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Search Engine Updates : Spot Them Before They Happen

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen all the major engines update in some form. From major Google updates to minor MSN And Yahoo updates. Sometimes these updates catch website owners off guard.

It wasn’t too long ago that you could set your watch (almost) by a search engine update. And at that time Google was the one most watched. For a few days during the end of the month and spilling into the next month Google would do a complete update of it’s index. Those days are long gone in favor of a constantly updating index, however they do throw in major updates here and there to keep us on our toes.

Similarly, Yahoo! Also does that all inclusive update occasionally. Before I go into the indicators for these two lets take a look at the third of the big 3:

MSN – MSN launched their own crawler based search engine earlier this year. They claim to use a neural network to help index pages and improve results over time.

They also subscribe to the belief of an perpetual update where new content is added as its found, and results are tweaked on the fly.

However, in monitoring MSN since its inception I’ve found occasions where there have been updates which are noticeable. I think I’ve even discovered how you too can watch for them.

Usually, just before a shakeup of MSN’s results, there’s a dramatic change in either pages indexed or back links for a bunch of sites.

Usually I check these factors across all the engines for my clients on Monday mornings, first thing.

And almost without fail, before a major MSN change I will see pages or back links indexed drop from a high number to a low number or even 0. It isn’t the usual change you see in MSN – where new pages or links are added a few at a time. This is a major change in the numbers.

In every case I can think of this precedes a major update by a few days to a week.

In other words, if my client had 15,434 pages indexed, it would drop to 27. This was a precursor to an MSN update. Conversely if the client site went from 15,434 to 15,994 I wouldn’t consider that as an update indication.

Yahoo! – There are a couple indicators for Yahoo! That I’ve noticed in the past.

For one thing, they do something similar to MSN. That is you will see a change in the days leading up to the update. For example, for one of my clients, their back links had remained steady at just under 1 million for the past few weeks. Then in the weeks leading up to the most recent update they began to drop. Now they are at about 760,000 – a 25% loss in back links.

Similarly, the indexed page count followed a similar pattern. For this same client the indexed page count sat around 2.3 million for the past few weeks. 2 weeks before the update it dropped to 1.8 million then to 1.5 million the next week. Now it’s back up to just under 2.3 million.

One other thing I’ve noticed with Yahoo! is that they seem to plan major updates every 3-6 months and these updates take place either just before or just after their earnings report.

I’ve noticed this for the past couple years now and for a few updates you could almost gauge how drastic an update it was going to be based on their earnings report : if Yahoo! had a good quarter then the impact on search engine rankings as a result of the index shift was greater.

These days, however, Yahoo! only seems to have one or two major shakeups per year, with a series of smaller ones throughout the year.

Google – Google, of course, is the engine most people watch.

And while Google too has moved to a perpetually updating index, much like MSN, they do have major updates when algorithms are tweaked.

In fact, we have just completed one such update. And as with previous major updates, I was expecting this one.

There were similar indicators as with MSN And Yahoo! In that there was a subtle shift in the number of back links indexed, but the largest indicator for me was the recent doubling of the index.

You see, back when Yahoo! proclaimed ‘Ours is bigger’ Google retaliated with a massive crawl and index. In almost every case I’ve seen the number of indexed pages roughly doubled.

But since many of the sites in question didn’t actually have that many pages I new an adjustment was coming.

At the end of October, the week before Halloween I noticed that the back link counts for all my clients changed significantly. To me this was the beginning of the update, yet no formal announcement from the “traditional” sources happened until a few days later. That’s when Webmasterworld began calling it Jagger. It was still a few days after that that Matt Cutts acknowledged the update on his blog.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed updates before official announcements, this is about the third Google ‘major’ update that has been preceded by either a page or back link count change.

So what does this mean (if anything?)

As you can see, in all three cases there are good indicators preceding an update.

Either you see major changes in links or pages indexed, or even a positive earnings report after which an update happens.

Granted this is by no means scientific. This is just observations I’ve made on a couple dozen client’s websites over the past few quarters.

But when I see the same things happening to these clients at roughly the same time, this to me is an indicator. One which I will be sure to pay attention to in the future.

One final note, I’ve also noticed in Google that updates seem to follow themes. In other words, the update doesn’t happen all over at once. Sure different data centers update at different times, but the update seems to hit different parts of the index at different time.

