We are entering a period of rapid change in search engines.
But one that’s changing is the way they work.
In Canada, a search engine’s traffic is measured in terms of clicks, not page views, which means it’s a measure of how many people are actually using it.
But Google’s search engine has always been more popular than its rivals.
Search engines are big business in Canada.
Their revenues have doubled in the last decade, and they’re now worth more than the country’s entire GDP.
“They’re a great place to invest money and have a good return on investment,” says Mark Osterberg, chief executive officer of technology platform iMarkets.
“In the U.S., you’ve got a few big players like Google and Yahoo, and there are a lot of smaller ones.
So Google is doing really well.”
In recent years, however, the rise of search engines has coincided with a significant decline in the size of Canadian web search traffic.
“You’d expect that Google’s going to grow because of the rise in the Internet as a whole,” says Osterbergh.
But that’s not happening.
Canada’s search traffic has declined by about 25 per cent since 2011, as search engine revenues have dropped by almost 20 per cent.
While Google’s revenue from its Canadian subsidiary Google Canada Inc. has grown to $2.2 billion in the first half of 2017, Google’s total advertising revenues in Canada fell by almost 30 per cent in the same period.
Osterberger says Google has been forced to adjust its strategies.
For example, the search engine is now focusing more on mobile and social media, rather than desktop or mobile advertising.
In the past, Google was more focused on advertising for desktop browsers and mobile devices, which would drive up the size and reach of its online advertising.
Now, it’s focusing on mobile as well.
“The shift to mobile has made it more profitable to operate with Google, which has made a lot more money,” Osterfeld says.
Google is investing heavily in its Canada operation.
“We have more than 400 people in Canada, mostly based in Toronto,” says Marc Rotenberg, senior vice president of Google Canada.
“When we launched our search product in Canada in 2007, there were only two people working in Canada: myself and a few of my engineers.”
Since 2011, Google has added more than a dozen Canadian employees to its staff.
“Google has made enormous investments to help us build our Canada operation,” says Rotenberg.
In a recent interview, Google Canada CEO Robert Lefevre told the Globe and Mail that the search company was in the process of revamping its business model to make it more sustainable.
“There is an opportunity to have a more sustainable model where we can invest more in our own workforce,” he said.
Lefegvre said the company is working on “a few new initiatives” that will include a “more strategic, cost-effective approach to our search business.”
“Our goal is to create a global search engine that can compete on all the platforms we currently operate on,” he added.
He said the effort will include hiring more engineers to “create the right mix of teams, skills, and cultures for our business.”