Firefox’s switch to Yahoo as its default search provider has given Google’s old rival a small bump in usage — but Google isn’t taking that loss lying down.
A small campaign to help Firefox user ‘get to Google faster’ has been quietly launched. As part of its counter Google tweeted the following guide, showing users how to make it the default search engine in the latest versions of Firefox:
— Google (@google) January 21, 2015
Helpful enough, right? Predictably, the tweet sired a pant-knotted reaction from the usual places, with some coverage almost spluttering in incredulity.
Criticising Google for—shock—showing Firefox users how to do something they might actually want to do seems is odd. Plus, it’s not as though the tweet compels or forces anyone to change anything if they don’t want to.
The tweet links to a new help page outlining steps on how users can reverse the Yahoo! switcharoo. This page is similar to Google’s existing one for Internet Explorer.
Google Prompts Firefox Users
The second part of the strategy, and first noted by Search Engine Land‘s Danny Sullivan, is more proactive and instead targets Firefox users directly.
Firefox users visiting the Google Search homepage have begun seeing info prompts that read: ”Get to Google faster. Make Google your default search engine”.
Two options are offered: a “Sure” button that opens the same help page article as tweeted by Google and a “No thanks” button that hides the prompt so the user is free to continue
getting to Google by searching for it on Yahoo using Google.
Firefox’s five-year deal with Yahoo last November sent ripples through the tech community — but not at Google, who had simply chosen not to outbid its rival to stay default. For Yahoo, early indications show that the deal has done wonders for its share of the search engine market, with most reports suggesting a bump in use of the engine of around 2 percent since the switch went live.
That 2 percent bounce is probably as good as it will get. Most Firefox users will have received the updated version that uses Yahoo! as the default search provider, and some of those will have already switched to an alternative setting. Since the browser itself continues to decline in popularity month-on-month, the opportunity for growth is somewhat limited.
But is Google worried about losing more marketshare? You bet. That increase, though small sounding, shows the impact that default software settings have.
It’s therefore understandable that Google feels it needs to assist Firefox’s less technically proficient users, likely to be confused by sudden changes, in making their browser work like it did before.