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    The Day the Internet Search Engines Stopped Growing!
    Copyright © 2005, Bill Platt

    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. 
    
    
    THE DISCOVERY
    
    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. 
    http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156461
    
    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 
    between. 
    
    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 stunned.
    
    
    THE TOOLS
    
    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 
    activities. 
    
    Thank God for the Wayback Machine, Alexa and Google!
    
    
    AN OVERVIEW
    
    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. 
    http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
    
    The same site showed 607 million global users in 2003, 25% fewer 
    users than in 2005. 
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030605032454/
    http://internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
    
    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. 
    http://www.zooknic.com/Domains/top_holders.html
    
    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 
    million people. 
    
    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. 
    
    http://web.archive.org/web/20040216162938/
    http://docs.yahoo.com/info/pr/faq.html
    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.
    
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?
    q=&url=http://www.yahoo.com/
    
    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" 
    served. 
    
    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 
    done. 
    
    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. 
    http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_050228.pdf
    
    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.
    
    
    IN CONCLUSION
    
    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. 
    



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