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
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 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
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.
The same site showed 607 million global users in 2003, 25% fewer
users than in 2005.
I will now turn to http://Alexa.com. 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. http://www.whois.sc/internet-statistics/
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.
http://pages.alexa.com/company/index.html 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
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"
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
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
In February of 2005, Nielsen/NetRatings suggested that Google
delivers 47% of all search engine queries, and Yahoo! delivers
21% of the queries.
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 queries 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.