For example, I don’t see rankings changes on legal sites at the same time as rankings changes on rental sites. They always happen a week or 2 apart.

These changes don’t seem PageRank or authority based but do seem to revolve around the theme or topic of the sites.

Therefore, if you do see changes happening with your site, check your competitors and you may also see changes affecting them. But if you don’t see changes happening with non-related sites, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t an update, it could just mean that it’s already affected those other sites or hasn’t hit them yet.

Columnist Rob Sullivan is an SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant at Text Link Brokers

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Search Engine Marketing Statistics 2023

2023 Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) statistics: Discover the latest search usage and adoption data to inform your search strategies

Statistics help us turn data into information, allowing us to make informed and rational decisions and that’s exactly the purpose of this article.

We’re huge fans of search engine marketing, both search engine optimization and paid search marketing. But with behavior changing so quickly, it’s vital to keep on top of search engine marketing statistics to inform your strategy.

Search marketing data for 2023 – February update

This summary of search engine marketing statistics is aimed at helping you make better-informed decisions about the running of your search marketing.

If you’re looking to make the business case for investment in search, we recommend you start by modeling search engine marketing return via a search gap analysis to put a quantitative estimate to the returns.

How many searches are made online each day and why?

Google processes over 8.5 billion searches every day. It has steadily increased YOY since 1998. In fact, Google makes up 78% of all online search behaviour today. But who is benefiting from our increased search behavior?

Global research by Datareportal shows 43.2% of internet users aged 16 to 64 cite ‘researching products and brands’ as one of their primary reasons for using the internet.

So, in the case of unknown products and brands trying to increase awareness/recognition, priming your search strategy to increase impressions on non-branded high-intent keywords is more important than ever.

The same study found that 58% of internet users purchase products and services online on a weekly basis, demonstrating the potential for near-instant returns with the right keywords.

Moreover, gone are the days of focusing purely on desktop search. Mobile shopping now has a 60% market share, not to be ignored.

Who has the biggest search engine market share worldwide?

In terms of search engine platform breakdown, Google continues to dominate search engine use, with an 85% percent market share of desktop searches in January 2023.

Clearly, Google is still the market leader, which needs to be taken into account for your digital strategy. This isn’t to say that you should discount other search engines though, especially as Bing which took 9% of searches in the same month.

It’s a slightly different story on mobile, however, as Google currently holds 96% of the mobile search market share. This is likely due to Google’s continued focus on the importance of mobile UX factors for SEO.

Desktop vs mobile vs tablet searches

Up until mid-2023, mobile and desktop searches were mostly neck and neck, with mobile just edging into the lead every few months. However, the most recent stats put mobile ahead with 59% of searches, while desktop falls to 39%.

This shows that as more people remained connected 24/7 due to the high mobile phone penetration across the globe, desktop searches are likely to continue to decline.

If you’re looking for a marketing plan to refocus your online marketing activities and improve your performance, take a look at our free digital marketing plan template for Smart Insights Free Members to start your digital marketing optimization journey.

Free digital marketing plan template

Our popular marketing planning template is structured across the Smart Insights RACE Framework. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member to download our digital marketing plan template today

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The impact of mobile search on SEO

What does this change in search habits mean for SERPs? At the moment, only 13% of websites are able to retain the same position for a particular search across all devices.

So, you may be ranking well on desktop but not even appear on the first page of results on mobile. In fact, 30% of pages that show on the first page of desktop search results do not appear in the top 10 results on mobile.

According to SEMRush, only 11% of URLs kept the same position on mobile as desktop.

Marketers in 2023 need to build omnichannel and mobile marketing strategies into their marketing business as usual. Defend your mobile rankings by regularly checking that your site is optimized for mobile, and keep an eye on mobile rankings rather than simply keeping tracking of desktop rankings.

How much trackable web traffic comes from organic vs paid search?

In 2023, the combination of organic and paid search makes up 80% of all trackable website visits. The current split given my HigherVisibility is 53% organic and 27% paid.

Organic search’s dominance is fairly impressive considering the changes that have been made to the layout of search engine results pages (SERPs), which have pushed organic results further down the page, giving more dominant positions to paid results. However, users seem to put more trust in the results that rank highly organically.

