People often don’t do what we think they do. Take search, for example. Just go into your local street and ask how people search for things on the Internet. There’s a fair chance you’d come back with some stats that showed most people use Google. The result is we think that most people search using Google.

Indeed, look at your web analytics and visitor information. You’ll probably see Google as a pretty high level referrer. And ask some – less dubious, I admit – Search Engine Optimisation “experts” and some will tell you that you should focus entirely on Google. The other search engines are “also rans” they’ll tell you.

But all is not as it seems in the world of search. Most people, it transpires use several search engines regularly. Instead of being loyal to Google, most of us are in fact “promiscuous searchers”, moving from one engine to another whenever it takes our fancy.

According to a report from Forrester Research, only one in five people are completely loyal to Google. The rest of us swap and change our search engines regularly.

What happens is we probably try Google first. Observation studies show that people try a short search phrase at first, expanding it a word or two at a time if they are unable to find anything suitable. After three attempts at Google, several people then try their luck with another search engine, most frequently Yahoo! after Google, these figures would suggest. This means that if you run your own business, don’t be lulled into a sense of security that if your web site does well on Google search results, all will be well. Eight out of ten people will be using other search engines, either as their main search engine, or as a supplementary to Google.

If you focus your search energies just on Google, you are potentially denying yourself a huge opportunity. Most good search marketing people will tell you this and explain the need to ensure your web site does well for all search engines. However, there are plenty of people who will tell you to forget the other engines. But in doing so you are denying significant exposure to people – 80% of all searchers according to these latest figures.

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