Being a Certified Google Partner Agency & Google Adwords Agency in Durban  means that we think about paid search a lot. In fact we spend a lot of our time using Google’s products and are pretty fond of them. With the vast majority of our clients, we get very good ROI from marketing their products and services through search advertising on Google. If you aren’t sure what that means, please read our post explaining about what Google Adwords is.

Recently, we were having an office chinwag about how we could bring more value to the table for our clients. The topic of advertising on other search engines came up – would that be a good place for our client’s to spend their advertising Rands?

The problem came up in that we couldn’t find any good, verifiable data about how many Internet users in South Africa use search engines other than Google. To decide if an ad placement is a good idea, you have to know if your target market would actually see the ad. If nobody is using the search engine, then you are wasting your budget. “But you only pay when someone clicks the ad,” I hear you say. Yes, that is true, and if nobody clicks, then you don’t spend any budget. What wastes the budget is the ad setup cost and the management fee that still have to be paid by the client, irrespective of what their ad budget is. After all, we don’t setup & manage campaigns for free! With too few clicks and conversions, it is difficult to get a good ROI.

So, how do we make a good, data-driven decision on where to advertise?

Which Search Engines Do South Africans Use?

search-engine-logosI realised that we had a reasonable sized data pool in our Google Analytics account – we have access to data from almost all of our clients over the last 7 years. All we needed to do was look at the organic traffic segment to see which search engines brought the most traffic to all of these sites over a defined period. So what we looked at was:

  • 43 websites, all South African based and targeting South African web traffic.
  • These sites are from a wide variety of industries and all have varied amounts of traffic.
  • We looked at the period May-July 2016.
  • We segmented Organic traffic and then looked at the top 3 search engines that brought traffic to each of the sites.

The results were crystal clear – on average 95% of all organic traffic to these sites came from Google. To be precise, it broke down like this:

  • 95.43% Google
  • 3.9% Bing
  • 0.66% Yahoo

To see if there has been a change year on year, we compared the same time period between 2016 and 2015 and found this:

  • 96.39% Google
  • 2.82% Bing
  • 0.79% Yahoo


What we have determined from the data is that for now, Google is where it is at in South Africa. Unless it is a really large client with “unlimited” budget, there is no real possibility of gaining exceptional ROI from advertising anywhere else. As a Google Adwords Partner Agency, this helps us to know that we are giving the best possible advice to our clients.

Obviously this does not take into account the type of user that may be favouring Bing – their demographic or interest profile may be ideal for some advertisers and allow them to reach a specific market. For the majority of advertisers however, it is unlikely they are going to get their message across to a large enough group of searchers.

If you need help with your Google Adwords campaign or need any other digital marketing advice, just drop us a line. We would love to help.