Their study also includes an analysis of the impact of SERPs features on CTR. Features   tend to increase CTR for the top position and decrease CTR of subsequent links.

The results indicated are:

Google keyword – this is a follow-up search

Search engine marketing statistics for voice search popularity

In 2023 35% of the US owned a smart speaker, dropping to 30% in Canada and 28% in Australia. But how are people using these devices to search and how can you tailor your SEO strategy to this new behaviour?

WebFX breaks down smart searches into 4 categories:

Looking to know: People ask their smart devices questions to obtain information. These are extremely common, with people asking questions as simple as “What’s the weather for today?”

Looking to go: Many people ask their devices things such as “Where can I get the best Chinese food?” or “Where can I buy rain boots?” These searchers intend to find and visit the business that best meets their needs.

Looking to buy: Smart devices are often used to purchase products. People can order products through these devices and get suggestions of where to purchase those products.

Looking to do: When users are looking for something to do, they can ask the Google Home or Alexa for help. People can search with questions such as “What festivals are near me?” or “Where is the closest mall?”.

Depending on your product/service, think about the types of searches that you want to appear on and ensure you are ranking for high-intent conversational search queries that you know help drive your conversions.

Your omnichannel marketing strategy in 2023

Structure your marketing plan around a funnel proven to boost performance. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member for instant access to our free digital marketing plan template to hone your skills and drive the results you need.

Free digital marketing plan template

Our popular marketing planning template is structured across the Smart Insights RACE Framework. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member to download our digital marketing plan template today

Access the Free digital marketing plan template

Yahoo Offers Creative Commons Search Engine

Yahoo Offers Creative Commons Search Engine

Yahoo has released a search service for searching the Creative Commons database of content which is available for reuse and redistribution. Most material on the Internet comes with a full copyright, Yahoo Creative Commons search helps developers and site owners find content published by authors that want sites to share or reuse it, under certain conditions. The new search service was announced on the Yahoo Search Blog today, with a special guest post by Creative Commons creator Larry Lessig.

Larry also praised the new Yahoo CC search on his own blog:

Late last night, Yahoo! launched a Creative Commons search engine, permitting you to search the web, filtering results on the basis of Creative Commons licenses. So, as I feel like I’ve said 10,000 times when explaining CC on the road, “Show me pictures of the Empire State Building that I can use for noncommercial use,” and this is the first of about 13,000 on the list.

One nice addition is the check boxes for selecting to search content available for commercial reproduction or content which can be modified upon.

More from Yahoo:

Copyright applies fully and automatically to any work – a photograph, a song, a web page, an article, pretty much any form of expression – the moment it is created. This means that if you want to copy and re-use a creative work you find online, you usually have to ask the author’s permission.

This “all rights reserved” protection is good thing for many authors and artists. But what about those who want you to use their work freely without permission — but on certain conditions?

This search engine helps you quickly find those authors and the work they have marked as free to use with only “some rights reserved.” If you respect the rights they have reserved (which will be clearly marked, as you’ll see) then you can use the work without having to contact them and ask. In some cases, you may even find work in the public domain — that is, free for any use with “no rights reserved.”

Tornadoes Are A Little Different When They Happen On The Sun

In pictures, solar tornadoes look like our own planet’s massive whirling twisters (hence the name). That’s except for the fact that they are many times the size of our planet and they contain super-hot plasma instead of wind and rain. But similar to the ones on Earth, they spring up from the Sun’s surface, and then quickly die down again.

The resemblance, scientists have found, stops there. In research discussed at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) this week, astronomers took a closer look at data collected during these events and found that the ‘tornadoes’ weren’t massive, spinning, vertical funnels after all. Instead, the plasma followed horizontal magnetic lines coming out of the sun. The structures seem to be anchored somewhere on the surface (though scientists don’t yet know by what), and they stay fairly stationary during their brief existence.

“”Perhaps for once the reality is less complicated than what we see,” Brigitte Schmieder, a collaborator on the project said in a statement. “Solar tornadoes sound scary but in fact they normally have no noticeable consequences for us. However, when a tornado prominence erupts, it can cause what’s known as space weather, potentially damaging power, satellite and communication networks on Earth.”

This was a busy week for space news. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading.

An artist’s impression of what a mission to look for life in Venus’ clouds might be. Northrup Grumman

Life on Venus?

