Yahoo, Google, and Statistics

Alright, so I was reading up on the news this evening and looked over an article claiming that Yahoo and Google have roughly equal market share. Which seemed ludicrous on the face of it.

I mean, Google makes oodles more money than Yahoo, a fact that the article in question freely admits. yet they claimed that the sites shared equal visitor metrics.

And that’s weird. It really is. Then I thought about it. And figured I had the solution. So, I needed an independent third party that does some kind of arbitrary web metrics that involve both Yahoo and Google.

Sure enough, there’s a quick little toolbar monitor that doesn’t do too good a job outside what Windows users are visiting, but for generic non-OS centric numbers works just fine (although take them with a grain of salt).

So I looked up the comparison over at Alexa. And you’ll notice some weird things that won’t seem weird unless you’re putting your critical thinking hat on.

For instance, the numbers look pretty parallel. Yahoo scores down 10% on most of the metrics (which is a lot, Alexa-wise) aside from time on page which is absurdly high for both engines, relatively speaking, when you consider what it is they do… but it’s about the same for that, which doesn’t jive at all with the article. However, it does make perfect sense with the way my thoughts were going.

Okay, so you’ve got similar statistics for both pages, Yahoo trailing by a good bit. They did sell their search out to Microsoft, after all, which means they don’t think they can cut it as an entity. Remember Netscape? Starting to get a little hazy as to what they did?

AOL sacrificed them in much the same way as Yahoo did their search engine.. and I’m sure they’re patting themselves on the back over what a great idea that was.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Here’s the relevant page over at Alexa. Click on Search % there on the nav bar. Yahoo and Google are the one type of page that doesn’t really want a high number on that score.

Why, you might ask? It means they’re getting a high percentage of their traffic from search results. Given that most of those results come from Google, that means most of their traffic is coming from.. er.. googling.

So yes, they might have acceptable numbers over at Yahoo as far as inbound is concerned. But that’s only, by my estimation (from a little bit of digging), because Google is getting that traffic first. And getting the chance to sell you an ad with the search, if what you’re really looking for is a purchase.

Which means that Yahoo gets the dregs. Kinda explains why their ad revenue sucks, seeing as how they’re only getting a shot if it didn’t work out for the admittedly more accurate Google ad machine. Puts it into perspective why they see a 7th the revenue of the big G.

Seems that if the author of the article I was reading did a little critical thinking or cross-referenced those numbers with something they might’ve realized it rings a bit hollow. Yahoo doesn’t do that much worse a job with ad-revenue than Google, certainly not 1/7th as well anyway, so something had to be wrong.