13Dec 2014

While it may have originated as a search engine, over the past couple of years Google has been branching out into everything from online video (Youtube) to mobile operating systems (Android) and web browsers (Chrome). Hardly surprising then that some of those companies that were once pleased to have Google on board are now feeling a little more uncomfortable to have it in such close proximity.

The most significant recent news on this front is that the Mozilla Firefox browser is switching its default search provider in the US from Google to Yahoo! Google has provided default search services to the browser for the past decade, but with that arrangement now coming to an end, Firefox has announced its new allegiance to Yahoo! from December for the next five years. According to Yahoo!, it will offer a new, “clean, modern and immersive design” to Firefox users.

Yahoo! Search is of course powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and has been since 2011. This deal effectively widens Bing’s sphere of influence considerably, given that Firefox accounts for approximately 16% of web browsers in the US.

Global Search

As well as losing its position as Firefox users’ default search provider in the US, Google has also been supplanted by Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China. However it seems that in Europe and other regions of the world, Google will continue to be the default for Firefox, despite there being no formal deal between the search engine and Mozilla. A recent post by Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land goes into more detail on this (Search Engine Land Article)

Could Google lose Safari next?

This may not be the end of Google’s woes though. There has been much chatter recently about what may transpire when its current contract with Apple to provide default search for Safari browsers is up next year. With Google’s Android handsets now Apple’s chief competitor in the mobile arena, some have speculated that it may not wish to give Google a free ride when it comes to search.

Yahoo and Bing have been suggested by some as possible replacements as default search provider on Apple devices. It has even been rumoured that Apple itself is working on a new search engine (Article Link).

If Google does lose Safari then this could be far more significant than the Firefox deal, as Safari currently accounts for almost half of all mobile searches, according to PC Pro. And with mobile searches becoming ever more important in the world of e-commerce, this is definitely one to watch.

What it means for SEO

So what does all this mean for digital marketers, webmasters and search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists? Well, for one thing, it may mean that where in the past the focus of SEO efforts has been on Google and what the search giant is currently doing (think Panda and Penguin), in future online marketers will have to take a much broader view.

While Google remains search engine numero uno for the time-being, it’s certainly worthwhile keeping an eye on what its main rivals and even young pretenders are up to. Recent comments by Google chairman Eric Schmidt are also very interesting, in which he surprisingly described Amazon as his company’s biggest search rival (Article Link – BBC)

About Christian Garrington