Battle of Search Engines in Japan 2008

Analyzing the search results page data from popular search engines in Japan such as Yahoo Japan, Google Japan, MSN Live search and Baidu Japan.

Is Yahoo the most popular search engine in Japan? – This is one of the questions that I get all the time. My answer is usually, “Yes, but…”.

The reason for my “but…” is that the engines never disclose the search volumes in Japan. The numbers came out from Japan market in past were all “number of accesses to the site”: “property popularity”and they didn’t represent the search related traffic. This is why Yahoo Japan, a popular portal site, has been mistakengly named as the popular search engine in Japan. Actually, Yahoo is also more popular (by number of PV) than Google in US, but no one point that out.

These engines still don’t officially announce the search volume, but I heard that the difference in search volumes between Yahoo and Google had shrunk to only 2-3%, which means that businesses targeting Japanese market must do well in both Yahoo and Google.

For the first time, I saw a data on Japanese search engines performance by search results page view. (See below.) Now, the numbers are not representing the search volume since some people may view multiple pages from one (1) search. Nonetheless, it’s a great data for marketers and advertisers.

[Search Result Page Views by Engines – Month of October 2008, Nielsen Online NetView]

  • Yahoo Search – 3,536,499,000
  • Google Search – 2,568,437,000
  • MSN/Windows Live Search – 219,011,000
  • goo Search – 144,852,000
  • Biglobe Search – 97,199,000
  • Nifty Search – 48,575,000
  • Infoseek Search – 47,177,000
  • Excite Search – 23,648,000
  • Baidu Search – 47,380,000

Note: Search for goo, Biglobe and Nifty are powered by Google, and Infoseek and Excite are powered by Overture. The initial search may be conducted on the search top page, portal top page or from tool bars. Mobile search data is not included.

The data shows that Baidu is gaining the search market share. It may not be as quick as they’d like, but it already has more search page views than Infoseek and Excite. It could soon reach to the goo and MSN level. What data doesn’t show is the break down of the search categories. I’m assuming that the numbers include all the search result pages: web, category, image, video, news, music…