Since the establishment of Google in 1998, the search engine market has been dominated by the well-known tech giant. We use the word “Google” as a verb nowadays because it has become so synonymous with search engines, so it can be hard to imagine anyone wanting to compete with them. However, SEO tools and service provider Ahrefs has announced that it wants to join the search engine ranks and compete with the big G.
There are other companies that compete with Google for the top spot in search engine usage, like Bing and Yahoo! These engines have been doing comparatively well in the race, picking up about 20 percent of the overall search volume together in 2017, but remaining dominated by Google (75 percent). Smaller search engines like DuckDuckGo and Tor have kept their place in the market as niche anonymous platforms, but it can’t be said that they’re on the same level.
So, what will Ahrefs have to do to have a shot, and how will their search engine be different?
Ahrefs is an SEO tool provider that tracks content, keywords, and page rankings of every website on the Internet. They were established as a small start-up in 2011, and have now progressed to become one of the primarily-used systems in the search engine optimisation industry. They’ve never branched into the search engine sector before, but on the 27th of March 2019 founder and CEO Dmitri Gerasimenko announced on Twitter that they intended to join the race.
Ahrefs is working on general purpose search engine to compete with Google. Sounds crazy, right?— Dmitry Gerasimenko (@botsbreeder) March 27, 2019
But lets talk about two huge problems with Google which they will never want to fix:
-Dmitry Gerasimenko’s official Twitter announcement
He cited a couple of reasons that Ahrefs had decided to expand, and we’ll go through them here.
Google’s services come with the now inherent understanding that anyone who uses their search engine (and associated sites) will have their information anonymously shared across the board in order to tailor user experience. While this is a good feature to many people, there is also a large percentage of the population that doesn’t like the idea of their internet activity being stored and moved around for the purpose of analytics. It’s a well-known fact that as an advertising company, Google sells ad spots to advertisers based on anonymous personal information. This allows Google to tailor ads that users see across the browser according to their search activity. (More on how Google uses information here.)
In order to combat this data-farming culture, Gerasimenko has said that the new Ahrefs search engine will not use its users’ data for any form of profit, which leads us to wonder about how their search metrics will work. It’s well-known that Google uses a person’s search history to tailor their search results, so if Ahrefs won’t store information and use it for profit, how will they rank searches for a specific user?
The second reason, and the one more extensively addressed by Gerasimenko, is that of sharing the profit collected from the Ahrefs search engine. They have said that they will implement a 90/10 model in order to send 90 per cent of the profits to the publishers who create and streamline the information available. This means that they will only use 10 per cent of the revenue they earn to maintain the engine.
In Gerasimenko’s view, creating a search engine which gives website owners good profit sharing from serving up quality content will increase the value of the information available. It will also allow for creators to benefit from more monetisation of their content since their content won’t be “scraped” from their site and displayed on the Google SERP where it can’t be monetised. This promotes users to actually go onto the website providing the information, rather than reading it off of the SERP (like Google does with Featured Snippets).
“What could be better than a free search engine? The one giving back.”Dmitri Gerasimenko, CEO and Founder of Ahrefs
In the coming months, it’s crucial to keep our eyes on Ahrefs as they develop this new project. They already have a lot of experience crawling websites and cataloguing their content, and they have the second largest industry bot to do so, so they’ve got a good foundation. It appears that this new engine will cater to the creator and the user more than to the search engine company. However, it may be missing a few key features we are used to seeing from Google (like the rich snippets on the SERP or its tailored approach to searches).
Only time will tell how well Ahrefs will compete, and whether or not they will rise through the ranks to displace Google as the top search engine.
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