Could there be life in the dense clouds of Venus? That question has been nagging astrobiologists since 1967 when Carl Sagan and Harold Morowitz speculated that the chemical and physical ingredients to make life possible were hanging out in Venus’ clouds. Now, that’s resurfaced in a paper out this week in the journal Astrobiology.

In it, researchers bring up the idea again, with some new insights: Dark splotches that appear and disappear in the Martian atmosphere bear some striking resemblances to algae blooms here on Earth, including being made of the same sized particles and their ephemeral nature. And recent discoveries of extremophile microbes on this planet (creatures that thrive in extreme conditions) give astrobiologists hope that similarly harsh environs on Venus could yield extraterrestrial fruit. But to know more, researchers are going to have to take a closer look.

To do so, Aerospace company Northrop Grumman is developing VAMP, the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, which researchers could use to explore the clouds of Venus, hunting for life. It’s still very much in its early stages, but is an intriguing possibility for researchers.

An illustration of the dozen or so black holes found orbiting the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. Columbia University

Buncha Black Holes

Researchers found a dozen black holes orbiting a supermassive black hole near the center of the galaxy, Sagittarius A*. That could indicate that there are tens of thousands more black holes in that immediate area, something that astrophysicists have long predicted, but haven’t found evidence for before now.

Black holes are hard to see because they’re ‘holes’ that even light can’t escape. Researchers can see them when gas from a nearby star gets sucked towards a black hole and releases x-rays, but depending on their size and location relative to Earth even those binaries can be difficult to see. But by focusing on the area near the center of the galaxy and looking for weaker x-ray emissions (caused by stars with low masses paired with black holes) they were able to identify 12.

Extrapolating from what they were able to observe and their existing knowledge of the center of our galaxy, the researchers estimate that there could be hundreds of star and black hole pairs like this and tens of thousands of isolated black holes hanging out in an area about 6 light years away in the center of the galaxy.

“Everything you’d ever want to learn about the way big black holes interact with little black holes, you can learn by studying this distribution,” astrophysicist and lead author of the study Chuck Hailey said. “The Milky Way is really the only galaxy we have where we can study how supermassive black holes interact with little ones because we simply can’t see their interactions in other galaxies. In a sense, this is the only laboratory we have to study this phenomenon.”

The Lunar XPrize went unclaimed, will it get a second chance? NASA

Prize-less Lunar Prize

The Google Lunar XPrize is dead. Long live the Lunar X Prize. Google’s sponsorship of the prize ended without any of the five finalists claiming a portion of the $30 million in award money that was up for grabs. Now, XPrize hopes to give the teams another shot, and is looking for another sponsor to do so.

Insight Engine Vs. Enterprise Search: 7 Key Differences In 2023

Employees lose 30% of their time while looking for information manually; This time can be used for other tasks for higher priority. To eliminate such manual processes,  efficient organizations adopt tools that rapidly increase the delivery of relevant data and insights. 

Recent trends in search tools show that organizations will switch to insight engines from enterprise search engines over the next few years.

To help business leaders fill the knowledge gap, we’ll briefly answer the following questions: 

What are these tools?

How do they differ from one another? 

Which one best fits your business?

What is an insight engine?

An insight engine, cognitive search, or enterprise knowledge discovery and management is a specific enterprise search software to gather, analyze, and interpret data (structured or unstructured) from various sources. 

 How does an insight engine work?

Insight engines can be applicable for different industries, business functions and purposes, such as: 





Customer service

Supply chain management

Fraud detection

Risk management

Explore more on the insight engine use cases, case studies, and benefits by reading our complete guide.  

What is an enterprise search?

Enterprise search is a system to retrieve information from various sources, such as databases, documents, emails, and other types of content, in a single search query.

 How does an enterprise search work?

Enterprise search enables accessing relevant information in different systems and repositories quickly and easily. Enterprise search systems apply indexing, context awareness and processing to understand the content and deliver the most relevant information. 

Enterprise search can help:

Increase productivity

Improve knowledge management

Enable data-driven decision-making

Reduce the cost and time required for manually searching for information. 

Discover how enterprise search works, its use cases, case studies and benefits through our comprehensive article. 

What are the differences between insight engine and enterprise search?

