Following a decision by Mozilla to change its Firefox browsers default search provider to Yahoo, Google could face as much as 10% decline in its share of the US audience.

Although, in real terms, it is unlikely that the difference will be this high; mainly because the principle behind Firefox is that users can choose and customise elements such as search engine or a multitude of other add-ons and mods.

What will the impact be?

Rather than a big hit to Google, this is a real win for Yahoo, potentially offering a significant step up in volumes for its search products. The more search volume Yahoo has, the more data and therefore more opportunities to develop its product. Not to mention the intelligence that it can offer to the Yahoo display marketing offerings, which is already very popular amongst advertisers. Mozilla is also moving away from Google in other territories, including the flourishing market of Russia.

What this means for the UK

This change will not reach the UK and Europe, where Google will remain the default option. For the UK, this means Google will retain close to 90% of UK search volume. This is disappointing to many advertisers that understand the risks of effectively relying on one search engine for their search marketing activities. Especially with the fickle nature of Google’s algorithm update schedule.

The UK will have to wait on Apple to see if there will be any significant shift in search engine use. Apple has an agreement with Google covering default search and some map elements that ends this year. The iPhone accounts for over 20% of UK handsets and a 20% shift in mobile search away from Google would be a huge scoop for whichever search engine ended up on the receiving end.

Until this happens, however, Google will be the primary focus for the UK in both SEO activity and the lion’s share of paid search budgets. Those that have the resource should always be looking to adcentre products and organic positions across the secondary engines for a little extra traffic.

Both Bing and Yahoo can deliver good returns, all be it at significantly lower volumes. However, if there is a significant shift in 2015, this relatively small investment could give a marketer enough of an edge over the field to make a difference.

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