Who would have thought one browser-maker’s move away from Google could have such a big impact? The search engine giant is losing market share in the wake of Mozilla’s decision to make Yahoo its default browser.
In December, Yahoo achieved its highest U.S. search share in more than five years, according to the latest data from StatCounter, an independent Web site analytics provider. At the same time, Google fell to the lowest monthly share yet recorded by the company since StatCounter started measuring in 2008.
It’s absolutely no coincidence that these December stats -- which Yahoo is celebrating and Google is likely bemoaning -- coincide with Mozilla making Yahoo the default search engine for Firefox 34 users in the U.S.
Could This Trend Continue?
Let’s drill down deeper into the numbers. StatCounter Global Stats reports that in December Google took 75.2 percent of U.S. search referrals. That compares with 77.3 percent in November. Bing came in second with 12.5 percent of the searches in December, compared to 12.1 a month earlier, and Yahoo ranked third with 10.4 percent in December, compared to 8.6 in November. Although Google is still dominating, the impact of Mozilla’s move is clear.
Could this trend continue? Possibly, especially given the immediate bump Yahoo witnessed after just the first month of Mozilla’s shifting allegiances. December marked the start of Yahoo’s partnership with Mozilla, bringing an end to Mozilla's 10-year relationship with Google.
“The move by Mozilla has had a definite impact on U.S. search,” said Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. “The question now is whether Firefox users switch back to Google.”
What’s interesting is how big the impact is, considering how few use Firefox in the grand scheme of things. Firefox users represented just over 12 percent of U.S. Internet usage in December, according to StatCounter.
Switching Back to Google?
We turned to Greg Sterling, vice president of Strategy and Insight at the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on Yahoo’s uptick at Google’s expense. He told us Yahoo has received a “meaningful usage” boost from its Firefox deal.
“However, we'll have to see if it holds up over time. There is some evidence that a percentage of Firefox 34 users are switching back to Google,” Sterling said. “So before we can say whether this is a true success for Yahoo, we'll have to see where usage stabilizes.”
Sterling noted that Google had been paying Firefox a percentage of the value of paid clicks as its default engine. Now that it is no longer doing that there is a possibility that over time the company will actually make more money off Firefox-based clicks than it previously did, he explained.
“Data five or six months from now will give us a better indication of what the new Yahoo and Google search usage figures on Firefox will be,” Sterling concluded.