Bing just got bitch-slapped. Despite Microsoft’s very best efforts in attempting to claw back Google’s overwhelming lead in web search, stepping up its “Scroogled” campaign and integrating Bing apps with its new Office platform, it’s just been humiliated by the Russians – with Yandex shunting it out the way and to become the world’s fourth-biggest search engine by total search volume.
Yandex, a Moscow-based web crawler that specializes in Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet searches, generated a total 9.46 billion search queries during the last two months of 2012, according to SearchEngineWatch, which uses data from ComScore. That sterling performance sees the Russian site edge past Microsoft’s effort for the very first time, after Bing could only manage a total of 8.96 billion searches over the same two months.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the situation is even worse than it looks, for comScore’s numbers take into account searches by all of Microsoft’s sites, including Windows Live and MSN, not just Bing – meaning its primary search engine was actually used even less. Bing accounts for approximately 92% of Microsoft’s total searches, which means its two-month tally for November/December 2012 is actually closers to 8.24 billion total queries, more than a billion behind Yandex.
Elsewhere, the results were pretty much as expected, with Google once again reaffirming its status as the go-to search engine for the world’s sheep, racking up 228.9 billion search queries. Coming in a distance second place was China’s Baidu, with 29.1 billion searches, with Yahoo (yes, it still exists apparently) chalking up 17.2 billion queries to land in third. Overall, the last two months of the year saw the 350 billion searches-mark passed for the very first time, according to comScore.
The Rise of Yandex
Yandex’s growth seems to be a reflection of internet penetration in Russia as a whole, as illustrated by the following graphic from eMarketer, which shows that the country is still in the ranks of ‘developing nations’ as far as web adoption goes.
“It’s thanks to the Russian audience that the number of Yandex searches grew,” said Yandex spokesperson Tatiana Komarova to TechWeekEurope.
“Internet penetration is still relatively low in Russia and it continues to grow by adding older people and residents of small towns.”
A quick look at the stats confirms this, with Yandex enjoying a 62% overall share of the market on its home turf, with Google lying a distant second place with just 26% of searches in the country.
However, it’s not just at home where Yandex is the dominant search engine. Outside of Russia, Yandex enjoys a large following in countries such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, controlling 40% of those markets, while it’s also making good progress in Turkey since its launch in 2011.
Yandex does also have an international, English-language version of its search engine, and it has earned some praise for the accuracy of its results, although it has yet to make any significant dent in markets outside of those countries listed above.
There is one interesting curiosity that deserves a mention though. Despite the fact that Yandex now outranks Bing in terms of total searches, the weird thing is that Microsoft still boasts far more unique searchers than its Russian rival. According to ComScore’s stats, some 268.6 million unique users carried out at least one search on Microsoft’s search tools in November/December, compared to just 74.4 million using Yandex.
One explanation for this could be that in English-speaking countries, some users might prefer to use a variety of search engines for their research purposes, given that there are a number of useful alternatives available, such as the ‘spam-free’ search engine Blekko, or DuckDuckGo, which offers more privacy for searchers. Then again, it could just be that all those legions of new Russian internet users simply haven’t worked out what the best sites are yet or how to bookmark them, and instead just rely on good old Yandex to find things for them.