites is easier to track and is quickly approaching 1 billion. And the deep web is estimated as being 500 times larger than the surface web with over 1 trillion pages. The rapid growth of information on the Internet is allowing for specialized search sites to enter the market frequently.
Social media sites are becoming more of a threat to the traditional search engine industry. According to ranking websites, MOZ and Alexa, websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have consistently been among the top 10 sites in the world. In January 2014, Mark Zuckerberg indicated that Facebook would compete with Google in the search engine market. Zuckerberg pointed at three things he believes will give them the edge; Facebook’s index is larger than Google’s, Facebook’s advanced AI and strength in the mobile industry. There is no denying that the information and connection strength of social media sites is growing.