Insight engines and enterprise search systems are applied to search for and gather information from different sources. Yet, both tools are different in terms of: 

Insight EngineEnterprise Search Data SynthesisSynthesize data with AI & data sourcingNot synthesizing but rather filtering & matching ContextualizationContextualize data to provide accurate results & enable data-driven decision-makingContextualize data to return matching results PersonalizationPersonalize results by analyzing users’ past & predicting their intentPersonalize results but rather improve relevance of results User ExperienceDesigned for specific user rolesUser-friendly


Insight engines deliver insights and actionable intelligence based on the data searched. 

The enterprise search system targets providing users with quick and easy access to relevant information.

Data Types

Insight engines are designed to work with both structured and unstructured data from all kinds of sources. 

Enterprise search engines mainly utilize unstructured data such as documents, emails and web pages. 

Data synthesis 

Insight engines deploy AI and data sourcing to retrieve information and optimize search results. 

Enterprise search engines typically do not focus on synthesizing the data but rather on filtering and matching it with the entered query. 

Feature Functions 

Insight engines can contextualize data to provide more relevant and reliable insights by integrating semantics and metadata. Consequently, they offer more data-driven analytics and strategy development. 

Enterprise search engines can contextualize data to return matching results with the entered query. 


Insight engines personalize results to deliver recommendations by analyzing users’ past, and predicting their intent. 

Enterprise search engines that do not employ ML algorithms may not offer the flexibility required for personalization. 

User Experience

Insight engines are often designed for specific user roles, such as data analysts or business users, and provide a more sophisticated user experience. 

Enterprise search systems are designed to be more user-friendly and accessible to a broader range of users.

Which one to choose: insight engine vs. enterprise search?

In 2023, 35% of employees worldwide are expected to leverage insight engines to find accurate information from diverse sources.

Choose an insight engine to:

Gain deeper insights from the data 

Identify patterns, trends, and relationships 

Handle data variety, volume, and velocity.

Choose an enterprise search system to:

 Improve the accessibility and relevance of the data 

Enable all team members to benefit from the tool 

Quick and easy access to information from different sources

Further reading

Learn more on search engines and knowledge management by reading:

Compare insight engines through our data-driven and comprehensive list of tools.

Hazal Şimşek

Hazal is an industry analyst in AIMultiple. She is experienced in market research, quantitative research and data analytics. She received her master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Carlos III of Madrid and her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Bilkent University.





Meta Search Engines : Why Use Them? Still Important?

Engines which work on top of search engines has been a growing area ever since Web Search went mainstream.

The question here is – are meta search engines of any value today when search itself seems a saturated market. Here are my reasons:

Knowing the Difference

No search engine is perfect. While it is true that many queries can be answered in a succinct line or two, in-depth details on any topic from relevant sources takes research and research entails reference to more than one source.

Search Engines as the Rudimentary OS on the Web

From the desktop perspective, an Operating System is defined as “the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer (Web) and provides programmers (Users) with an interface used to access those resources.” The definition does neatly fit into what the Search Engines are doing on the net today. Meta Search engines are essentially applications that sit on top of this OS for the Web, applying and integrating still more innovations on to those engines.

Looking from this perspective, the present day mainstream engines are performing the rudimentary operations of Operating Systems. Just like the OS is not about a bunch a device drivers, meta search engines have their utility.

TestBed for Innovation

The Web is a massive set of data. The single largest repository (in loose terms) of content. The time that it takes to start on a venture as scalable as the Web is also a prime factor why there have been brilliant ideas in the waiting to take off for quite some time now. Trawling content on the web is a mammoth task. And it is that task which is really an issue with newer web search technologies (no wonder up-coming engines have been so long in incubation period). Meta-search engines are testbeds of innovation. Successful strategies will span out and scale out in future.

Why Re-invent the Wheel

The fact that Yahoo, Google Live and chúng tôi account for 99% of Web search goes to say that they are doing more than a commendable job of indexing content on the Web. So why re-invent the wheel?

If I were to start a search engine based around a new technology, why not use the top 50 results from these engines and then in course of time scale up. To that extent, new engines using the results trawled by the biggies is effectively a good way to save a lot of computing and intellectual effort.

These are but a few of the reasons why I believe Meta search engines are as important as from-the-ground-up engines.

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