Google in Hungary and search as such

How is SEM developing in Hungary?

How many people use Google in Hungary? What about rivals?

Posted by Annplugged on December 3, 2006

According to Dennis Woodside, Google is used by 36% of the Hungarian web users (which is about 0,7-1 m users out of the 2-3 m Hungarian netizens, out of the 10 m people), in contrast to Poland where more than 80% of netizens use Google. The uneven distribution of Google’s popularity in Central and Eastern Europe should not come as a surprise at all: if local initiatives, national search engines are satisfying enough (and function as a multifaceted, one-off portal for the users in the given country, mostly ex-soviet block nations), they are more favored than Google (see the Czech), so Google Inc. needs to wait and use tactics adapted to local circumstances.
Right after, the second most popular ‘search engine’ (basically a catalog) in Hungary is Startlap (Starting page, literally) with 27% of the search volume pie, says Dennis.

Now the question arises: what does Dennis, or rather Google stats mean by the Startlap 27%?

If you open the catalog on, you can clearly see that Startlap uses two search engines, one called Tango (Hungarian development of Startlap in cooperation with Etarget) and the other one called Google.


So it would be good to know how much of the 27% belongs to Google again. All the more as Startlap, as the main competitor of Google in the Hungarian search business, is gaining revenue by selling Google ads on its pages (search for AdSense) with the wide blue stripe and orange starlet of Startlap catalog.


I am in really two minds about this issue: is it better for Startlap, which thus can generate more income for the site while providing better search results under its own logo by taking advantage of the Google algorithm, or is it better for Google by drilling into the Startlap empire and winning over ‘amateur users’ for Google? (by ‘amateur users’ I mean Hungarian internet users who are less tech savvy, and who tend to have Startlap as their default front page, plus their main search source)

I do not think that two market players consciously act like this, or have sized up the pros and cons of such a fused appearance as seen above. If so, Dennis would have mentioned this, or the director of Startlap at the Internet Hungary conference (Oct 2006), or any of my professional acquaintances in the SEM industry (as Hungary is so small that gossip travels faster than some downloaded files).

But these are all assumptions. I’ll forward this blogpost to Dennis, and we will see how he reacts. Of course, I will kindly ask Startlap’s representatives on this slightly confusing issue, too.

Let me know if you experience similar semi-fused solutions in other (emerging) countries, please.

5 Responses to “How many people use Google in Hungary? What about rivals?”

  1. eszter said

    I wrote an article about a very related issue regarding the complications associated with measuring search engine popularity:
    These challenges still exist.

    Note also the difference between “percent of all searches” vs “percent of all searchers”, which is definitely not the same thing. (The article you link to seems to confound those two things.)

  2. Thank you for pointing out the difference between searches and unique visitors as searchers, which in fact could be even further broken down into mor subs like
    ‘share of search queries’
    ‘share of search activities – regardless of the number of search queries at a sitting’
    ‘share of unique visitors as shown by the IP address’
    ‘share of unique visitors as revealed by the number of actual searchers on that specific computer’ (impossible category as only surveys, i.e. actual respondents could confirm such data) yet, this latter one is pretty interesting as many times computers at home or at work are shared by some other user, which means that we treat these different people as one searcher…
    So indeed, the question is a lot more complicated, and only those who are more tech savvy can question the validity of ‘search popularity data’ the rest of the readers simply accept the ranking of the engines.
    In addition, this way, you can always tweak your data in a way so that it is more staggering.

    As for Dennis Woodside’s replies to the most popular economic journal in Hungary, I had the impression that the bigger numbers were used (whether searches or searchers). MMD, Google’s PR agency in Hungary, replied that the survey was made by a third party. So I still do not know the actual numbers, and even more importantly, if Startlap statistics includes or excludes Google searches.

    In your article (sorry, I cannot comment it on your site, only here) you are saying “Instead of focusing so much rhetoric on the popularity of one proprietary technology, it would be better to focus on users’ actual experiences online. Although Google is a very powerful and helpful service, many people do not use it, do not know about it, or even if they use it they may not know how to do so well (Hargittai, 2003a).”

    I agree and disagree.
    Agree: Admittedly, media hype is a lot bigger over the popularity of searches than the know-how, or savvyness of searches (which could be measured in schools, for instance, on a grand scale, with a very very well thought over series of tasks to be performed on search engines – sounds an exciting experiment! Let me know if you have info on such search skill studies, I would more than gladly read it, or help implement, advise on it, if not completed yet). Search skills should eb taught for kids, and adults as there are components of it that can be acquired in informal-formal settings.

    Disagree: I do not think “it would be better” (as you state in your article) to let readers know how well people use the search tools on the web (e.g differences between different nations, age groups, kids in different regions, genders whatever). It would be good, of course, but not ‘better’. These two approaches are not comparable, in my opinion. It would also be important, though. They serve different purposes. Advertisers do need to know which sarch engines should be used in which region or country to get the highest and most targeted groups to their site, so from a marketing, business point of view, it is very important to see if Windows Live, or Yahoo is popular, or used in Hungary at all or not (and the article I link to aims mostly at business people, potential search engine ad clients).

    In brief, we do need articles presenting the ‘how we search’ issue, and we do need articles treating the ‘which search engine, tool, platform is the most used’ results, and they are not competing against each other – there is room, and need for both, as I see it.

  3. […] February 14, 2007 Posted by Catalin in net, ro. trackback Doar 36% dintre internautii din Ungaria (in numar de 3 milioane) folosesc direct motorul de cautare Google, urmati indeaproape de 27%, care folosesc portalul […]

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