Experian Hitwise and comScore data have identified a decline in year-on-year searches on engines and related sites. Forrester provides supporting evidence of the shift in market research reports.
The Hitwise numbers identify that overall visits fell by 40 million since August of 2011 -- and as a result, for the first time this year, engines did not show a year-on-year gain. Hitwise Analyst James Murray explains that the total of U.K. Internet visits to search engines in August fell by 100 million visits sequentially, to 2.21 billion in August 2012. Visits also fell last month by 40 million since August 2011, marking the first this year that the industry did not see a year-on-year rise in search activity.
Numbers from Hitwise identify the shift -- whether temporary or permanent -- as well as comScore. Total explicit core searches in August 2012 fell to 17 billion compared with 17.1 billion in the year-ago month.
In August 2012, Google sites generated 11.3 billion; Microsoft, 2.7 billion; Yahoo, 2.2 billion; Ask Network, 550 million; and AOL, 292 million. Compare those numbers with August 2011, when Google generated 11.1 billion searches; Yahoo, 2.8 billion; Microsoft, 2.5 billion; Ask Network, 510 million; and AOL, 229 million.
Forrester Research recently published a report on how Amazon continues to be the first destination for product search. Apps and onsite search are quickly becoming tools to support search engine marketing. Then there are mobile apps and online sites. Over at search agency Distilled, Tom Anthony believes that in the next 10 years there will be a huge decline in the number of users visiting Web sites, and that APIs and structured data will play pivotal roles in that shift.
As for the naysayers who believe the downward slide won't affect search engine marketing in the near term -- not too much anyway -- Conductor CEO Seth Besmertnik points to Google's earnings call, where the company announced "seeing more searches on Google than ever before."
It's easy to look at a company's performance in an analytics tool to monitor declining or rising organic traffic from search engines. "There are other places on the Web people search, and they're just as important to think about, but 50% of all referring traffic still comes from organic traffic on search engines, compared with social media traffic at about 7% or 8%," Besmertnik said.